Zero Hedge's Op-Ed To The New York Times

Marla Singer's picture

I sent this Op-Ed proposal to the New York Times on Friday.  Perhaps they will print it.  If so, I will donate the proceeds (don't they pay you $450?) to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. is a finance-focused weblog bringing together nearly 40 anonymous contributors dedicated to providing the public with a deeper, more detailed discourse on all things finance. After less than ten months since our first post, we’re among the top online publications nationwide in terms of readers, eclipsing other properties with several years of history, A-list contributors, and the backing of the country’s largest, mainstream media firms. Like many publications before us, not least the Federalist Papers, we encourage our contributors to use pen names.  Part of our rationale in adopting a publication-wide preference for anonymity (or, technically, pseudonymity) for our contributors and staff is to avoid making “the story” about the messengers rather than the message.  We believe content should stand on its own merits; if it cannot, neither a sterling reputation on the part of the author nor dazzling penmanship will manage to prop it up.  Likewise no amount of nefarious author history should, in isolation, tear down well-written, fact-based discussion and analysis.  An intelligent and skeptical audience should not be dazzled by several layers of foundation, whether on a swimsuit model or a sow.

On Thursday, following weeks of criticism of our anonymity on CNBC and elsewhere, a reporter from the New York Post confronted our public relations representative over the alleged identity of one of our contributors.  As a matter of policy, Zero Hedge does not comment on the identity of contributors or staff, but over the course of a 30 minute conversation with the reporter, something interesting emerged: the reporter in question was so befuddled by this policy that she barely knew what to say.  She had, quite literally, no idea how to write a story that wasn't primarily about personalities.  Her attempt to bribe our public relations representative with favorable coverage for an exclusive is an example of what is wrong with financial reporting today.  When reporting egos flatter (or threaten) other egos to pull facts, or garner the access required to secure a six-figure advance for their upcoming tell-all book, does anyone really believe we can expect an objective retelling of the facts worthy of the sacred, constitutionally-protected trust we as citizens have given the Fourth Estate?  Have the press forgotten that this is, in fact, a trust, and not a quitclaim deed?  Do they not realize that they are the Estate's trustees, and not its property owners?

Now, more than ever, anonymity is critical to the Republic.  This should surprise no one.  It has been a critical part of speech in this country since before its founding. Without the courageous and then-anonymous writings of, e.g., Thomas Paine or the authors of The Federalist Papers, our nation would be a very different place today.  Though we cannot confirm or deny that Thomas Paine or any of the founding fathers are Zero Hedge contributors today, we do believe we understand something of their motivation for using pen names.

Early on in Zero Hedge's history the view surfaced that, to bring up circulation, we should dumb down our content and post more biographical detail to bolster our credibility.  Thankfully, we decided against that.  The results, in terms of readership, and despite the absence of “credentials” as they are traditionally understood, speak for themselves. This is but one reason that today more than ever, we think it is time to end the cult of personality in financial reporting.  It is no accident that Harry Markopoulos (the accountant whose repeated attempts to expose Bernie Madoff to anyone who would listen were as often ignored) sought to avoid the limelight.

In 1995, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commissions: “Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority.... It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the bill of rights, and of the first amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation—and their ideas from suppression—at the hand of an intolerant society.”  Given the financial events of the last twelve months, we think it clear that this must be the end of the status quo for financial regulation in the United States.  We are also keenly aware that a number of extremely well-resourced, established players have little incentive in seeing any change at all.  As we live in an age where posting on a blog can get you fired years later after a casual, lunch-hour Google search by a Human Resources representative, has there ever been a more important time for anonymous speech in financial reporting?  We think not.

We revel in an educated, skeptical audience that takes us to task for every fact, assumption, and bit of analysis we write.  We think this keeps the focus where it belongs, away from the personalities and egos that muddy the water of skeptical inquiry.  Believe us, doubt us, argue with us, then decide where the best analysis is being generated: from reporters at brand-name media outlets, without a lifetime of expertise on the subjects on which they write and whose allegiances lie as much as with the sources they need to keep happy as with the readers they purportedly serve, or with those insiders who by shedding the burden of identification, are free to expose the abuses, absurdities, and abscesses of both those in power and those who report on them.

