Friday, March 13, 2009

Jim Cramer's America

I actually found the gotcha re-plays of the "Cramer tells people to commit securities fraud" video frustrating. He's not going to confess to federal crimes on air; it's not clear to me that those particular shenanigans were the source of the current collapse (probably not), nor is it clear how widespread that sort of behavior is (well, probably not prevalent, but not infinitesimal either), nor that CNBC is particularly complicit in hiding this stuff.

The real crime of CNBC, of course, is the other stuff that Stewart kept touching on; it's the fact that CNBC is, basically, a network of soothsayers who are trying to convince their audience that they can make money on the stock market in the short run. The station is bullish to the point of absurdity, and, it seems particularly bullish on ever increasing returns to the financial sector. Nouriel Roubini and Nassim Nicholas go on the show in the middle of an economic meltdown and get peppered with requests for stock tips. There's no need for a financial news network to be run this way; financial professionals are smart enough to tune out what talking heads have to say and listen to guests from the government or businesses, and Bloomberg TV doesn't have quite the same tone.

This raises the question of who CNBC sees as its target audience; people working on Wall Street, guys who listen to what Warren Buffet has to say, or daytraders sitting at their E*Trade consoles amped up on testosterone. My hunch is that they think their producing a product for that third group, probably because it's the easiest way to maximize ratings.

Lastly, as with Stewart's interview of Colin Powell, the fact that the anchor of a fake news show is the only person capable of performing a sufficiently in-depth interview demonstrates the utter absurdity of our current era in general and the behavior of major press outlets in particular. Time for a blogger ethics panel.

Update: shorter Nicholas Beaudrot: "... increasingly “business news” doesn’t report news about business so much as it does advocacy for investor class interests". This is why Matt Yglesias has a paid gig writing, and I have a paid gig programming and doing math.
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