Sunday, March 08, 2009

CNBC gives Financial Advice! UPDATE

A showdown between a comedian who the FT says has become one of America’s most challenging news commentators and a news commentator known for his comedic antics has shone the brightest spotlight on the media’s market coverage since the financial crisis began.

On Thursday night, two cable television celebrities squared off as Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show news parody programme on Viacom’s Comedy Central channel confronted Jim Cramer, the former hedge fund manager and star of CNBC’s Mad Money programme.

Following a week of digs at the GE-owned financial news channel, blaming it for boosterish coverage of Wall Street institutions before they collapsed, Stewart played the role of a prosecutor as he castigated his guest in person as a “snake-oil salesman”.

Cramer, usually over-the-top, was sometimes contrite, admitting he had got many things wrong, and CNBC was fair game.

Jon Stewart v Jim Cramer in The Daily Show Episode March 12, 2009 in response to previous week's video below on CNBC

We at Finfacts are fans of the CNBC business television network, but as in so many areas of modern punditry, we are struck by the conveyor-belt of "experts" of the moment, who tender advice and make forecasts but their batting average doesn't seem to matter.

A brass neck appears to be a lot more important, than prescience, in the world of punditry. The term "inoperative" comes to mind.

In April 1973, Time Magazine reported that "White House Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler enlarged the vocabulary last week, declaring that all of Nixon's previous statements on Watergate were "inoperative." Not incorrect, not misinformed, not untrue—simply inoperative, like batteries gone dead."

On US cable talk television, apart from the contributions of "experts," presenters are given leeway to project their own prejudices.

In a recent article on the free market, I referred to CNBC's Rick Santelli angry reaction to bailouts for "loser homeowners," while Wall Street and wealthy rancher beneficiaries of the most recent Farm Bill, would be a fairer target for his ire.

Santelli has at least been consistent unlike colleagues.

The above is Jon Stewart of the popular The Daily Show, holding CNBC to account.