Rick Santelli is the star of perhaps the most politically consequential online video, viral to the extreme, of the past year (right). On February 19, 2009 he let loose on the Obama administration's economic policies on CNBC's "Squawk Box", calling for a "tea party", and inspiring millions of Americans to speak out against what he and many others see as collectivist economics policies pursued by the President and Congress..
“That was spontaneous, absolutely,” he said in an interview with the Daily Caller. “It was also from the heart, and I had no idea of the direction it would take or the response it would get.”
Almost a year later, Santelli is widely seen as the godfather of a large political coalition that, according to some polls, rivals the two major parties in popularity. The Tea Party protesters staged 48 simultaneous protests on tax day last year, a rally on the lawn of the Capitol with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of attendees, and will hold its own convention this week, with Sarah Palin giving the keynote address.
It's curious to see people in the mainstream media try to make sense of the Tea Party movement. The New York Times, which once called the Tea Parties a psychological phenomenon rather than a political movement, has now changed its tune.
In the wake of the stunning upset by Scott Brown in the Jan. 19 Massachusetts special election to fill the seat vacated by Ted Kennedy's death, the Times is attempting a more analytical look at the so-called "tea party tiger." Specifically, the Times looked at some key figures in the movement, Sen. Jim DeMint, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Fox News host Glenn Beck and CNBC CME group reporter Rick Santelli.
CNBC ‘Squawk Box' co-host Joe Kernen told Santelli about the Times story on Jan. 25.
CNBC "Squawk Box" co-hosts Joe Kernen and Becky Quick get it. Unfortunately, their CNBC colleague that covers Washington, D.C. for the network doesn't.
On the Jan. 22 broadcast, Harwood appeared on the program to give a status report on the current version of health care reform being negotiated in Congress and what it means in the aftermath of Scott Brown's filibuster-proof busting election victory in Massachusetts on Jan. 20. Kernen suggested that the health care bill might have been forced through if not Brown's election and the public fervor it revealed.
"I think it's unbelievable that it would have gone through and they would have definitely jammed it through if this weird, serendipitous seat hadn't opened up and if there hadn't been a special election, 17 percent of the economy - based on what they wanted to do, based on what these elected officials wanted to do, against what the public wants - they would have just rammed it through, either way," Kernen said.
But Ted Turner, founder of the first truly 24-hour cable news channel, doesn't see anything wrong with the channel's heading. CNBC's Joe Kernen asked Turner if he had any problems with CNN's direction during a "Squawk Box" appearance Jan. 14.
"I know you love CNN," Kernen said. "It's your baby. I know you're not involved in running it anymore, but when you look at the way Fox News in 10 years has sort of risen above CNN in terms of ratings and profitability and other metrics, would you advise - should CNN stay the course with their idea it's just straight news, or do they need to change with the times and become more opinion-based."
While much of the national media was focused on a Christmas Eve Senate vote to pass health care reform legislation, the Obama administration's Treasury Department was tending to other business that will have serious implications for the U.S. economy. But did anyone notice?
As Zachary Goldfarb reported for The Washington Post on Christmas Day, the Obama Treasury said it would lift the limits on what the federal government could provide in "emergency aid" to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - without seeking permission from Congress. That led CNBC CME Group floor reporter Rick Santelli to ask if anyone noticed and/or realized what was really at stake with this move during the Dec. 29 broadcast of "Squawk Box."
It's often said markets function better when there is gridlock in Washington, D.C. because there's less of a chance for government will interfere in the private sector, creating a sense of security. But in this day and time, that theory applies to the U.S. dollar as well.
On CNBC's Dec. 17 "Squawk Box," CNBC Chicago Mercantile Exchange reporter Rick Santelli debated what was causing the recent rise in the U.S. dollar. Santelli, the original inspiration for the tea party movement, squared off with Jim Iuorio, CNBC "OptionsAction" regular and CME trader, about the cause - a weakened European economy or the place in the calendar year.
"So Rick, is the bigger deal right now on the dollar move - the risk-aversion trade because of the end of the year or because of the problems in Europe?" Iuorio said. "Or is it a combination of both? Which is the bigger thing, do you think?"
"It's 12 straight days in the [New York] Post right now," Rovell said. "Everyday since Nov. 29, there's been a Tiger Woods story. When does it end? We don't know. I'm not going to get into the details of this, but from a business standpoint - how about Donald Trump on 'Extra' yesterday?"
In an interview on CNBC's Nov. 3 "Squawk Box," following the announcement of his purchase of Burlington Northern (NYSE:BNI), Buffett was asked to comment on the future of news media, in particular newspapers and business news by "Squawk Box" co-host Becky Quick. Buffett is optimistic on the future of business news.
