Wall Street Journal goes to bat for the vultures who want to steal your house

When the editorial page leaks into the news.

Cory Doctorow
8 min readJun 5


Tonight (June 5) at 7:15PM, I’m in London at the British Library with my novel Red Team Blues, hosted by Baroness Martha Lane Fox.

Tomorrow (June 6), I’m on a Rightscon panel about interoperability.

The tacit social contract between the Wall Street Journal and its readers is this: the editorial page is for ideology, and the news section is for reality. Money talks and bullshit walks — and reality’s well-known anticapitalist bias means that hewing too closely to ideology will make you broke, and thus unable to push your ideology.

That’s why the editorial page will rail against “printing money” while the news section will confine itself to asking which kinds of federal spending competes with the private sector (creating a bidding war that drives up prices) and which kinds are not. If you want frothing takes about how covid relief checks will create “debt for our grandchildren,” seek it on the editorial page. For sober recognition that giving small amounts of money to working people will simply go to reducing consumer and student debt, look to the news.

But WSJ reporters haven’t had their corpus colossi severed: the brain-lobe that understands economic reality crosstalks with the lobe that worship the idea of a class hierarchy with capital on top and workers tugging their forelacks. When that happens, the coverage gets weird.

Take this weekend’s massive feature on “zombie mortgages,” long-written-off second mortgages that have been bought by pennies for vultures who are now trying to call them in:


These second mortgages — often in the form of home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) — date back to the subprime bubble of the early 2000s. As housing prices spiked to obscene levels and banks figured out how to issue risky mortgages and sell them off to suckers, everyday people were encouraged — and often tricked — into borrowing heavily against their houses, on complicated terms that could see their payments skyrocket down the road.



Cory Doctorow

Writer, blogger, activist. Blog: https://pluralistic.net; Mailing list: https://pluralistic.net/plura-list; Mastodon: @pluralistic@mamot.fr