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The Times Falls Hard for the Girls of "Dating a Banker Anonymous"

The Times devoted a fizzy profile to a "support group" dedicated to women whose "monthly Bergdorf's allowance has been halved and bottle service has all but disappeared" from their lives. But did the Times get pranked?

Did the Times get pranked?



A front-page Metro section story on Wednesday by City reporter Ravi Somaiya, "It's the Economy, Girlfriend," profiled "Dating a Banker Anonymous," a "support group" for girlfriends of laid-off Manhattan investment bankers. The dabagirls.com statement of intent claims:



DABA Girls was started by two best friends whose relationships tanked with the economy. Not knowing what else to do, we did what frustrated but articulate girls have done since the beginning of time - we started a blog. So if your monthly Bergdorf's allowance has been halved and bottle service has all but disappeared from your life, lighten your heart with laughter...



Somaiya's credulous story began:


The economic crisis came home to 27-year-old Megan Petrus early last year when her boyfriend of eight months, a derivatives trader for a major bank, proved to be more concerned about helping a laid-off colleague than comforting Ms. Petrus after her father had a heart attack.


For Christine Cameron, the recession became real when the financial analyst she had been dating for about a year would get drunk and disappear while they were out together, then accuse her the next day of being the one who had absconded.


Dawn Spinner Davis, 26, a beauty writer, said the downward-trending graphs began to make sense when the man she married on Nov. 1, a 28-year-old private wealth manager, stopped playing golf, once his passion. "One of his best friends told me that my job is now to keep him calm and keep him from dying at the age of 35," Ms. Davis said. "It's not what I signed up for."


They shared their sad stories the other night at an informal gathering of Dating a Banker Anonymous, a support group founded in November to help women cope with the inevitable relationship fallout from, say, the collapse of Lehman Brothers or the Dow's shedding 777 points in a single day, as it did on Sept. 29.


In addition to meeting once or twice weekly for brunch or drinks at a bar or restaurant, the group has a blog, billed as "free from the scrutiny of feminists," that invites women to join "if your monthly Bergdorf's allowance has been halved and bottle service has all but disappeared from your life."


The DABA girls are very serious about their theme:


On the blog, the objects of their affections - and disdain - are referred to as F.B.F.'s, for Financial-Guy Boyfriends. Financial news is conveyed via a color-coded daily warning system: red, when the Dow fell 300 points on Oct. 6 ("Good night to have dinner with your girlfriends and do laundry"); yellow, when Warren Buffet invested $3 billion in General Electric ("Good night to hang out with your F.B.F."); green on Jan. 21, in honor of President Obama's hope.


Linda Holmes, blogging at National Public Radio's website, is extremely skeptical of the group's bona fides ("Isn't it totally obvious that this is a put-on?") and has some circumstantial evidence backing her up. Holmes writes:



· The "DABA Girls" blog lives at www.dabagirls.com, a domain that was apparently registered on January 16, even though it has entries dated as far back as September. January 16 is a little more than a week before they showed up in the New York Times .


· Why would you call the first blog entry you ever put on your site "How It All Started"? Doesn't that sound more like...you know, something written after the fact to make it sound like you wrote it in September when, in fact, you wrote it in January as part of your elaborate hoax/prank/stunt? Who starts a new web site and thinks she needs an entry called "How It All Started"?


Holmes also pointed out that the blog's celebrated "color-coded daily warning system" has been used precisely four times, and that there's no information on the blog about actually getting in touch with the "support group." She concluded:


My guess is that the women are setting themselves up for a kind of reality-show Confessions Of A Shopaholic book....