"Marla Singer," Zero Hedge

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Anonymous's picture

yes of course..its like asking V ( V for Vendetta guy) to remove his doesnt matter who is behind the mask..its the idea that matters

on another note, marla, there might be some pressure to reveal identities soon

Marla Singer's picture

Gee, too bad we don't use a Google owned platform anymore. Well, luckily that blogger who is about to be exposed lives in the land of the free and the home of the brave. I'm sure they won't have anything to worry about.

SlowTrader's picture

well said Marla, keep it up.

Mannwich's picture

Keep going, TD.  Do not stop. 

Anonymous's picture

Nice job!!!

Mannwich's picture

Excuse me, keep going, TD et al.....

dnarby's picture

I think I'm going to cry.

...Yep!  (acts like something's in his eye).

Anonymous's picture

What a powerful article but I highly doubt that this will be published! We don't have real reporting in this country anymore except for bloggers. This is why newspapers will be extinct! Keep up the great work!

Anonymous's picture


Nothing like anonymity to get one's ideas co-opted btw.

Cow's picture

"I highly doubt that this will be published!"

Given the drop in circulation of the NY Times, it might get more eyeballs just being on ZH


Lou629's picture

New slogan suggestion for ZH website & tee-shirts:

If the lone ranger could wear a mask, then what's the problem?

Anonymous's picture

Don't give up you day job ;-)

Lou629's picture

anon. #45346,

While your reply removes any doubt about the overwhelming amount of creativity that you're capable of.  What a display of raw talent!  ;-)

Anonymous's picture

His Name Is Robert Paulson.

xris's picture

Makes one wonder what Thomas Paine's later life would have been like if he'd published the Age of Reason under a pseudonym...

Cheeky Bastard's picture

don't spend it all on blow and red bull :D ... fantastic job Marla,hope they print it.

Anonymous's picture

Would Carlos Slim approve?

Anonymous's picture

you sure take yourselves seriously...

Marla Singer's picture

Anonymous, my friend, this is the majors. Dilettantes have no place. If that's not clear to you already given that the likes of CNBC attack us twice a week, then you need a visit to Pearle.

bonddude's picture

Quoting Justice JP Stevens was brilliant. That's why ZH is my first read everyday and several times a day.


To the above shrill Anon. comment, if people in high places weren't taking this site seriously

why is somebody like you here doing your best to detract? Mr. Gasparino?

Marla Singer's picture

He is one of my favorites. I had lunch with him in DC once. Amazing.

Anonymous's picture

The only finer post I have ever read in support of anonymous blogging was penned by Tanta (Doris Dungey, RIP) on Calculated Risk in 2007.

Thank you for going where she went. We all need to get vocal about any encroachment on free speech in the blogosphere, especially those that want to remove necessary cloaks of anonymity (and we should all support the very vocal Electronic Freedom Foundation).

The New York Times will reveal a lot about itself depending on how it treats this letter.

Marla Singer's picture


I'm not sure you can appreciate the degree to which it warms me (and almost brings a tear to my eye) to even obliquely be compared to Tanta (Doris...). I was a loyal reader, and afflicted mourner. I should live 1000 years and aspire only to live up to her prose.

Anonymous's picture

I miss Tanta terribly--especially now that we are on the backside of the stimulus -- there has been no healing of the foreclosure crisis (she must be whirling in her grave), no elimination of massive toxic debt, and the no end to twisted policies enabling banks that created the crisis to cement their too-big-to-fail status by indenturing victims if the crisis --state governments and taxpayers-- to high-interest loans and high fees.

I am so sorry she is not here to brandish her wit and clarity and outrage at all of this, but so glad to see that others have taken up where she so tragically left off. I hope you appreciate how much you are valued by your readers.

