Another day, another pair of journalists-cum-pundits “fact-checking” one another in a series of angry back-and-forth posts. The fight we’re talking about this time? The Matt Taibbi-Dan Primack smackdown of 2012, of course.
It all started with Taibbi penning this nice little takedown of Mitt Romney, Bain Capital and private equity in Rolling Stone. The piece included such gems as “Mitt Romney is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time.”
To Primack, a senior editor at Fortune, some of Taibbi’s claims about private equity just didn’t seem entirely true. In a column fact-checking Taibbi's piece, Primack wrote, “Taibbi took out the long knives for this one, which means he sacrificed a bit of accuracy for potency.” Primack’s takedown goes on to pull claims out of Taibbi’s piece -- like the assertion that private equity firms destroyed the economy and that they still benefit when they don’t turn companies around -- and counter them.
According to Primack, Taibbi’s attack on the private equity industry undermines his critique of Romney’s choice to criticize America’s ballooning debt after making a career of adding debt to companies’ balance sheets at Bain.
“Taibbi also takes a lot of wild swings at the broader private equity market that don't ring true,” Primack writes. “So many, in fact, that his valid critique of Romney's candidacy gets lost.”
Taibbi, being Taibbi, was not about to take Primack’s critique lying down. In response, he penned his own paragraphs-long fact check of Primack’s fact check, at one point accusing Primack of “just being disingenuous.”
Taibbi writes: “Like a lot of these pieces that pore through long features in search of mistakes, the resultant list ends up mainly being a discussion of non-factual issues where Primack and I simply disagree.”
He later goes on to say:
It’s the difference between believing that [private equity] is socially beneficial and believing, as I do, that it’s often predatory and antisocial. It would be healthy to hear this debate aired out normally, but in this case, Primack depicts that disagreement as factual inaccuracy on my part, which is just obnoxious.
We're on the edge of our seats waiting for Primack's response.