Now comes The Wall Street Journal with an opinion article that is one of the most inane and illogical quite possibly ever published. In this piece, I am accused of being a "soft-bitten" journalist, for sharing, in a sort of limited way, some of my financial woes and worries in this Atlantic cover story. The writer of the article, a person named Sam Schulman, has a theory, that journalists were once "worldly-wise, tough-minded and cynical." He writes:
"Having seen it all, they knew the phonies and the angles they played. They could turn on the idealism for a family audience until deadline -- and then turn it off when they put on their fedoras or fixed their faces and went off for a few quick ones that would restore their sangfroid for another day. That was then. Today's reporters are unreluctant confessors of how they've been conned."
Schulman begins by attacking Edmund Andrews, the New York Times reporter who wrote recently about his own personal debt crisis. Then Schulman writes:
"An even more curious case is that of Jeffrey Goldberg, a far more distinguished journalist and writer (why, thank you very much) who wrote a long story about his stock-market losses in last month's Atlantic. In "Why I Fired My Broker," Mr. Goldberg happily admits that he believed his portfolio would show double-digit growth forever."
Schulman writes that my "delusions" were very deep:
"Mr. Goldberg seems to have trusted a random financial adviser at Merrill Lynch, believed that ordinary stockbrokers possess privileged information that they share with small-portfolio clients, that the 'brokers and wealth managers and cable-television oracles who make up the financial-services industry' are primarily interested in growing the nest egg of people like Mr. Goldberg and never worry about how they themselves might make a buck."
He then writes:
No doubt many people share such beliefs. But Mr. Goldberg has spent years covering the Middle East. He has lived among terrorists and murderers, seeing the worst of human nature. Yet he also believed that, armed with a subscription to a single financial magazine, he could put together a stock portfolio that would outperform index funds and mutual funds alike."
Yes, this is his argument: Because I have shown myself to be hard-bitten and cynical about the intentions of Hezbollah, I should have also been hard-bitten and cynical about the intentions of Merrill Lynch and Smart Money Magazine. I mean, I suppose it's possible to see his point. Take Hezbollah: It is a radical Shi'ite terrorist group, sponsored by Iran, that conducts suicide bombings and has murdered many dozens of children. It is also responsible for the killing of two hundred and forty-one United States Marines. It seeks to impose radical shari'a rule on Lebanon, and use it as a base to export its radical brand of Islam to the rest of the world. Now, take Smart Money Magazine. It is a monthly service magazine published by law-abiding Americans that provides advice, often erroneous, on how to increase the worth of one's portfolio. It also has a strong service journalism component.
Seriously, this is Mr. Schulman's argument, that a person who mistrusts Hezbollah and Hamas should also mistrust Smart Money and Merrill Lynch. Really, not much of an argument on which to hang an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal.