JPMorgan’s toxically self-regarding CEO, Jamie Dimon, walked into David Gregory’s Petting Zoo, i.e. “Meet the Press,” bravely facing America’s toughest interviewer to talk about his $2 billion boo-boo last week. You can pretty much imagine how that went. He admitted, with trademark puppy dog eyes, that what he arrogantly dismisses last month as a “tempest in a teapot” turned out to be rather tempestuous indeed. Dripping with tough-guy contrition, he manfully admits he was “dead wrong.” In fact, he said “There’s ALMOST no excuse for it,” which is a cue to everyone but Gregory that excuses are on the way.
Hilariously, Gregory initially taped the interview on Wednesday, the day before the oopsie was exposed, and in it he treated Dimon like the Oracle at Delphi, so both of them had to put on makeup and do a sequel thus morning. Of course, for people like Gregory and Dimon, lapses of judgement and incompetence have made them what they are today, and Gregory makes clear in his effusive praise of his VIP guest that he sympathizes with Dimon’s plight. Gregory points to Dimon’s “sterling reputation,” evidently with people as clueless and privileged as himself, and seems almost personally hurt that Dimon hadn’t lived up to the media’s credulous hype about him. What’s he worried about? His credibility as a journalist? Does a hooker worry about her virginity?
Warming to his role, Dimon says, well, we all make mistakes, which naturally is an appealing notion to Gregory, who makes them each time he draws breath. Unsurprisingly, the fact that this little boner erased not just the couple billion in cash, but another $13 billion in market cap is treaded over lightly. As Jason Linkins at Huffington Post put it, Dimon has “grown as a person.” The resulting Fitch downgrade of JPM from AA- to A+ may not have been reported yet when this ongoing soap opera was being taped, but ordinary Americans need only take one look at this guy and wonder, “Why does he still have a job?”
Every other week, it seems, we are treated to such graphic docudramas about the greed, dishonesty, and imperial arrogance of our corporate overlords, and the discomfort with which the Village media greet each story of larceny among Our Betters can be unintentionally comedic, and Dimon’s song and dance is no different. The same media that swooned over Ken Lay, George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Donald Trump, and what have you has been in love with Jamie from day one, and it would be a bit awkward to turn on him too abruptly, for all concerned. This kid-glove treatment is, frankly, infuriating to those of us who live in the reality-based community, where much smaller errors have real consequences, and enormous ones like Dimon has just made are firing offenses, if not leading to jail time.
It turns out that an unaccountable media and an unaccountable elite have grown to exist in perfect symbiosis; one couldn’t exist without the other, and together they are much more than a sum of their parts. So when Dimon says, “there’s almost no excuse,” all Gregory hears is “almost.” When future historians are studying the decline of the US as a democracy and world power, videotape like this will be invaluable.