Category Archives: CNBC

>Ben Stein Is An Idiot

>It shouldn’t take a little ol’ blogger from Nashville, Tennessee to explain the obvious to a great, big, important person like Ben Stein. But in yesterday’s New York Times column, Stein said something about the Jon Stewart-Jim Cramer contretemps that was so stunningly stupid, so obviously missing the point, and that same stupidity was repeated by Chris at TV Newser, so I guess I’ll have to point out the obvious.

Stein wrote this:

During the colloquy, Mr. Stewart lambasted Mr. Cramer as failing to anticipate events and inform his audience about those events.


No, no no. Jon Stewart was not criticizing Jim Cramer for failing to anticipate events. He was criticizing Jim Cramer and the rest of the business press for knowing the system is gamed, and not informing the public. For being willing participants in a fraudulent scheme that stacks the deck against average investors–people who have far more at stake and far more to lose than Wall Street bigwigs who basically gamble with other people’s money.

I shouldn’t be shocked that Ben Stein doesn’t get that. He’s part of that gamed system, after all.

Still, we aren’t stupid, Mr. Stein. You, on the other hand, obviously think we are.

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Filed under Ben Stein, CNBC, Jim Cramer, Jon Stewart, Wall Street

>Outraged By The Outrage

>That would be CNBC, our favorite non-source for non-financial news:

On Tuesday morning, it was Rick Santelli’s turn to downplay the outrage. The CNBC host of ‘rewarding-the-housing-market-losers’ fame, urged the masses to show some perspective. After all, this was mere “millions” of dollars engendering the bonus-driven anger, as opposed to the “billions” that AIG has received in bailout bucks.

From CNBC’s Squawk Box:

SANTELLI: Now, think about it this way. Maybe I’m missing something. But the outrage seems to be about M’s, millions of dollars, right? $165 million, OK?

But I would think that it should be looked at as a pretty big positive, because when you go from the M, maybe you should try to go to the B’s, which is the billions of dollars, and maybe that’s going to even enlighten it for the T, trillions of dollars. You know, $165 million is like worrying about 16.5 cents, while $165 maybe necessitates a little more outrage. What do you guys think?

Hey, Rick Santelli: I think you’re an idiot. Since you’re busy “going Galt” and all, I’ll take that $165 million, seeing as how it doesn’t matter and all. Just sayin’ …

It’s completely idiotic to say outrage should be proportional to the number of zeroes involved. Hey, conservatives have no problem feigning outrage over “earmarks,” which amount to a tiny percent of the entire federal budget. So excuse me while I get pissed off over $165 million in bonuses to people who need it the least. Mwah.

However, I would like to have a reality-based conversation about this AIG mess. So put down the torches and pitchforks, people. It should come as no surprise that a bunch of greedy Wall Street people acted like, well, greedy Wall Street people. This is why we need strict oversight and lots of strings. Not “free hands of the market” groping taxpayers in unpleasant ways. Remember: “Atlas Shrugged” is fiction, people. Just like “24.”

Look, I’ll be the first to admit: I don’t know what to believe about this AIG mess. There are plenty of folks who think AIG should have been allowed to fail–Atrios over at Eschaton has been preaching that message the loudest. File bankruptcy, reorganize, yada yada.

Others say if AIG had gone the way of Lehman Brothers, it would have taken the entire banking system down with it. And I guess I’m just not smart or savvy enough to know whether these arguments for why the AIG bailout was a good thing hold merit.

I do know that stoking the public’s ire is a pretty useless exercise, but that’s all I’m seeing in the media today. I’m just jaded enough to think that some might be stoking public outrage to boost ratings.

We’ve got some real problems, people, and we need to be clear-headed about fixing them. I’m just starting to doubt if that will ever happen.

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Filed under AIG, CNBC, Rick Santelli

>Dear American Media: Stop Hurting America

>It speaks volumes about the sad state of current affairs that we’ve looked to a comedian/satirist not once, not twice, but three times now to speak the truth about the failure of the American news media.

Jon Stewart first started this with his 2004 appearance on the now-defunct “Crossfire,” when he told Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala to “stop hurting America.”

Stephen Colbert’s appearance at the 2006 White House Correspondents Assn. dinner was a biting scold to the journalists who should have protected us from a rush to war, the loss of civil liberties, and stolen elections. Those people chose to simply play along, instead of doing their jobs. For shame.

