Canceling Michael Lewis (Or Not, With Barry Ritholtz And Friends)

Michael Lewis has been one of my favorite writers for a long time. Moneyball was a little bit career-influencing, and The Undoing Project was a little bit focus-affirming. Not just in what the stories are about, but in the way he figured out to tell them. 

Anybody who writes – you have to respect it. 

Maybe you don’t have to. Too strong. But the form is there. It’s like being a fan of any professional thing you’ve, perhaps in hobby form, tried your hand at. You see what you can do, you see what they can do, and you go, “damn.” 

Michael Lewis’ writing makes me go “damn.”  

The blowback against his new book on SBF in the wake of the FTX scandal caught me a little off guard. Maybe it’s because a new Lewis book isn’t dreadfully far off from a new Marvel movie to me. Sure, Flashboys didn’t quite grab me and the Blindside details have been hard to hear, but I’m also the guy who didn’t think Ghostface got enough attention in the Ironman series and I still moved on from that too. 

I’m struggling with to care or not to care and why. 

If you’re interested in the story about the story, read comments from my friend Ben Hunt, read comments quoted below from Barry Ritholtz’s post, and give Barry’s Masters In Business interview of Lewis on the topic a listen. I’m still processing this one. Not going to lie, it’s messing with me.

There are layers. If you have strong or weak opinions, let me know. On one side, I want to dismiss him with “what are you/were you even doing?!” On the other, I want to aks, “how will this telling of the story, in this non-news platform telling, matter (or not) in the future?”

Social media excels at just a few things, but none more than “Manufactured Outrage.” I wanted to tap into that vein of outrage so I could ask Lewis uninformed and angry questions (even when I knew the answer). Just because a backlash has an ill-informed lynch mob mentality doesn’t mean it can’t be useful, too. So I posed the question on Twitter: “If you were interviewing Michael Lewis on FTX & SBF, what would you ask him?”

Mixed in with the vitriol and genuine ignorance were lots of really good questions. I cut and pasted two pages of them, and managed to work a lot into our conversation. Did he get too close to his subjects? (“I always get up close and personal with my subjects, this was no different”); How much did FTX pay him? (LOL); How did the death of his daughter affect his writing process” That’s something I won’t even attempt to describe here but instead encourage you to listen to his beautiful and heartbreaking response.

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