CR and a very few other blogs pulled me away from a cliff during the housing runup, when I was about to make a very bad decision that would have cost me dearly. I was saved by The Blogs--not the Fourth Estate. I-- and thousands of others lucky enough to stumble on the unvarnished, data-driven, often anonymously written truth --will never forget that.

MS financial journalists that do not have the widsom or humility to acknowledge these blogs' success-and their own failures--are busily sowing the seeds of their own destruction. That the Fourth Estate cannot do its job is a tragedy entirlely of its own making.

Ruth's picture

I loved reading her blog too, although I was mesmorized by Zerohedge before I caught her stuff but caught up and admired her also.  Always wondering what could I have done better, in re: to the mortgage mess.  It's now too little too late, but it's not too late for you at ZH, it's just the beginning, great work always.  Thanks is NOT enough.  (just think of it as carrying on her torch)

Anonymous's picture

It's wild, I was thinking the same thing as I was reading the post. It has a similar even healed cool logicians approach without being offensive, and Tanta was great at that. Even if you didn't agree you would always finish reading what she wrote...

well done.

Anonymous's picture

I am a big fan of yours but please don't go all bragging about how anonymous you are and deserve to be. You publish under pseudonyms, fine with me and fine with everyone else. Just don't feel obliged to justify it over and over again. Ignore the trolls, do not feed them.

Anonymous's picture

here here

Anonymous's picture

I disagree. If the site loses the anonymity, the rest of us lose the content. It's up to you whether you hold the anonymity policy in the highest regard or not, but it's one of the lynchpins to what makes us all visit the site.

Anonymous's picture

Beautifully written and oh so true. Why is that the established media is railing against such truth and effectiveness? Sold their souls to the corporate devils too many years ago. Carry on with the fine (and scary to the establishment) work. You have my deepest respect.


Harbourcity's picture

NYT should publish it - they need the readers.


Pico's picture

& if they do ZH gets more readers too.

Which place will they stay? (no contest)

Pico's picture

go Marla! ZH is doing us all a great service. Thanks.

Kaiser Soze's picture

Well written piece, easily understood by the average reader.

numbers's picture

Right on, Marla. Great op-ed. Not likely the NYT will print it but hey, you gotta try. Anyway, great job.

Anonymous's picture

Keep it up Tyler! I don't think that the New York Slimes of Walter Duranty fame will prin it but hope springs eternal.

thegreatsatan's picture

good luck having them publish that, the old gray whore long ago gave up anything that resembled journalistic integrity and intellectual honesty

Anonymous's picture

I'm thinking MSM & PTB have realized anon speech is a sore point for ZH.

They will coordinate efforts to bait you, distract you, and (attempt) to draw you out: circling the fountain of truth and chipping at structural weaknesses.

Would you not retain more power if you ignore their efforts completely?

Don't pull your punches.
Don't get distracted.

Keep dragging the cockroaches into the sunlight. Wear your yellow rubber gloves.

Marla Singer's picture

Sore point? Are you nuts? It's one of our founding tenants tenets!

Please... PLEASE continue attacking us for one of the features that founded this Republic. Please... oh PLEASE keep that up.

Anonymous's picture

"Sore point" was a poor choice of words, perhaps.

Please indulge me in a rephrase.

ZH is about the message, not the messenger. That's the purpose of the anon speech tenant. Understood. And agreed.

(keep on keepin' on)

However, MSM & PTB are attempting to engage ZH *specifically* on the anon speech tenant. By engaging with them — even in defense or clarification — the situation reverts to being about the messenger, instead of the message.

Paradigm flip.

The end result is the press on ZH is about "anon" instead of the message. The financial message gets lost against the noise of the search for anon: "Did you see that article in NYT about the anon blog that writes about...about...something?"

Unless, of course, ZH's *dual* purpose is to address the right to anon addition to exposing dirty financial laundry. In which case, full on.

Anonymous's picture

A soar point?

I need more cowbell's picture

I am just proud to be a reader and occasional poster. I cannot imagine the sense of satisfaction y'all must feel, daily.