And last night Jon Stewart again stepped into his advocate’s role. His interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer was painful to watch. Stewart tried to get Cramer to admit that the financial news media knowingly sold snake oil to boost ratings and profits, instead of giving actual news that Americans needed to make informed decisions about their finances.

Stewart got angrier and angrier as Cramer offered lame “no one could have anticipated this” and “they all lied to me” excuses, completely dodging any responsibility he and his network had in creating a false picture of the financial world. Said a visibly angry Stewart:

“I understand you want to make finance entertaining. But it’s not a fucking game,” he told Cramer. Then, referring to that video, he continued:

And I — when I watch that, I get, I can’t tell you how angry that makes me. Because what it says to me is that you all know. You all know what’s going on. You can draw a straight line from those shenanigans to the stuff that was being pulled at Bear and at AIG and all this derivative market stuff that is this weird Wall Street side bet… Listen, you knew what the banks were doing and yet were touting it for months and months. The entire network was. And so now to pretend this was some crazy once-in-a-lifetime tsunami that no one could have seen coming is disingenuous at best and criminal at worst.

It took 20 minutes for Cramer to finally admit, “I’m a commentator. […] I’m a guy trying to do an entertainment show about business for people to watch.”

Yeah. An entertainment show. Nice of you to finally admit it. I wonder if CNBC ever will?

One of the reasons I’ve said I hate those E*Trade commercials with the talking babies and the Asian immigrant family urged to “push the button, Mr. Lee!” is that the financial markets are not child’s play. It’s serious business with serious consequences, yet over the past 10 years we’ve been fed this lie that the markets are a fun little sandbox that everyone should play in. And that general attitude has spread from the Washington politicians trying to privatize your Social Security to the financial news outlets who peddle “entertainment shows” as serious information. What they don’t tell you is that behind the scenes some Oz-like character is manipulating the rules of the game.

I close with this exhortation to America’s news media — financial, political, and every other kind. It’s the words of Jon Stewart from his 2004 “Crossfire” appearance:

“Come work for us …. we need your help. Right now you’re helping the politicians and the corporations. You’re part of their strategies.”

America needs a robust news media. Not Kabuki theater and “entertainment.” Come work for the American people. We may not pay as well as the other guys but at least you’d have your integrity.

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Filed under CNBC, Jim Cramer, Jon Stewart, media

>Cramer v. Cramer

>The Huffington Post dug through the memory hole and found this damaging 2006 interview CNBC’s Jim Cramer gave to’s Aaron Task. In it, Cramer brags about manipulating the market, shorting stocks and other malfeasance when he ran a hedge fund:

-On manipulating the market: “A lot of times when I was short at my hedge fund, and I was positioned short, meaning I needed it down, I would create a level of activity before hand that could drive the futures.”

-On falsely creating the impression a stock is down (what he calls “fomenting”): “You can’t foment. That’s a violation… But you do it anyway because the SEC doesn’t understand it.” He adds, “When you have six days and your company may be in doubt because you are down, I think it is really important to foment.”

-On the truth: “What’s important when you are in that hedge fund mode is to not be doing anything that is remotely truthful, because the truth is so against your view – it is important to create a new truth to develop a fiction,” Cramer advises. “You can’t take any chances.”

Did Jim Cramer really indict himself in the heat of an interview?

The only thing bigger than Cramer’s loud mouth is his ego. Why he’d admit to illegal activities as a hedge fund manager is beyond me. Why CNBC continues to employ this charlatan is even more puzzling.

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Filed under CNBC, Jim Cramer

>Is CNBC’s Jim Cramer A Fascist?

>Hey, I’m not one to throw that particular “f” bomb around, but I’m just wondering what else Jim Cramer could possibly mean by this comment:

Government of, by, and for the corporation is perishing from the Earth… our country is now run by a president and a Bolshevik-leaning Democratic Party that are unfavorable to stocks and the people who own them.

Of, by and for the corporation? Gee, I don’t think that’s exactly how Abraham Lincoln phrased it in his Gettysburg Address, but Mussolini sure would be proud.

I seem to recall right-wingers getting all foamy-mouthed last October when then-candidate Obama talked about spreading the wealth around a bit. Communist! Socialist! Bolshevik! ZOMG!!!!1!!!11!

I guess this is another one to throw at CNBC spokesman Brian Steel. CNBC is starting to look increasingly like a bad parody of Fox Business.