"Our system has just gotten started," Buffett said. "I mean, we've had a couple of hundred years of progress, but we have not exhausted our potential in this country. America's about business and business in America, you know have gone to greatness hand and hand. So, you do not need to worry about CNBC 10 or 20 or 30 years from now. Business will always be important to the American public."
Is Fox News Channel president Roger Ailes about to score another big name personality for his fledgling off-spin business channel? According to The New York Times television and digital media reporter Brian Stelter, News Corp's (NASDAQ:NWS) Fox Business Network is considering adding CNN "Lou Dobbs Tonight" host Lou Dobbs to its lineup.
"The business channel is also keen on another administration critic, Lou Dobbs, who met for dinner with Mr. Ailes last month, according to two people with direct knowledge of the meeting," Stelter wrote in a piece for the Oct. 12 Times about the growing divide between Fox News and the Obama administration. "The shift for Fox News - the favorite network of the Bush administration, now the least favored one of the Obama administration - has financial implications for the News Corporation, especially given the network's status as a growth engine in a perilous time for media companies."
The perils of punditry: On Monday, CNBC chief Washington correspondent and New York Times political writer John Harwood predicted that the Massachusetts legislature would not pass a law enabling Democratic Governor Deval Patrick to pick a temporary successor to the late Senator Ted Kennedy. “I don’t think so. Doesn’t look like it,” Harwood announced on CNBC’s Squawk Box.
The very next day, the Massachusetts Senate passed the bill that would partially reverse the law Democrats passed in 2004 to prevent a Republican governor from naming a Senate replacement if Senator John Kerry had been elected president. The bill reached Governor Patrick yesterday, and today, Patrick announced the selection of former Democratic National Chairman Paul Kirk to become Senator until the state’s voters pick a permanent replacement in January.
Not everyone at the NBC Universal umbrella of networks got the gag order memo about the Sept. 12 march on Washington, D.C.
Rick Santelli, who has been a target of the Obama White House and is credited with being the inspiration for the 2009 tea party movement, spoke out about how the media ignored the march. But, a year after the fall of Lehman Brothers, he was making the larger point that the government's intervention to thwart a financial crisis had been an ineffectual and potentially dangerous maneuver at the expense of taxpayers.
"I think this one-year anniversary is great, but I think it's great for another reason," Santelli said on CNBC's Sept. 14 "Squawk Box." "I think someday we'll learn that we didn't need to do very much, that time heals all wounds and you don't have to go broke in the process."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) has climbed nearly 45 percent since hitting a March 9 low. The S&P 500 (S&P) is up nearly 53 percent. And the NASDAQ (NASDAQ) has soared a whopping 61 percent since the March bottom.
But that rally has some analysts shaking their heads. Art Cashin, a CNBC regular who also makes frequent appearances on CBS and NBC news programs to offer insight on the financial markets, was skeptical. He told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Sept. 11 he got some of his money out of the market and got burnt, but is still scratching his head over the rally.
"Away from that, I'm still somewhat skeptical about this," Cashin said. "I've been wrong, got out too early, certainly. I took some money off the table as I told you, about a week and a half, two weeks ago. Didn't take it all off, um, may take some more off if they keep going."
Ben Bernanke's able use of monetary policy to steer the economy during the current financial crisis sometimes makes it easy to forget that Bernanke helped steer the ship into that crisis early in his term as Federal Reserve Chairman and a member of the Fed's Board of Governors. That's a point Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor) founder and CEO George Friedman made when asked the likelihood of President Obama reappointing Bernanke.
"Bernanke presided over the events leading up to the greatest financial crisis we've seen in quite a while," Friedman told CNBC's Steve Liesman. "The best that can be said is that he didn't make it any worse than he already made it. The president is not going to be wanting to reappoint the man that most of the country regards as responsible for the problem."
On Aug. 3, Richard Bernstein, CEO of Richard Bernstein Capital Management and CNBC contributor, told "Squawk Box" viewers: "One has to wonder how much TARP money has gone into bank balance sheets to speculate on commodities, right? Because the amount that's - the amount of speculation in commodities on bank balance sheets is much larger than what you get from the CFTC."
Invoking the word "crisis" might conjure up images of a Category 5 hurricane bearing down on the U.S. Gulf Coast or some other situation where decisive action much be taken to avert impending doom. But, is it appropriate to suddenly attach it to the key issue put forth by Obama administration, such as health care?
On July 30, CNBC dedicated its three-hour morning show "Squawk Box" to the issue and labeled the special coverage: "America's Healthcare Crisis." CNBC used the word "crisis" despite polls (including a July 30 Time article) that found 80 percent of the respondents satisfied with their health care.
General Electric (NYSE:GE) is the parent company of the major media conglomerate NBC Universal, which owns media outlets NBC, MSNBC and CNBC. At times that has led to the lines between corporate advocacy and journalism being blurred.
That was certainly the case when GE's CEO Jeff Immelt appeared on CNBC's "Squawk Box" May 20 to discuss the White House meeting of President Barack Obama's 16-member Economic Recovery Advisory Board headed by former Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker.
Immelt used his platform at CNBC to make the case for a cap-and-trade program to curb emissions - something Obama has called for and one Congressional committee is debating this week.
While Fox News has celebrated the Taxpayer Tea Party rallies and MSNBC has denigrated them, the impetus of the movement - CNBC and specifically Rick Santelli, its inspiration - had been conspicuously quiet about it.
"A lot of articles about these tea parties," Kernen said. "They all have your name in them, like you caused it. Are you actually attending any or are you just sort of got the idea going initially? What do you think? I mean, you're like a cultural phenomenon at this point."
With the Tax Day tea party rallies just three days away, outside of the Fox News Channel, the coverage has been lacking. And, it was something that even Washington Post media columnist and host of CNN's "Reliable Sources" Howard Kurtz acknowledged on his April 12 program.
"The folks at Fox News have found something to be for in this age of Obama," Kurtz said. "They are firmly in favor of tea parties. On Wednesday, that would be April 15th - there will be tax protests around the country on the theme of the original Boston Tea Party. TaxDayTeaParty.com says it was inspired by that rant against President Obama's mortgage aid plan by CNBC's Rick Santelli."
However, Kurtz didn't condemn his network and other networks for lack of coverage - but instead explored the notion that Fox News was giving it too much coverage.
Since former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean stepped down as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, he has ventured into other opportunities.
One of those opportunities was to be a business pundit for the financial news channel CNBC, even though Dean's background prior to politics was in medicine. But just over a week later, in an e-mail dated April 2 to MoveOn.org mailing list subscribers, Dean wrote he was leaving Washington to hit the campaign trail "to help President Obama win health care for all."
Arianna Huffington, who appeared as a guest host on CNBC's March 31 "Squawk Box" has following of left-wing readers and bloggers, as the editor of the very popular Huffington Post blog. The two faced off on "Squawk Box" about how the housing crisis should be handled. Huffington asked Santelli what his thoughts were on more government assistance for underwater homeowners to prevent another round of foreclosures.
"Well, the whole country is underwater I guess," Santelli replied. "It's just a matter of where you want to point the bailout gun. I would certainly like to see some of those mortgage contracts gone through to find out where the erroneous and inaccurate and illegal contracts and separate those from the rest because I think that a lot of the information on the original mortgage contracts is not accurate and I don't think it would be very fair to put those in the same camp as other foreclosures."
Perhaps this post could be headlined "CNBC Continues to Atone for Its Outspoken Obama Criticism."
As if announcing Democratic National Committee chairman and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean as a "CNBC contributor" weren't enough, CNBC has invited the editor in chief of one of the its biggest critics to guest co-host one of CNBC's most popular shows.
Originally reported in a status update from Arianna Huffington's Facebook page on March 24, and later confirmed by Huffington herself in an e-mail with the Media Research Center, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post will co-host CNBC's "Squawk Box" on March 31.
It might appear so now that former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, also the former chair of the Democratic National Committee, was officially named a CNBC contributor on the March 23 "Squawk Box" by co-host Joe Kernen.
"Joining us for the next two hours, former DNC chair and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who is as of today a CNBC contributor," Kernen said.
CNBC had also named Tony Fratto, a former Bush administration Deputy Press Secretary as a contributor to the chagrin of some on the left. Kernen remarked Dean's status as a contributor was an effort to show the network was "balanced."
Since his now-famous Chicago Tea Party outburst from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in February, CNBC's Rick Santelli had seemingly disappeared from the spotlight.
However, on CNBC's March 17 "Squawk Box," Santelli, using similar theatrics, noted that the Obama administration as been very concerned about $165 million in bonuses paid out to American International Group (AIG) executives, even though they were recipients of bailout money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
"Well, I mean it seems as though the administration really hit this one head on. They're not happy about it, right?" Santelli said.
In a speech on March 16, President Barack Obama called it an "outrage" and said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was pursuing "legal avenues" to block the bonuses. In Santelli's view, Obama seemed to be worrying about millions, instead of the billions and trillions.
