When in doubt blame conservatism, even when it comes to the struggles of a media outlet - and ignore the possibility that liberalism might be to blame.
Ever since Nielsen came out with the July numbers for CNBC that showed the network had suffered a 28 percent ratings decline over a year ago, some of the financial media intelligentsia have been eager to point to what they perceive are the right-leaning political shortcomings of the network as a possible reason.
According to Daniel Gross, the Moneybox columnist for Slate.com and a columnist for Newsweek (and a known proprietor of "teabag" double entendres), there's been a decline in interest in financial news since the markets haven't been as volatile. But Gross is also convinced there's a component of the network's "rightward, anti-Obama tilt," despite its efforts to placate the left.
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.
It's one of the few times one can wish the reporting by NBC News was right and CNBC was wrong.
A segment on the July 21 "NBC Nightly News" pointed out some of the key points of a budget deal reached between California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and leaders of the state legislature. The deal means some service cuts - but also includes the possibility of exploration and drilling for oil off the California coast.
"California is our biggest state in terms of population and it long ago ran out of money," "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams said. "They got nothing to pay the vendors they owe and now they have struck a deal for more cuts, and these are going to hurt. They're going to allow offshore drilling for the money it will bring in. The LA Times reports tens of thousands of seniors and children would lose access to health care. Prisoners will spend less time in prison. And the governor is going to sell cars and furniture and office supplies and autograph some of it, he says, to raise more money. It's an unbelievable turn of events."
On society’s list of most shameful professions, the pornographer would be near the top. What must pornographers think of themselves? They would argue that their industry has joined the mainstream, yet for porn performers, it’s a sordid career fraught with perils of drugs, disease, and in the darker corners of porn, exploitation and abuse.
Take the case of a true pervert, Paul Little, who calls himself "Max Hardcore." The British author Martin Amis submerged himself in the sleaziest subcultures of sex on film for the British newspaper The Guardian a few years ago. He recalled the making of Little’s "Hollywood Hardcore 13." The film included a series of...excretory humiliations.
Looking for wholesome family television oh, say, about 9 pm on July 15? Then make sure not to tune into CNBC. The network will air “Porn: Business of Pleasure,” hosted by Melissa Lee. The special, as touted by the network, will give viewers a look at the pornography industry. But if the marketing is a reliable indication, “Porn: Business of Pleasure” is nothing more than an attempt to normalize, and even promote, the porn industry.
According to a preview, those with qualms about pornography need to get over it. A voiceover explained how porn “is here. People want to see it.” Over images of naughty nurses and various scantily clothed people, a female explained how she wanted to be sex symbol, and another voice said that “pornography has been around since the time of the caveman. It’s not going anywhere.” And that’s just the preview.
The show will be much more than that. CNBC described it as “an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look inside the multibillion dollar pornography business, from the threats to its profitability to exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews with the industry's biggest stars to the one issue that could bring the adult industry to it's knees.”
CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer often showcases erratic and unpredictable behavior and the same goes sometimes for his analysis of the stock market.
While the economy continues to struggle through the recession, the forward-looking indicators known as the financial markets continue to perplex Cramer for not going up when some positive signs, also known as "green shoots" by the financial media, are starting show. According to his analysis - it's the government and a reliance on oil futures that have scared off investors.
"How did we reach this point where investors just can't be bothered to respond to clear unalloyed positives or be tempted by low, low prices of so many stocks?" Cramer said. "I think we've been worn down, I think we've been worn down by two different things - first, the government and then oil. And they're what's keeping everyone apathetic about stocks."
Why is CNBC's Rick Santelli one of the few press members willing to point out when the emperor isn't wearing any clothes?
As you ponder that important question, consider how Santelli on Tuesday morning recognized how absurd Vice President Joe Biden's Sunday comments were concerning the Obama administration misreading how bad the economy was.
After all, as Santelli marvelously asked: "How many hundreds of times has the current administration talked about the worst recession in history? The worst time since the Depression?"
"Last night on this show, I stirred up an angry hornet's nest in the blogs, you know, when I criticized their mean-spirited negativity, bashed them for hiding behind their cowardly cloak of anonymity," Kneale said. "And, I called them dickweeds, a form of pond scum. Well, they have howled with outrage throughout the blogosphere. Blog sites like Dealbreaker, Gawker, Huffington Post, the Business Insider, Zero Hedge and more have incited an online mob to rush to their defense."
While many on the left are reveling in the downfall of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford after he disclosed his affair with a woman in Argentina, there's a sympathetic figure being overlooked that might have the necessary background to fill the void left by the governor should he resign.