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Filed under CNBC, Jim Cramer, media

>Santelli Astroturf Fallout, Megalomania Edition



The attention around Mr. Santelli’s views now appears to be a distraction at CNBC. (The New York Times has a content-sharing agreement with the network.) Mr. Santelli declined interview requests on Monday, and the network canceled his appearance on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” on Wednesday. “It was time to move on to the next big story,” a CNBC spokesman said.

Yes, indeed. How embarassing when the “big story” concerns your reporter’s ethics and your network’s questionable credibilty.

CNBC’s Rick Santelli has been forced to issue a denial that he was affiliated with FreedomWorks, the Sam Adams Alliance, or any of the other groups whose planned “tea parties” mysteriously sprang up hours after his rant.

And what a denial it is. This one takes the prize for rank narcissisim:

First of all let me be clear that I have NO affiliation or association with any of the websites or related tea party movements that have popped up as a result of my comments on February 19th, or to the best of my knowledge any of the people who organized the websites or movements.


Anyone who has watched my thousands of appearances on CNBC is well acquainted with my aggressive and impassioned style. Over the next several days will put up some of my other passionate broadcasts of the past. Since joining CNBC in 1999 I have not traded the markets in any capacity. As a financial reporter I have never shied away from trying to promote discourse and dialogue of the important issues that affect markets and therefore our lives. The one spot in particular that occurred on February 19th at roughly 8:15 est time and maybe lasted for a minute probably wasn’t even in my top 5 in terms of intensity, energy, or controversy. It was unique in that it obviously struck a chord with the public thus inciting what can only be described as a groundswell of feedback from the public, the White House, the Internet, and the media at large.

Oh, obviously. Cripes. The ego has landed. Oh, but there’s more:

Many millions of Americans seem to agree with my position otherwise why would this “rant” be so much different than many of my impassioned comments of the past. Why would the Internet light up the way it did if people did not feel so strongly. The answer seems pretty obvious; the nerve I struck resonated across the country.

Good lord. It seems Rick Santelli hasn’t spoken to Michelle Malkin, who claims:

The rebellion was already underway before Santelli took a stand on the Chicago trading floor. The Seattle anti-pork protest, spearheaded by independent mom-blogger Keli Carender who comments on this site, took place on Feb. 16. Santelli’s Tea Party call came three days later.

Glenn Reynolds blogged a similar defense, which must be devastating news to Rick Santelli, who seems to believe he started the whole thing. So, shhh. We don’t want Santelli’s head to explode.

Unfortunately for all involved, none of this proves the tea parties weren’t astroturf–especially since, as the folks at Sadly, No! have revealed, those earlier protests drew fewer than two dozen people and don’t appear related to the “movement” that sprang up later. And Malkin herself appears pretty deeply entrenched with the right-wing cabal funding the tea parties.

So this leaves us with two choices where Rick Santelli is concerned: he was either a shill or a tool. The one thing he does not appear to be, for all of his wishing, is the spark that lit the flame.

Sorry, Rick.

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Filed under astroturfing, CNBC, media, Michelle Malkin, Rick Santelli

>CNBC Hating On Ron Paul Supporters

>Hilarious! Via War Room, we learn that managing editor Allen Wastler is ticked at the Ron Paul supporters who ruined his post-Republican debate poll. His Open Letter to the Ron Paul Faithful is comedy gold:

Congratulations. You folks are obviously well-organized and feel strongly about your candidate and I can’t help but admire that.

But you also ruined the purpose of the poll. It was no longer an honest “show of hands” — it suddenly was a platform for beating the Ron Paul drum. That certainly wasn’t our intention and certainly doesn’t serve our readers … at least those who aren’t already in the Ron Paul camp.

Some of you Ron Paul fans take issue with my decision to take the poll down. Fine. When a well-organized and committed “few” can throw the results of a system meant to reflect the sentiments of “the many,” I get a little worried. I’d take it down again.

Oh, the hand-wringing of the clueless. Poor Mr. Wastler is unclear on this whole “internets” thing, and how the “tubes” can get clogged by people who feel strongly one way or the other on an issue. Poor, poor Allen. My dear boy, did you really truly think that CNBC’s previous on-line polls were accurate? No of course you didn’t:

Now these Internet polls are admittedly unscientific and subject to hacking. In the end, they are really just a way to engage the reader and take a quick temperature reading of your audience.

Allen, darling, online polls do not take the temperature of “your audience,” they take the temperature of people who take online polls.

Up next: Allen Wastler learns there is no Santa Claus. Stay tuned.

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Filed under Allen Wastler, CNBC, Ron Paul