All the current outrage and attention to bonuses paid out to employees of institutions that received federal bailout money is misplaced, according to an analyst that appeared on CNBC Asia on March 16.
The media is making much of the news that American International Group (AIG) executives are receiving compensation in the form of bonuses. But Kirby Daley, senior strategist at the Newedge Group explained how the focus was in the wrong place. Although some say allowing Lehman Brothers to fail in September 2008 was a mistake, it prevented the problem of taxpayer money being used for executive compensation.
"I'm not so sure that was a mistake," Daley said. "And what I mean by that is, look I had dozens of friends there. It's very painful and to see an institution like that go down, one that I have followed for years - it hurts."
The lesson according to Daley - either allow the institutions to have the same fate as Lehman Brothers, or just outright nationalize them.
The U.S. is at war with the failing economy, according to Warren Buffett, who told CNBC viewers that it had "fallen off a cliff."
In September 2008, Buffett compared the market turmoil to "an economic Pearl Harbor," and on March 9 he returned to that metaphor in a "Squawk Box" interview that began at 6 a.m. and continued through the 7 and 8 a.m. program hours. Buffett also criticized the Democratic majority for losing focus and trying to move on "pet projects."
"If you're in a war, and we really are in an economic war, there's a obligation to the majority to behave in ways to not go around inflaming the minority. If on Dec. 8, or maybe it was Dec. 7, when Roosevelt convened Congress to vote on the war. He didn't say, ‘I'm throwing in about ten of my pet projects,'" Buffett said.
Taking aim at one such issue, interviewer Joe Kernen replied: "You might not have fixed global warming the day after - the day after D-Day, Warren."
Before today, CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer was known for his outlandish statements and crazed antics that would land him in the public spotlight.
However, Cramer got one-upped today by CNBC's Rick Santelli, calling for something like a "Chicago Tea Party" revolt against the redistributionism that is plaguing our federal government. Cramer, in his "Stop Trading" segment on CNBC's "Street Signs" on Feb. 19, remarked it was odd no one was talking about Exxon-Mobil (NYSE:XOM) downgrade, overshadowed by Santelli's revelation.
"I'm sorry not be screaming about class warfare and how you should have your house ripped out from underneath you, but I actually get excited about stocks," Cramer said.
What's really revolting about this is the studio reaction. While it's maybe half-kidding at times, the fact that strong opposition to government policies expressed by Santelli and the traders makes these reporters instinctively think of the them being "putty" in Santelli's hands and of "mob rule" is very, very telling -- especially since I haven't heard a peep out of any reporter worried about "mob rule" in ACORN's civil disobedience campaign designed to prevent the carrying out of lawful foreclosures.
Here's a transcript of most of what was said earlier today (I would add bolds, but I would have to bold almost everything):
It's been called "the rant heard around the world," after The Drudge Report linked to the video with a screaming red headline. However Rick Santelli may have given CNBC viewers a preview of what effects Obamanomics will have on the populace.
On CNBC's "Squawk Box" Feb. 19, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange floor reporter, along with several traders, expressed his outrage about President Barack Obama's plan to "spread the wealth" for people that didn't deserve it. He said a stimulus should go to people who live responsibly rather than some sort of housing bailout to people that lived irresponsibly.
"I tell you what, I have an idea," Santelli shouted. "The new administration is big on computers and technology - how about this, President and new administration? Why don't you put up a Web site to have people vote on the Internet as a referendum to see if we really want to subsidize the losers' mortgages, or would we like to at least buy cars and buy houses in foreclosure and give them to people that might have a change to actually prosper down the road and reward people that could carry the water instead of drink the water."
It's special treatment for automakers, according to a former airline executive.
Gordon Bethune, the former CEO of Continental Airlines (NYSE:CAL), now a CNBC contributor, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Dec. 19 the political process is being substituted for what otherwise should be a bankruptcy judge in determining the fate of the big three automakers.
"Wow, what makes them exempt from reality? What are the bankruptcy laws invented for?" Bethune asked. "I mean - if it works in airlines, works in steel - what's the matter with these guys? Why not have a judge decide instead of the political process? And, you know - you get some fairness in the federal court, so there's no excuse for this whole debacle I don't think."
"You can see that even in Europe, some of the climate concerns, given this, this once in a lifetime recession, John - to put someone that, an advocate of such strong measures," Kernen said on "Squawk Box" Dec. 11. "Really I've seen her called Brownies or Brownistas. Um. That's a little scary with what's happening right now."
Earlier Kernen was discussing cabinet appoints with CNBC Washington correspondent John Harwood and pointed to new regulations Browner could institute: