Ed Driscoll

Great Moments in Journalism

“Story of the $72 million teen trader unravels” CNN-Money reports. Possible alternate headline? At Long Last CNN Finds a Media Outlet It Can Look Down Upon:

It didn’t take long for New York Magazine’s story on a 17-year-old stock whiz with a rumored net worth of $72 million to make a splash. But the story’s juicy premise unraveled almost as quickly.

Jessica Pressler wrote the profile of Mohammed Islam, a senior at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, for a feature called “Reasons to Love New York.”

After getting an advanced look at Pressler’s piece, the New York Post put the improbable story on its Sunday front page. By Monday morning, Islam’s story was one of the hottest on Facebook.

Then it fell apart. In an interview with the New York Observer published Monday night, Islam admitted that he fabricated the whole story and has never actually made a return on any investment. “So it’s total fiction?” asked the Observer. “Yes,” Islam said. (updated)

Early Monday, CNBC’s Josh Brown wondered if Islam was duping “an overly eager press willing to believe.”

That last sentence is certainly a perennial these days, isn’t it? In any case, perhaps the once mighty New York magazine, founded in the late-1960s by legendary editor Clay Felker as a spin-off of the dying New York Herald Tribune, which helped put Tom Wolfe, Jimmy Breslin and other practitioners of “the New Journalism” on the map, should these days stick to profiling men who have sex with horses. It’s safer for them, that way.