Is the housing bubble blogosphere too mean?

The chief economist of the National Association of Realtors says a blogger almost made his mother cry.

Published March 2, 2007 5:09PM (EST)

We've had a lot of fun over the past year and a half poking at the rah-rah rhetoric of the National Association of Realtor's chief economist David Lereah. Briefly put: The author of 2005's "Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?: Why Home Values and Other Real Estate Investments Will Climb Through the End of the Decade -- and How to Profit From Them" is not the first number How the World Works would call to get a clear-eyed view of the state of the housing market.

Now comes a Fortune interview that surprisingly reveals Lereah to have had doubts and fears about the housing market as far back as two years ago (when he says he knew the subprime market was "in trouble"). On a normal day, we would make some effort to track down Lereah's public statements at the time and see if he shared any of that insight with the general public. But this is no normal day. In the interview, David Lereah takes a shot at blogger David Jackson, Lereah's most relentless critic in the blogosphere. As a part-time housing bubble blogger, How the World Works must stand in solidarity. (Thanks to the Housing Bubble Blog for the Fortune link.)

You've been accused by the blog David Lereah Watch of being too bullish. What's it like to have an online antagonist? At first I was kind of laughing. And now, it's enough already. This is a 26-year-old that could not afford a townhouse and blamed it on the boom. And then he said, Who's talking about the boom and my name kept coming up. So I became Satan to him.

The worst was that my mother read one of those things, and she almost started crying. And I had to say, Mom, you have to have thick skin. I'm going to be in the public and make statements about real estate, and if someone doesn't like what I'm saying, they have every right to say something opposing me.

Now should they go so far as to call me Satan? I don't understand where that's coming from. That's just weird.

David Lereah's mom almost started crying? I guess that means we should almost feel sorry for him. Meanwhile, David Jackson fires back:

No, Mr. Lereah is not Satan. Mr. Lereah exaggerates things. I never called him Satan. I never said he was evil. This blog is actually pretty tame when it comes to criticizing Mr. Lereah. Check the archives.

Actually, you don't have to check the archives to find out what David Jackson thinks of David Lereah. It's right there at the top of his site's main page. How the World Work's doesn't want to make David Lereah's mom almost burst into tears again, so we won't repeat the exact wording, but the basic thrust is that Jackson believes David Lereah spins the numbers to make them look as good as possible for his employer, the National Association of Realtors. Not exactly a shocker, but still, I guess, a little hurtful.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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