New York Times business writer Andrew Ross Sorkin has been criticized for being too chummy with the Wall Street tycoons he's supposed to be covering. Today he has a piece in the Times (10/4/11) about Occupy Wall Street–which he's decided to check out because it's beginning to make some CEOs nervous:
I had gone down to Zuccotti Park to see the activist movement firsthand after getting a call from the chief executive of a major bank last week, before nearly 700 people were arrested over the weekend during a demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge.
'Is this Occupy Wall Street thing a big deal?" the CEO asked me. I didn't have an answer. "We're trying to figure out how much we should be worried about all of this," he continued, clearly concerned. "Is this going to turn into a personal safety problem?"
As I wandered around the park, it was clear to me that most bankers probably don't have to worry about being in imminent personal danger. This didn't seem like a brutal group–at least not yet.
Ah, the protesters aren't brutal–yet.
He goes on:
But the underlying message of Occupy Wall Street–which spread to Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles on Monday–is something the big banks and corporate America may finally have to grapple with before it actually does become dangerous.
What's the message?
At times it can be hard to discern, but, at least to me, the message was clear: The demonstrators are seeking accountability for Wall Street and corporate America for the financial crisis and the growing economic inequality gap.
And that message is a warning shot about the kind of civil unrest that may emerge–as we've seen in some European countries–if our economy continues to struggle.
To give Sorkin credit, he does seem to have summarized the message of the protest movement accurately. The fact that he does so in the service of telling a CEO whether or not he should be worried about a popular uprising–well, that says a lot about the function of business journalism, doesn't it?