I was away on a rare vacation over the past two weeks in Orlando and am just catching up on hundreds of emails, and hours and hours of work. While I was gone there was a lot of news but one item caught my attention – it was the Bloomberg News profile of ZeroHedge. I am up late, and rarely write pieces these days but wanted to address this article since I think the topic is important.
Our editor wrote a piece on the topic (which I had no involvement with) last week but I feel I need to delve further into this. I hope this makes sense as I am multitasking, and up late while writing this. For the record, I know both Colin Lokey and ZeroHedge but I do not plan to get into specifics (although there are very few facts in the article – the ones which are true- with which I am not familiar with already), but I wrote this piece without speaking to them. Additionally, I am familiar with both Luke Kawa and Tracy Alloway of Bloomberg News and although I do not know them personally I think highly of their work.
I want to ignore the content of the debate, and mostly address the question – although Josh Brown of The Reformed Broker has an excellent piece on that topic which I completely agree with – what was Bloomberg News thinking? Specifically, why did Bloomberg run this piece?
I do not understand the goal, but I assume because it is an interesting topic, and they want traffic.
More importantly, was this good journalism?
Bloomberg News is my favorite site for financial news, and I think highly of both journalists but think this piece should never have been published. Basing an article on a single self-admitted disgruntled source who has psychological issues is a no-no even for ValueWalk and I expect far more from Bloomberg News with much more resources, time, and money.
I will give one example – once an ex-employee involved in a multi-million lawsuit with a large hedge fund was passing us info on the fund. One day he gave us an exclusive the hedge fund was about to announce big news. We asked for proof and he provided that proof in the form of a letter from the hedge fund’s prime broker. Since the news was explosive, and there were some inconsistencies in the email we asked if we could speak to the person who sent the email off the record. Long story short it turns out that this disgruntled employee forged that email in an attempt to get us to slander his old hedge fund. An objective journalist piece should take account of any possible bias of a source (even when going on the record).
While I am not accusing Lokey of lying (although ZeroHedge’s rebuttal is pretty damning), he is biased here just as I am biased on many matters. Even with Bloomberg getting ZeroHedge to comment on the story they should at least have provided another source to back up some of Lokey’s claims. In short, this was a bad piece of journalism which was bound to be biased even before the ink had dried.
There are some ridiculous claims like ZeroHedge wants to make money (very rich coming from Michael Bloomberg’s company), and some other silly criticisms. I will address one particular one though since it is the reason that Colin was alleged to have quit, and to show that I am not some ZeroHedge troll.
“I can’t be a 24-hour cheerleader for Hezbollah, Moscow, Tehran, Beijing, and Trump anymore. It’ s wrong. Period. I know it gets you views now, but it will kill your brand over the long run,”
First off at least part of this is wrong. ZeroHedge bashes Beijing, and Trump on a regular basis. While I have seen some Pro Trump pieces most on China mock the country on a daily basis for lying about economic growth, social unrest, and more. Second, while I do think ZeroHedge goes a bit too far on Russia, Iran and Syria, so what? Our Government tells us that people calling for the genocide of non Sunni Muslims are moderates. I think both Assad and Baghdadi are sadistic people but like 1941 we need to decided who is the greater evil and who it is in our natural interest to support. So even though ZeroHedge goes a bit too much to the defense of Assad it is far less influential than our Government and media’s call for the overthrow of the Syrian dictator.
Secondly, although ZeroHedge covers all topics it is mostly a finance based site (like Bloomberg News). I find it odd that someone would quit over political coverage which is a fraction of the content the site puts out.
In sum, for Salon or Glenn Beck this would be top notch work, but for Bloomberg this is shoddy journalism; maybe my article is terrible so who am I to judge? But like I said I just wanted to throw my thoughts out there, and I expect more from Bloomberg News. At the end of the day, all the article did was drive traffic to Bloomberg and ZeroHedge. If that was the goal – mission accomplished.