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:
Who's going to be the leader of the financial world in the role of Treasury Secretary under President Obama? It may be Democratic New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, who has pushed for an additional economic stimulus package to the tune of $300 billion to support infrastructure projects.
CNBC's Carl Quintanilla asked Corzine outright on "Squawk Box" if he would accept a job in the Obama administration as Treasury Secretary. "If it's offered, governor, will you say no?" Quintanilla asked.
"Squawk Box" co-host Joe Kernan encouraged Corzine to consider accepting the job if offered, even as the former U.S. senator expressed his contentment as governor. "You could save the world" as Treasury Secretary, Kernan said.
An Obama victory could boost conservative talk show hosts according to CNBC's "Squawk Box" this election day. The show was more skeptical over the future of left-wing talk. Always with the rhetorical questions, Joe Kernen got things started:
Who is going to win in terms of the cable wars? ... Are we going to become totally nonpartisan now? Do you think that we will be able to bury all of our divisions and there won't be any incendiary cable shows anymore? Who wins if Obama wins? What happens to Olbermann? What's Olbermann going to do, or Maddow?
Co-host Carl Quintanilla suggested "television feeds on conflict" and co-host Rebecca Quick followed up by adding that syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh "has done better" when there are Democrats in power.
Kernen said that Limbaugh and Fox News Channel and syndicated radio host Sean Hannity both signed new deals and an Obama win would be "great for them."
It may not have been "huge" when CNBC's Joe Kernen said it but the dude has been on practically every news station by now.
Kernen told chief Washington correspondent John Harwood that the "Joe the plumber" story "would be huge" and even a "bombshell," in any other election year. Kernen said voters "don't care" because they are buying into Sen. Obama's assertion that the Bush tax policies have led to the financial crisis.
"Obviously not everyone out there knows how to connect the dots between the [financial crisis] and tax policy. For some reason the Bush tax policies are being cited by Obama as the reason that we're in this position right now, again and again and again," said "Squawk Box" co-host Kernen Oct. 16.
Conservative opposition to a federal bailout of financial institutions is over campaign donations, not a desire to uphold sound market principles, according to CNBC.
CNBC's chief Washington correspondent John Harwood said Sept. 25 on "Squawk Box" that he had a conversation with "a top Republican member of congress last night" who told him the resistance among conservatives to the $700 billion bailout plan is in part due to Wall Street donations to Democrats.
"‘A lot of our guys have decided that we hate Wall Street ... because they're giving a lot of money to Democrats right now,'" Harwood said he was told by an unnamed source.
"We've talked about how nice the bi-partisan coming together of the far left and the far right to oppose this plan. It was heartwarming, right? That finally brought the fringe elements of both sides together on this," co-host Joe Kernen joked.
On The Situation Room today, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer made a surprising admission to, of all people, real estate entrepreneur Donald Trump:
BLITZER: What do you think of his (Obama's) decision to pick Joe Biden as his running mate?
TRUMP: I really don't know Senator Biden but I know one thing. He's run a number of times for president. He's gotten less than 1 percent of the vote each time. And that's a pretty tough thing. You know, he's also been involved in pretty big controversy like plagiarism in college and various other things. That's a pretty big statement. So perhaps you change over a period of time. But when you plagiarize, that's a very bad statement. That hasn't been brought up yet, but I'm sure at some point it will. I'm sure that Sarah Palin will bring it up in a debate or somebody's going to bring it up.
BLITZER: Are you talking about plagiarism when he was running for president?
TRUMP: No, I'm talking about when he was a college student as I understand it, and this was a big issue originally but he supposedly plagiarized as a college student. That's a pretty serious charge.
BLITZER: I don't remember that. We'll check it out. But maybe you obviously have a better memory about that.
On CNBC's "Squawk Box," reporter Charlie Gasparino told co-host Joe Kernen, "I will say this about the Bear Stearns thing when you compare that [Lehman] with this. I think our reporting was incredibly responsible. It was so responsible ... and you know we went out of our way with Bear Stearns ... We just report on how feckless management is and I can't help that Bear Stearns was feckless. [Lehman] was feckless too and that is the scary part."
