by Linda Holmes
DABA girls Laney Crowell, left, and Megan Petrus with a friend Photo: Eric Strauss
We had a post last Thursday looking into the much-discussed "support group" known as Dating A Banker Anonymous, and on Friday night at about 10:45, I received a statement from The New York Times. The statement says:
"Ravi Somaiya, a freelancer for The Times, first heard about the DABA group in early October, when he met Megan Petrus at a party. The blog started shortly afterward at this address: http://dabagirls.tumblr.com/page/1.
Ravi told his editor about it in December and began reporting in earnest after the New Year.
The fact that they moved their site and gussied it up did not seem worth noting in the article and does not seem particularly surprising or important now.
As for the size of the group/blog audience: We never said, nor implied, it was some kind of mass phenomenon. We made it clear that it was informal, we said that five women were at the cocktail-session we attended. The reason we liked the story — likely the same reason it has attracted so much attention — is that we knew it was resonant with many people who had nothing to do with their group but found themselves in similar situations.
I'm not sure what is thought might be fake about this. Ravi did talk to some of the men to verify the relationships and get their side.
So that's the Times response. As you'll see, the Tumblr.com address they provided doesn't have any content to speak of, except a cartoon posted on Nov. 4.
So I'm not sure whether the Times believes that (a) the blog was all at that address at one time, but (b) for some reason the women went through, after moving the blog to its present WordPress address, and deleted all the entries except the cartoon , or ... (c) what the relevance of the Tumbler address is, really.
Because my question about the site, to clarify, is not whether it was "gussied up" in January. It's when the entries were posted.
And my question about the DABA group is not whether it is a mass phenomenon, but whether there is in fact, as reported in the original Times story, a group of 30 regular participants in the blog and/or at "meetings."
And with all due respect, I do think those questions are relevant, at least relative to how important the story was to begin with.
Unfortunately, the Times' timeline isn't helping me understand either:
• The Times statement says the freelancer found out about the DABA girls in early October, and that the blog started sometime after that.
• The blog entries date back to late September.
Furthermore, the statement says:
• The reporter learned about "the DABA group" in early October.
• The original article says the group wasn't founded until November.
That seems to suggest that the reporter learned about the group at a party at least a month before it was "founded." So again, I'm sort of confused by what it is the Times' editors and spokeswoman understand to have happened.
There are a bunch of other questions that this raises, both factual and philosophical, but unfortunately, other matters call.
I still have all the questions now that I had last Thursday, along with some new ones. But it would seem that the Times, having made this response, is satisfied with the state of the record, so I'm not sure how much more can be said without my becoming a full-time forensic investigator of bankers' girlfriends, which I do not want to be. (I did e-mail the ladies; so far no response.)
That said, one final thought: I'm not sure anything about this whole business surprised me as much as the statement that the Times ran the story because they knew the women would be so "resonant" for other people in the same situation — and that they believe that's why the story has gotten so much attention.
That, I think, is fascinating all on its own.