The Internet! It's like a playground for adults, full of cool toys, potential new friends, and occasionally, bloody-nosed scuffles. This week, two of financial journalism's biggest blowhards, Matt Taibbi and CNBC's Charlie Gasparino, eyed each other from across the yard, threw balls at each other with increasing ferocity, and then, in response to the bloody-minded aggression of their peers on the sidelines, reportedly responded to their chants of Fight! Fight! Fight! by agreeing to duke it out "in person" on Don Imus's radio show. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs, the genesis of their argument, has been forgotten, and is free to sit smirking on the sidelines, hoping they both get pounded. Let's review how it all started ...
Opening Shot Gasparino criticized Taibbi's Rolling Stone Goldman Sachs "vampire squid" story on the Daily Beast, because he felt it was getting too much attention, which was bad for journalism and also for Gasparino, who prefers attention to be focused on himself. "Taibbi has elevated a combination of half-truths, superstitions, and a lack of understanding about the financial crisis to what is fast becoming established as 'fact': that Goldman Sachs was the main culprit for the financial crisis and is now unfairly profiting from the various bailouts the crisis caused," he wrote.
Opponent Reaction: Taibbi responded, not because the criticism needled him, but because his public was begging him to. "A lot of people are writing to me wondering when I’m going to respond to Charlie Gasparino, who took time out between martinis recently to take a shot at me," he wrote on his True Slant blog, then went on to explain that a brilliant, obscenity-laced smackdown was in the offing, if only the public could just remain patient. "As it happens I was already beginning work on a chapter on CNBC for my next book, as in recent weeks I’ve had several Wall Street executives call me to complain about certain practices at that network that should probably be shared with the public. So I’m working on that, and I think that is the appropriate forum in which to talk not only about Gasparino but about the other excellent reporters in the CNBC stable, who as we all know did such a terrific job standing up to their advertisers and exposing the dangers that lay ahead in the years leading up to the financial crisis."
Round Three : Gasparino called the Business Insider and offered some passive-aggressive praise. Taibbi's a "good writer" he said, but he's "taken this way too personally ... everyone makes mistakes ... I've written some clunkers too. I have pissed on Goldman a lot more than Matt Taibbi ...." Really, Taibbi reminds Charlie Gasparino of a young Charlie Gasparino, which doesn't mean he doesn't want to punch him in his fool face.
Bonus Round: Don Imus has apparently extended an invite to the two to appear on Thursday morning; we'll see if they can hold in their vitriol that long. To the death! (We hope!)