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A counterpunch for Vanity Scare

A reader, Greg, just sent me a link to an article he wrote in an online newsmag called Counterpunch, entitled The Insolents Abroad. In it he takes old Michael Lewis of Vanity Fair to task, puts him through the wringer and hangs him out to dry.


In an apparent attempt to get a quick scoop, an assorted “hack pack” (to use Thomas Goltz’s term) of reporters and journalists with little to no knowledge of Iceland were hurriedly dispatched to the scene, the quality of their commentary often saying more about the sad state of the US news media than about what is actually happening in Iceland.


We would all do well to leave Lewis’ laughably amiss attempt at edgy journalism aside and instead ponder Iceland’s economic meltdown through a very different lens—that of Iceland itself.


The picture of the Icelandic populace that emerges from such sources [listed in the article] is far more dynamic and three-dimensional than the veritable litany of racist mistruths and petty exaggerations offered by Michael Lewis.

Read Greg’s full article here.

It has been BLOODY COLD these last few days. Today was no exception, especially after the wind picked up this afternoon. I went out to get some fresh air around 3 pm and by the time I got down to the sea a block away the flurries that greeted me when I left the house had morphed into a full-blown blizzard. About an hour later the temps suddenly dropped, the wind picked up and it was winter again. Currently -3°C [27F]. Sunrise 7:03 am, sunset 8.04 pm.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Mondrian March 28, 2009, 8:32 am

    Aie! Rather pointed rebuttal. Yet I completely agree that there has been a dearth of stories in the (non-Icelandic) presses which really focus on social-kreppanomics from the island’s viewpoint.

    (Using “kreppa” even to describe economic crises in other countries, getting the occasional odd look!)

  • Ljósmynd DE March 28, 2009, 10:08 am

    Iceland is certainly a showcase for this mentioned kind of distorted journalism and as an insider you can easily reveal it’s flaws. But this phenomenon is definitely not restricted to the case Iceland or to US American journalism. In this respect I remember some articles in the FTD in Germany in the wake of an interview with the president of Iceland some weeks ago. And all people, who are working in a bank, have to bear the scoff of the media for the damage done by some of the greedy investmentbankers, even if they are more likely victims of the crisis and threatened to loose their jobs.

  • Vikingisson March 30, 2009, 12:30 pm

    Excellent. A worthy opponent.

  • Paul Park April 1, 2009, 1:47 am

    Michael Lewis’s article was seriously lacking. Sure, he mentioned Bjork, the hidden folk and the Miss Universe winners. But where was the obligatory reference to hakarl? (Hakarl is shark meat that is almost as rotten as the journalism in Vanity Fair.)

    I demand my full quotient of cliches!

  • Pwaro April 2, 2009, 2:00 pm

    Doesn’t M. Lewis write (or used to write) for The Economist? Anyway, in that light the VF article had a slight satiric ring to it I thought, although his shots were arguably cheap and very commonplace. I found it hard to take the article very seriously after reading some of the other stuff he writes. It left me with a feeling of wanting to read comments from Icelanders themselves.

    A few weeks ago I saw a documentary on Norwegian public TV on a totally unrelated topic (the scandalous business of salmon farming), where a certain Icelandic fisherman was interviewed on his boat. He responded for the full 100% to every single cliché Lewis dished up about “Icelanders”, which made me chuckle a little bit.

    Gladly though, this pathetic little man got sacked after the film.