"They're going to parse every ‘is' that a journalist said," said Kernen. "We don't hammer the stock. We watch the stock get hammered and then we talk about it."
On CNN's American Morning today, White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reported on Barack Obama's campaigning in Virginia. Afterwards, anchor Kiran Chetry had a question:
CHETRY: All right. And Suzanne, what's on tap for the campaign today? And please tell me it's not lipstick again.
MALVEAUX: Let's hope not. He's going to be in Norfolk, Virginia. That is in southeast Virginia, and it's home to the world's largest Naval base. It's one of the most competitive areas that the Democrats and Republicans are fighting over. It's a critical piece of property, piece of land there with folks in Virginia, and they want those voters.
John Harwood, CNBC's chief Washington Correspondent, admitted this morning "that people who talk about bias in the mainstream press, left of center bias, are not imagining things." He went on to explain, "It has to do with the kind of people who go into journalism, okay? So I'm not arguing with that general notion. I think that those of us in journalism have to do our best to try to present the most objective view we can of what we have, but everybody brings their own filter into it."
Harwood's admission of liberal bias in the media came out during a discussion about the Republican Convention with "Squawk Box" host Joe Kernan at about 6:14am EDT on Wednesday. Kernan pointed out a bit of bias he observed in CNN's coverage of the convention last night when Wolf Blitzer stated "We want you to see, to get a feeling for what it's like to be here whether you agree with what they're saying or not." Kernan pointed out that Blitzer did not say that during the Democratic Convention last week.
CNBC's "Squawk Box" co-host Joe Kernen took a moment during a panel discussion September 2 to take a shot at the onslaught of coverage over presumptive vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's daughter's pregnancy.
You know as a member of the media I'm just kind of embarrassed with the media. The media says, "Yeah it shouldn't matter, it's not going to matter, we're not going to cover it" and then they put it on the cover of every paper.
Earlier in the broadcast Kernen told chief Washington correspondent John Harwood he did not think the family incidence was as big a deal as the media was making it out to be:
Felt a little bit like the guy in Casablanca, shocked, you know: teen sex in Alaska, John. Probably not that much of a shocker I guess, right? Not a whole lot. I guess bowling, yeah, It's a little lonely probably up there, right, John? ... I don't understand everybody at the same time saying that this is not going to be a big deal ... the press is going to be responsible about this, Barack Obama please don't make anything of this, but then it's the cover of every paper like it, you know, like matters.
Add John Harwood to the list of Barack Obama sycophants, for on Tuesday morning's "Squawk Box," CNBC's chief Washington correspondent actually crossed his fingers hoping that Hillary Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention tonight can bring about a much-needed catharsis amongst her disgruntled supporters.
In fact, he not only told the viewing audience to cross their fingers, but as he said it, also looked into the camera while crossing his own (file photo).
It seems like a no-brainer: Raising taxes is bad. It's a shame that Barron's is one of the few outlets to pick up on it.
An economic plan floated out by Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, Ill., would raise taxes on incomes above $250,000 - with the highest rate at 39.6 percent - and redistribute the wealth to the poor and middle-class. But that would be a big mistake, according to an article by Jim McTague in the August 25 issue of Barron's.
"It's almost as if Obama wants to repeat the mistakes of Herbert Hoover," McTague wrote. "During the Great Depression, Hoover raised the top marginal rate to 63% from 25% and hiked corporate taxes, too, says Michael Aronstein, chief investment strategist at Oscar Gruss & Son in New York. The moves siphoned needed investment capital out of the markets and into the hands of bureaucrats, delaying the turnaround."
Perhaps the media's Obama lovefest isn't as infectious as previously thought - at least in some corners of the financial media. For the second day in a row CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera noted low taxes - a conservative economic ideal - trumps those of the left, both economically and politically.
"You know what I just love, Doug?" Caruso-Cabrera asked. "Everybody and their mother, whenever they want to endorse their tax plan - they want to cite the almighty Ronald Reagan, right? I mean, everybody wants to dump all over the Republicans, but when they want to tout their economic and their tax plan, who do they go back to? The guy who cut taxes and cut taxes."