Sex, lies and the stock market crash

Is Dating a Banker Anonymous a hoax? NPR investigates.

Published January 30, 2009 3:14PM (EST)

Earlier this week, I posted about Dating a Banker Anonymous (DABA), a cadre of women profiled in Wednesday's New York Times who supposedly formed a support group to vent about their disintegrating, post-subprime crisis relationships with Financial-Guy Boyfriends (FBFs). The piece hit a nerve with Broadsheet readers, who left more than 100 comments (and counting!) ranging from conjectures about exactly how "tongue in cheek" the DABA blog is to declarations of class war.

Of course, I wasn't the only blogger who jumped on the story: By now, "It's the Economy, Girlfriend" has attracted the attention of everyone from Gawker and Jezebel to the Financial Times. New York magazine's Daily Intel even attempted to defend the DABA girls. And then came the inevitable news that the DABAs might be getting a book deal. But the most interesting take by far comes from the least gossipy news outlet I can think of: NPR. Linda Holmes, a writer for NPR's Monkey See blog, read the Times piece, smelled a rat and asked the question, "Did the New York Times Get Punk'd?"

While the evidence of a hoax isn't conclusive, Holmes does uncover some potentially damning evidence. For one thing, though entries date back to November, the domain has only been registered since Jan. 16 of this year -- and all comments on the blog seem to have materialized since then, too. While a commenter on Holmes' piece links to a URL that suggests the ladies may have hosted their site on Wordpress for a few months before purchasing a domain, Holmes points out in her post's comments section, "There's nothing at the Wordpress address except a mirror of the main site (and they update together), and no indication it ever existed before about mid-late January either. If there were additional entries or additional comments at the Wordpress address (or if, as [editor Trey Graham] points out, the Wayback Machine had ever indexed it prior to January), I'd agree."

Holmes also finds it fishy that, though there are supposedly 30 women who post to the DABA blog, no one is defending the group from the spate of negative comments that have rolled in since the Times story ran. Broadsheet readers should be able to vouch for the validity of her conjecture that "there's no group of thirty people on the internet where nobody gets defensive."

If Holmes is right, her revelation raises some uncomfortable questions (not least of all for the Times). For one thing, why did so many bloggers and journalists -- myself included -- go nuts over this piece? Was it just the lure of a sexy, sensational story? Were we looking to confirm our worst fears about men, women and relationships? Are those of us who are suffering from real recession-related problems seizing every opportunity to hate on rich people? I can't speak for the others, but on that last count, I admit to being guilty as charged.

By Judy Berman

Judy Berman is a writer and editor in Brooklyn. She is a regular contributor to Salon's Broadsheet.

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