On CNBC's June 30 "The Kudlow Report," Wall Street Journal senior economics writer Steve Moore explained his close relationship with the Sanfords and raised a new political possibility.
"This is such a tough thing for me Larry, because as you know Mark Sanford has been a long-time friend of mine," Moore said. "This story truly breaks my heart." Moore suggested that South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford run for her husband's seat - as he called her "the brains of the operation."
While much of the country has been captivated by the passing of pop star Michael Jackson, the scandal of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and turmoil in Iran and Iraq, business news has fallen off the front pages.
"Remember when business was on the front page?" Cramer said. "We were on the front page for awhile. It was really frightening. It's still off - our whole, our whole - the whole stock market, the economy, we're all off the front page. We're no longer important because lovers, this guy Sanford - I'm not that familiar with his story. Those two people in Pennsylvania that were on the ‘Today' show and all those others."
While the media continues to press for passage of universal health care, MRC’s Vice President for Business and Culture, Dan Gainor, appeared on CNBC to discuss whether or not President Obama could actually get health care reform passed. On June 18, anchor Dennis Kneale cited an NBC and Wall Street Journal poll that found 11 percent of voters felt that health care costs are their top economic issue. Only 33 percent felt President Obama’s health care plan was a good idea.
“So is the president’s health care reform plan dead before it even hits the hill?” Kneale asked.
You can't be loved and adored by everybody, but if you're President Barack Obama and it concerns the media, you can come awfully close.
In an interview on CNBC's June 16 "Closing Bell" with the network Washington correspondent John Harwood, Obama reflected on the media coverage he has received to date. Harwood asked the president to respond to the claim that lack of media criticism has allowed him to "hurt" the country.
"When you and I spoke in January, you said, I observed that you haven't gotten much bad press," Harwood said. "You said, ‘It's coming.' Media critics would say not only has it not come, but that you've gotten such favorable press either because of bias or because you're good box office that it's hurting the country because you're not sufficiently being held accountable for your policies. Assess that."
During a CNBC interview, New York Times reporter John Harwood shared an intense moment with President Obama: "He had this fly that was persistently buzzing around him during the interview...he swatted his hand and he said ‘I got the sucker’...it was a, you know, Dirty Harry ‘make my day’ moment."
Harwood described the showdown at the end of the 4PM ET hour on MSNBC, after anchor David Shuster remarked: "John, I know that the President is credited with being sometimes awfully lucky, rainbows appear sometimes when he speaks, but I understand there was an instance today where he killed a fly out of mid-air during your interview." Harwood began to tell the tale: "Well, David, this reminded me of that moment during the campaign when he took a three-point shot at a military base and it swished."
After detailing the President’s courage in battling the insect, Harwood also noted Obama’s cleanliness: "...and at the end of the interview, David, he picked up a napkin off the table and said ‘I clean up after myself’ and he picked up the fly off the carpet." In awe, Shuster observed: "Amazing...An amazing interview...it never fails, great weather, rainbows, incredible speeches, and three-point basket. A fly and he nails it. Unbelievable, unbelievable."
Co-anchor Tamron Hall concluded the discussion by comparing Obama’s quick reflexes to that of the martial arts expert in the movie Karate Kid: "Mr. Miyagi, just snapped it right up. Look at that – look at that intense look."
"North Korea, Syria - I mean these are places when they always have elections, there's always a couple of people who don't vote for the right guy," Cramer said. "But I think the price of oil is going to tell you exactly how everything is going to play out in Iran, which is it's much ado about nothing."
It's a conversation, Barney, not a soliloquy . . .
Discussing the regulation of executive pay with CNBC's Mark Haines today, the testy liberal Dem from Massachusetts was affronted when Haines tried to get in a word edgewise.
Before long, Barney announced that the interview was over, and ripped off his earpiece. Unruffled, Haines got off a good last line: "Fine, goodbye sir. We'll manage without you." [Hat tip reader Chuck S.]
If you stand in the way of President Barack Obama's agenda, beware because there may be a litany of consequences that could result from your act - regardless if the obstacle is legitimate or not.
On June 8, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a stay to review an appeal by a trio of Indiana pension and construction funds that own a part of Chrysler's secured debt. They claimed the administration's handling of the deal that would have sold Chrysler's assets to Italian automaker Fiat (BIT:F) arbitrarily threw 150 years of bankruptcy law out without process of law.
Should it be the role of the government to determine what amount of risk is appropriate in the private sector? President Barack Obama could have been interpreted as suggesting that much in comments he made about TARP repayments on June 9.
