Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Chuck Jaffe doesn't read.

Chuck Jaffe recently wrote an article criticizing Suzy Orman for being "out of touch". Among many things, he criticized Suzy Orman for being a lesbian; which - he acknowledges - has little to no effect on her ability to provide financial advice. If "...sexuality plays no role and carries no influence in financial advice", why bring it up? I think Chuck Jaffe is taking every shot he can at Ms. Orman in order to defame her character and make his point seem stronger. This is a weak and pitiful way to write an article.
Jaffe also criticizes Ms. Orman's stock market investments. Orman commented "I have a million dollars in the stock market, because if I lose a million dollars, I don't personally care." Jaffe summarizes that "...the person being trusted as everyone's financial adviser has a portfolio that few people could live with. "
However, Jaffe seems ignorant to the fact that Suze Orman doesn't encourage her audience to invest a million dollars in the stock market. She encourages her audience to make the best decisions for their portfolio. She encourages her audience to pay down expensive debt (and I agree in theory; but have difficulty in practice). Since Orman is worth about $25 million (according to Jaffe's article) she probably doesn't have an overwhelming debt load.
Her audience, however, seems to be middle class and lower income families and singles. I would guess that Suze Orman is the financial planner for people who can't afford financial planners.
If you make enough to own a home, but not pay cash... Suze Orman has good advice.
If you make enough to live paycheck to paycheck, but can't get out from under your credit card and school debt... Suze Orman has good advice.
It doesn't seem that Suze Orman is trying to sell her books to the executive that drives a mercedes, lives in a million dollar home, and paid for all of it with cash.
Suze Orman knows her audience. It doesn't seem that Chuck Jaffe does.


Kevin said...

Chuck Jaffe's Response (via E-mail):

Interesting, the way that words get twisted. Like when you wrote the following about yourself on your blog -- "I'm an ass." -- perhaps you said it all. Whatever else one finds on your blog should not be a surprise.
Take issue with my advice, fine. Jump to the conclusions you did about Suze's audience, no worries. But suggest that I "criticized" Suze for being a lesbian?
Be honest and acknowledge that you popped off without paying attention to the back story.
FYI, most of the nation's major papers ran an item about Suze coming out (she told the New York Times, and timed the interview to coincide with the release of her new book about Women and Money). I pointed out that the real story -- the one that was NOT being told -- was that she talked about her portfolio; that would be criticizing the MEDIA for missing the real story, which I then proceeded to tell.
Every financial adviser I talked to for this column already had heard about Suze's sexuality. Not a single one had seen the portfolio details before talking with me (because their local paper had not carried that much of the interview). Go figure.
If Suze had simply come out ONLY with her portfolio, perhaps everyone but me would have ignored the interview, and I could have focused entirely on her investments. But because ALL coverage I saw of the NYT interview included her sexuality, it needed to be in my column to provide the context that the news about Suze missed the real story.
And just for the record, that column quotes a woman named Deb Niemann, one of the leading financial advisers in the country. She happens to be a founder of a group called Pride Planners. I'll let you figure out what that means.
Why was that detail about Deb NOT in the column? It's NOT relevant. (And I quoted Deb NOT because of her sexuality, but because she gave the best, most succinct quotes of the several dozen advisers I talked to about Suze.)
Suze put the spotlight on herself, the media shined it in a certain direction and I focused on where it should be, namely on whether Suze gives quality advice and why, perhaps, she might be out of touch with her audience from a financial standpoint. I certainly expected that some people would miss the point of using the other stories about her as a jumping off point for a column, but thus far surprisingly few have missed that point ... and then there's you.

Chuck Jaffe
Senior Columnist, MarketWatch

Kevin said...

This is what happens when you reply to criticism before you have sufficient time to cool down and think about your replies.
Chuck Jaffe sent the comments above in reply to my blog post. He referred to me as an ass (though, he's not the first and I'll admit as much here).
I still maintain that Jaffe used Suze Orman's sexuality as a defamation. He tries to defend himself by stating that he quoted a woman from a gay and lesbian financial planning group ("And just for the record, that column quotes a woman named Deb Niemann, one of the leading financial advisers in the country. She happens to be a founder of a group called Pride Planners. I'll let you figure out what that means"). That's like saying that you can make racist comments and it's okay because one of your best friends is black.
Jaffe comments, "If Suze had simply come out ONLY with her portfolio, perhaps everyone but me would have ignored the interview, and I could have focused entirely on her investments."
I don't understand that statement at all. It seems that Jaffe is claiming that he is FORCED to continue the media sensationalism that was started by Ms. Orman and her interview with the New York Times.
Regardless of whether or not Ms. Orman's sexuality was used as sensationalism (which I maintain) or as a "...jumping off point for a column," (as Jaffe maintains in his comments to me), I feel that it was absolutely unneccesary and has no effect on her advice, or her ability to provide it.

frauschlager said...

I have to agree with the blogger on this one. It certainly appears that Jeffe used Orman's sexuality as a way to hook people into his article (any savvy net-traveler knows that current search technology picks up on key words in articles and certain words can lead to higher online hits). Regardless of his claims that his true intent was to criticize Orman's personal portfolio, he resorted to throwing politically and socially charged language into his article to find an audience.

Is Jaffe a homophobe? Probably not. But if you have to use such tactics to attract your audience to your "intended" point, maybe your point isn't worth making.

I would also suggest that if Jaffe really stood behind his work and words, he would have posted a response on your blog, rather than send a personal note.

Alessandro Machi said...

Chuck Jaffe, or is it Chuck Gaffe?

Mr. Gaffe just wrote the following...when discussing H.R. 627

Opt out of the term changes -- part of the new law that went into effect last week requires a card issuer to provide 45 days notice before altering terms, and allows the customer to say no to the changes -- and the lender will freeze the account. Your terms will stay the same until you pay off the debt, but the credit line is shut off.

------------end quote--------

If only it were true, but apparently it isn't.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!