This is the best and most important site, not just fiancial site, on the internet. Welcome to the revolution, of sanity, of non-corruption, of free thought.

Ich bin ein whatever's picture

 As we live in an age where posting on a blog can get you fired years later after a casual, lunch-hour Google search by a Human Resources representative, has there ever been a more important time for anonymous speech in financial reporting?  We think not.

There have been at least four people at my corporation fired for this. 

Gordon_Gekko's picture

It is exactly because of this type of nonsense that I decided not to work for any corporation - ever. Fuck off, bastards.

Anonymous's picture

If you were to offer "I am Tyler Durden" t-shirts, I would be one. Your pseudonimity is refreshing and welcome. If everyone admits that they are Tyler Durden (like the T-Shirt idea), then nobody can be Tyler Durden.

I think, however, that your appearances on main stream media confuse your stance. Do all contributors have the "right" to portray themselves as TD in interviews? Or is only one person allowed to speak for the name? If indeed the "voice" of TD is limited to one individual, then the concept is weakened.

Finally, as you continue to elevate the impact of your writings, I suggest that you consider that your excessive use of hyperbole may create a glass ceiling to your credibility. I would encourage you to tone that down to allow your mission to reach a larger audience who may be put off by this behavior. If you want to rant, make the rant the topic and have at it. If you want to report on who the next Fed Chairman will be, lighten up on the passionate parentheticals.

"Tyler Durden" ;)

Anonymous's picture

Give 'em Hell, Marla. ZH is an Oxygen supply in a room full of foul air.

Cheeky Bastard's picture

this is a repost of a comment i wrote on NC under the post questioning TD and ZH " legitimacy ", i find it important to post it here simply because it is a summary WHY anonymity is important. It is not your standard view on anonymity as a protection tool, but as a tool of validation; but to make a long post short; here ya go



" Yves, is that jealousy i find in the tone of your post; first of all anonymity is the basis of accomplishment throughout history of mankind and it serves a purpose; as you my,or may not know; Gadamer came to a startling conclusion that anonymity is one of the basis for a successful reading; and thus basically one of necessary epistemological components when it comes to validating consensus of either relation or objectivity of that relation among all the parties which take position in the discourse itself; furthermore; if the true nature of the information is objective truth or it holds reference to truth; then the source of that information is meaningless ( Vienna circle and Habermas ); all that matters is context; furthermore; information; as knowledge; can only be objective if accepted trough various verification models by number of independent observes ( ZH satisfies this, and all of the above ). So your " critique " of anonymity is either a) subjective and thus not valid or b) simple logical fallacy and un-intentional mistake; if first is the case that your reasons are purely anthropological/psychological and can be dismissed as subliminal but if b) then you show a warning lack of the tool you use to promote your thought and information and then rises something called perpetual loop( or in logic circular reasoning); and that is basically that the content you provide can be bounded to intentional mistake which would immediately compromise it in a) utilization b) truthfulness . I hope you get what I'm trying to say; but if not let me summarize it for you
a) it is the manifistation of your nature
b) it is the manifestation of your lack of understanding what writing is ( read Derrida ) and what is the nature of knowledge and information ( take some epistemology courses )"

Anonymous's picture

Cheeky, read you comment on NC, Bravo. In regard to NC,People in glass houses should not throw spitballs, makes for a nasty looking glass.

Last night someone posted that Yves is head of Aurora Advisors. Look at their list of clients. Not throwing spitballs at Yves at all but she would have been better served keeping her fingers still.

"Representative clients include:

* American Express
* Bankers Trust
* Dresdner Bank
* Industrial Bank of Japan
* Lehman Brothers
* McKinsey & Company
* The New Republic
* ShoreBank
* Soros Fund Management
* Swiss Bank
* Tech Pacific Australia
* The Weather Channel

In addition to serving well-recognized concerns, we have also worked on behalf of Forbes 400 families, mid-sized investment firms, boutique investment banks, and substantial individuals."