Thursday, March 19, 2009

CNBC: Stupid and Arrogant.

Back in the early 1970s, the oil-producing nations, working together through OPEC, radically raised the price they charged for oil, and cut-back on oil production. All of a sudden, people could not get gasoline for their cars, and the nightly news would show cars lined up for blocks trying to get some gas. Some stations rationed the amount each person could buy. The oil companies also radically increased the price they charged to consumers, which meant people's home heating costs went through the roof. The public was in an uproar.

Some oil companies decided to lay low. They pulled all their advertising hoping that when the public looked around for someone to blame, they'd pick someone else. One oil company chose another course, and increased their advertising. They created lots of sympathetic-sounding commercials, long-winded emotional print ads placed in the major newspapers op-ed with headlines like "We Feel Your Pain."

The oil company that kept advertising, just kept talking, full of excuses and spreading b.s. around the nation is the one that got blamed by most consumers. When people were asked who do they blame for the gas shortage, for some reason that oil company was the first name that came to mind.

A lesson lost on the morons at CNBC who are out in force, blanketing the airwaves with their salespeople (i.e. on-air talent) everywhere to sell the nation on the idea that they, too, are "just folks." Well guess what. Nobody's buying it. And more and more, when people are asked who they blame for this looting and plundering of our nation, they think: CNBC. Duh. They send their billionaires out in shirt sleeves, or send cute little Erin Burnett out for ribbon-cuttings to try to tell everyone that they are just like us. But they're not. They made money off of this plundering, while the rest of us lost it.

Now I understand the temptation to defend themselves. After all, if things don't turn around soon they'll all be out of work. But I think somebody inside the NBC organization might want to re-think their current approach. It's like they've tied the noose, found the tall branch, brought a ladder, and now they're yelling at the whole country: Come over here, help me climb up this ladder.
(Reuters) – "NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker fired back at comedian Jon Stewart on Wednesday, saying it was 'unfair' and 'absurd' for the funnyman to criticize CNBC and question its coverage of financial news."

"'Everybody wants to find a scapegoat. That's human nature,' Zucker said during a keynote address at a media industry conference. 'But to suggest that the business media or CNBC was responsible for what is going on now is absurd.'"

"'Just because someone who mocks authority says something doesn't make it so,' Zucker said, describing the comedian's comments as 'completely out of line.'"

"It's unfair to CNBC and to the business media in general," Zucker said. "I don't think you can blame what happened here on the business media." To which I reply: Okay Mr. Zucker. If it's not CNBC that's to blame, "The Place For Business," then who? QVC? Do you think Joan Rivers sold one broach too many and that sent the world's economy into a tailspin?

Let's look at this proclamation of innocence by NBC. First of all, what did Jon Stewart say? He said (I'm paraphrasing) that lunatic Cramer is selling the stock market like a character out of Damon Runyon sold swamp land in Florida, convincing every Joe Dick and Harry that they too can make millions and be a really cool guy just like him. That allegation by Jon Stewart is undeniably true. Cramer is an entertainer-salesman. He's selling himself, selling a false belief, conning people, and a lot of people have lost a lot of money believing they can get rich in the stock market. So why argue?

"'Listen, you knew what the banks were doing, yet were touting it for months and months,' Stewart said during his March 12 show. 'The entire network was. Now to pretend that this was some sort of crazy, once-in-a-lifetime tsunami that nobody could have seen coming is disingenuous at best and criminal at worst.'"

That's also a true statement.

Stewart is clearly correct in his statements. So why is CNBC in such an uproar? Why is it that every single person in the business world has to lie all the time? They knew what was going on. Yet they told no one. They just kept selling the story, singing their jingles, conning the public. And if they refuse to be truthful, why don't they at least have the brains to keep their mouths shut?

Jim Cramer showing up on The Daily Show is like Scarlett O'Hara showing up in the crimson red low-cut ball gown at Melanie Wilke's house, right after Scarlett had been "seen" kissing Ashley. What was Cramer thinking?

There appears to be a legitimate basis right now for a class action lawsuit against CNBC. They are not "reporting" financial news and providing an intelligent analysis. They're selling swampland. They sell sell sell no matter what. Does anyone doubt that behind the scenes this place sounds a lot like Glengerry Glen Ross? They're selling the public on the idea that the public, individual investors, can outsmart the institutional investors and make money. It's like telling some gambler in Las Vegas that they can outsmart the dealer and get rich. Not really. The game is rigged so that the house always wins in the long run.

What the people at CNBC know is that individual investors are more likely to lose everything than to make money. They also know when businesses are going down. They also know who advertises on their programs, who essentially underwrites their paychecks. There is nothing independent in their reporting on or analysis about the people who pay their bills: Wall Street.

CNBC is just one big Info-Mercial, selling Wall Street. They might as well be selling cocaine. At least with cocaine people might have a few happy moments, a couple of really big nights, before they die miserable, in the gutter, dead broke.

I hope there is a class action lawsuit against CNBC and its on-air salesforce. And anyone who has been directing them, including the arrogant Mr. Zucker if he was involved in directing this channel. At a minimum, I would say there are legitimate claims for negligent misrepresentation and for intentional concealment. Both of which carry not just actual damage but punitive damage claims.

If these people want to run 24-hour Info-tainment, then each "reporter" should stand behind a bar that has a juicer, an electric fry pan, and a mini-chicken-roaster on it, and be required to demonstrate new recipes at the same the same time they are gushing over their boyfriends on Wall Street. And wear aprons, too.

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