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Monday, June 8, 2009

Edmund Andrews: More Excuses from Mainstream Media

I know I said I couldn't post today. I had a routine medical test that involved sedation, so I figured I would lounge around for the rest of the day with no guilt. But here I am reading the Washington Post and who pops up but Edmund Andrews.

The finance writer, Michelle Singletary, has a review of his much-reviewed book, Busted. OK. Whatever.

What I now find most interesting about this fellow and his book is not the content, or even the author, but the way that the mainstream media protects its own by not asking the real questions. So here is Singletary on the notorious omitted bankruptcies.
Unfortunately, a rather regrettable omission mars this intriguing personal account. Andrews failed to mention that his wife had filed for bankruptcy - twice. She filed once to get out from under debt accumulated because of her failed first marriage and a second time to again shed debt amassed while raising four children as a single mother with little, if any, child support.

Honestly, I would zap this if it were turned in to me in an undergraduate writing course. First marginal zap: "Why 'rather'? Why are you lessening the omission with your language?" Second marginal zap: "Re: 'She filed once to get out from under debt accumulated BECAUSE of her failed first marriage': Why the BECAUSE? Isn't the appropriate word DURING? What evidence have you provided to show that her first marriage caused the bankruptcy?" Third marginal zap: "Re: 'a second time to again shed debt amassed while raising four children as a single mother, with little, if any, child support.' How come you left out the fact that this bankruptcy involved discharging a $30,000 debt to wife's SISTER and around $20,000 of other debt to doctors and vets and others?"

Singletary used Andrews's own excuses (presented to NPR as I recall) as her text. So much for doing research. Using someone's own excuses is akin to my occasional run-in with plagiarism. I copy the source of the plagiarized paper. Call the student in for an unpleasant meeting. Show student the source and the work handed in to me. almost without exception, the student denies the plagiarism; it is a coincidence. Whatever. I suppose the Washington Post writer would say, "Oh. OK." And give the student an A. Or a B.


Duchesse said...

"Because of her failed first marriage" references Andrews' response to McArdle's esposé, which he made to PBS, not to McArdle. He is names his wife's then-husband as the bad guy in their debt. Who knows?

I was once married to a man who spent a lot of money without my knowledge; when we divorced, I was liable for half of a debt I did not know about and would not have incurred. I am not saying this happened to her. It is easy for one partner to spend without the other knowing, and that is a nightmare.

Suzy said...

I agree with Duchesse - I've never been married but had a fiance who did a number on me big time and I didn't know until it was too late. And it was a nightmare. Also, the sister could still be paid back 'under the table' but I think when you file bankruptcy you have to include all debtors.Also she could have bought stuff for the sister to 'pay her back' then wrote it off in the bankruptcy since you don't have to pay back credit cards or unsecured debt I don't think. However, I have no sympathy for the rich who 'play' the game then make a bunch of excuses as to why they're broke. I'm still angry over the Enron stuff that happened here in Houston several years ago - one financial magazine had this guy sitting outside by his pool moaning about how he lost his 401k..heck the little guys lost that plus a job and don't have an expensive house or other assets. Oh well can't go there or I wont' be able to get back to sleep for sure!
Seems like all I read nowadays or hear are excuses excuses excuses..I very seldom see someone take responsibility for their part in what happened and without acknowledging that I can't see how to prevent it from happening again.

Funny about Money said...

Where was this writer's editor?

Ditto Duchesse, though, about the surprise debt: when I left the marriage to the corporate lawyer, we were three-quarters of a million dollars in debt, and a bank called the largest loan. I hadn't a clue.

Bankruptcy was avoided only because I borrowed on margin against every liquid penny I owned and handed it over to the ex-; his mother did the same. He eventually paid it back--with interest, and we were able to send our son to a pricey private liberal-arts college. But when people aren't speaking to each other about money, financial meltdown is a distinct possibility.

Then there's the divorce lawyers: as it develops, many of them ascertain how much a couple has and then spin out the proceedings so as to denude them of every penny. Mine tried that trick; I had to can him before he drained what little the ex- and I had left between the two of us.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse, Suzy, and Funny--What I was trying to say was that the book reviewer simply used Andrews's own excuses. In fact, the reviewer used only PARTS of Andrews's own excuses. I have been appalled by the cronyism and general sloppiness shown by members of the mainstream media.

@All--Awful stories of manipulation of finances etc in divorce. Funny's story sounds like the lawsuit in Bleak House.

Katie said...

His wife's previous troubles don't invalidate the book. Why would they? Why should we dig up dirt about other family members? It would be one thing if HE declared bankruptcy, but it was her....