The Little Guy’s Little Guy

Is financial columnist Dan Dorfman wrong even when he’s right?
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  1. Whenever America’s most influential financial columnist, as he’s invariably described these days, makes one of his regular appearances on CNN’s Moneyline, I always look forward to that moment when Moneyline host Lou Dobbs turns to ask him a few questions. By then, the one and only Dan Dorfman has finished his shriek: he’s flogged his perennial takeover candidates, Tambrands or Greyhound or Bally; he’s passed along whatever fleeting bit of market gossip he’s overheard that day; he’s grandly announced that shadowy “corporate raider types” have etched out “stakes” in hapless corporations, et cetera, et cetera; and he’s done all this with his squeaky, elfish voice practically tripping over his words in excitement as he pronounces the details (such as they are) of his latest “scoop.” Smooth is not the word that comes to mind when describing America’s most influential financial columnist.

    Anyway, after he’s done all that, Dobbs begins to engage Dorfman in a little spirited repartee. This is a sly bit of business on Dobbs’s part, for it is a smiling inquisition, with the clear (if implicit) purpose of raising a skeptical eyebrow at the rumor Dorfman has just breathlessly reported. To put it another way, Dobbs seems to be asking—without actually coming out and saying so—whether Dorfman’s latest scoop amounts to anything more than a hill of beans. Because it often doesn’t, what then follows is the highly entertaining spectacle of America’s most influential financial columnist backtra...

Originally published in Esquire, September 1989