CNBC's Rick Santelli responded to those comments earlier in the day from Obama, "that those who seek reward do not take reckless risks." Santelli said on CNBC's "Power Lunch" that it's not the role of the government to make those judgments.
"It makes me a little nervous and some of the people on the floor express this - whether it was the end of the last administration or the current administration, you know to really understand what's wrong and what needs to be right - that statement's very un-American," Santelli said. "You know, why should the government think they know the magic blend of risk and reward? It's the government's role not to fall asleep at the switch, not to have products that are unregulated and to have speed limits."
As both Noel Sheppard and I reported recently, General Electric boss Jeffrey Immelt faced a tough crowd at GE's annual stockholder's meeting in April.
First, Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli asked if media reports that Immelt had tried to silence anti-Obama reporting on GE-owned networks are true. During her dialogue with Immelt, her microphone was cut off (it was restored after she continued talking anyway).
With the federal government issuing massive amounts of debt and the Federal Reserve purchasing it in the name of keeping interest rates down, questions have arisen about impact on the U.S. dollar.
On June 2, CNBC's "Power Lunch," aired a clip of the network's chief economics reporter, Steve Liesman interviewing Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner. Geithner claimed the Federal Reserve wasn't monetizing the debt the government was accruing. Following that clip, CNBC's Chicago Mercantile Exchange floor reporter Rick Santelli, famous for inspiring the anti-tax-and-spending tea parties, questioned Geithner's denial of debt monetization.
"Well, you know the first part of that question was economists are worried about quantitative easing - are we monetizing?" Santelli said. "And his answer was no, we have a strong independent central bank. Now the latter may be true but it certainly isn't an answer to the question and I put forth, and I'd like feedback everybody - that quantitative easing can't exist without the monetization process. We issue debt; we print the money to buy it. That is monetizing. I can't believe that was his answer."
It's the new "C" word according to Melissa Francis, co-host of CNBC's "The Call." Using the word "cartel" to describe OPEC is officially a no- no.
Francis, who was on location in Vienna, Austria at the OPEC summit, reported on an exchange between herself and Ali Al-Naimi, the oil minister of Saudi Arabia during the May 28 broadcast of "Squawk on the Street." In an interview, Al-Naimi took issue with Francis using the word "cartel" to describe OPEC:
Francis: When do you think we'll hit that $75-to-80 range that seem like almost everybody in the cartel agrees is sort of the equilibrium price?
Al-Naimi: You have to be careful calling OPEC a cartel. I resent that.
Is there another shakeup imminent at CNBC? Since the economy has been on the rocks, NBC Universal's financial network has been in the spotlight - political tug-of-war and all. This time, another one of the network's star on-air personalities, Jeff Macke, could be out.
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.
What is the idea of the American dream, of working hard and achieving something, and knowing that all, you know, half your wealth is going to someone who didn't do that?
So asked CNBC's Maria Bartiromo Thursday during a stirring discussion with a union advocate who had the nerve to claim the problems in the auto industry were all caused by a lack of a nationalized healthcare system, and that only the top one percent of wage earners in America should pay federal income taxes.
Unlike most media members who would have applauded such sentiments coming from one of their guests, Bartiromo pushed back, with respect and professional courtesy not seen much from journalists these days, and in a fashion that would make many Americans currently concerned about their nation's direction a wee bit nostalgic and tremendously proud.
What follows is a partial transcript of this exchange, as well as an embedded video of the entire segment:
Remember back in March when Congress had the brilliant idea to retroactively tax bonuses paid out by bailed out insurer American International Group (AIG)? The House voted 328 to 93 for the 90-percent tax on the $165 million in bonuses, but it later died in the Senate.
Steve Moore, a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, explained on CNBC's May 13 "Street Signs" that the punitive retroactive tax was just a distraction to divert attention away from the culpability of Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., for the current financial crisis.
"Remember, Barney Frank was one of the guys right at the center of the financial crisis," Moore said. "I think he had a lot of the blame of this lays at his foot. He said roll the dice on Fanny and Freddie. So the point is I think that these Democrats are trying to redirect the populist storm against members of Congress like Chris Dodd and Barney Frank towards executives. So, I'm not so sure he didn't want that to pass as a way of deflecting criticism."
Mr. Seidman was born April, 29, 1921, in Grand Rapids, Mich. He received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College, his LLB from Harvard University and his MBA from the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.
During World War II, Mr. Seidman served in the U.S. Navy as a communications officer on a destroyer and received the Bronze Star while serving in the invasion of the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.