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.
Roubini, often called Dr. Doom and known for crazy parties, predicted back in 2005 the speculative housing bubble would be the eventual undoing of the economy - and he was correct. However, as Jeff Macke, founder and president of Macke Asset Management and panelist on "Fast Money" explained May 11, being two years early with that prediction wasn't something to hang your hat on.
"Let me give you a little hint on trading," Macke said. "If you're two years early on any idea, what you are mostly is dead. You're a professor, as opposed to a trader. And if we still have time to talk after the five-minute butt kissing we gave the guy, I'll tell you what - he hasn't made anyone a cent. Until he does, as far as I'm concerned, it's a nice opinion but it's not making me money."
If you want to know when the economy is making a comeback, keep a watchful eye on the frequency of high oil and gas price reports in the news.
Throughout 2007 and the first half of 2008, viewers were inundated with high gas and oil price reports on cable and broadcast news. But since hitting $147 back in July 2008, oil prices have plummeted into the low-$40 range mid-January and so has the frequency of doom-and-gloom oil warnings.
However, crude has since rallied into the upper-$50s. And, as crude has rallied, predictions of oil hitting unfathomable heights appear to be making a comeback as well. CNBC's May 8 "The Kudlow Report" considered that $300-a-barrel oil was a possibility.
Back in March, CNBC in what seemed to be an effort to pander to critics on the left, officially named former DNC chair and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean a CNBC contributor.
But aside from campaigning for left-wing MoveOn.org causes in his spare time, Dean will appear on daily CNBC programming. But on the May 7 "Power Lunch," Dean, a contributor for the network with the slogan, "First in Business Worldwide," explained to viewers we've had enough capitalism after conservative radio talk show host Jason Lewis derided the president for supporting bailouts over bankruptcy. (h/t IHTM)
"I think we had quite enough capitalism in the last eight years and I think we need some regulation now," Dean said.
For whatever reason, CNBC keeps lining up challengers to take on its Chicago Mercantile Exchange floor reporter Rick Santelli over his self-reliance, pro-taxpayer persona - whether it's Steve Liesman, Arianna Huffington or this time, Keith Boykin - editor of The Daily Voice, a CNBC contributor and a BET TV host.
ON CNBC's May 7 "The Call," Santelli took on Boykin in the program's "The Call of the Wild" segment. Boykin was armed with the usual anti-George W. Bush talking points to defend President Barack Obama and his policies.
"Look what he inherited first of all," Boykin said.
"He didn't inherit anything," Santelli said. "He ran for office, it was his choice."
Once upon a time, there was Dylan Ratigan, host of CNBC's "Fast Money," and co-host of that network's "Closing Bell." He was never partisan and willing to criticize both political parties in Washington, D.C. Now he seems to think Bristol Palin has taken Karl Rove's job as the sinister mastermind of Republican politics.
"The thing that really stands out to me with this, because the hypocrisy is obvious - it's as obvious as a closeted gay senator voting against gay marriage," Ratigan said. "There's a prevalence in politics of this type of behavior, unfortunately. That's why the conversations like the one we're now having exist."
We were told all throughout the 2008 presidential campaign and on up into the debate over the stimulus that the way out of the current economic malaise is through growing a green economy. "NBC Nightly News" is still on message.
On the May 6 broadcast of "Nightly News," anchor Brian Williams explained that Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) didn't accept federal bailout money, but all the while it has been producing green cars - as if the two were related.
"We have a report tonight on the car industry," Williams said. "The Ford Motor Company has its own challenges ahead, but they are rightfully proud of being the only one of the Detroit big three not to accept taxpayer bailout money. Ford announced today it's retooling a plant that made big gas guzzlers in order to produce smaller, greener cars. And this comes at a time that other automakers are cutting production and thousands of jobs."
CNBC's Steve Liesman has always gone after tea party inspiration and network floor reporter Rick Santelli for his views, but this time it was Santelli playing offense.
The CNBC "Power Lunch" crew was discussing Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) CEO Ken Lewis and disclosure of details surrounding his bank's acquisition of Merrill Lynch May 5. Santelli accused Liesman, CNBC's senior economics reporter of saying "dumb things" and acting like Nixon, when he suggested there could be a compelling reason for Lewis was not forthcoming about the acquisition.
"Ask the question in a more compelling way which is - I want you to save the world and not disclose," Liesman said.
NBC Universal and its networks have been criticized for the global warming alarmism it parades on a regular basis. However, now the criticism is coming from its own affiliates.
Prior to its April 26 airing on MSNBC, shows on NBC had been promoting the first part of the climate special "Future Earth" - an MSNBC program that used computer animation to show the possibilities of a polar icecap melting. That prompted Bill Steffen, a meteorologist for NBC's Grand Rapids, Mich. affiliate, to call out MSNBC for that special.
On CNBC's April 24 "The Call," Santelli expressed his frustration with an overreaction by the government to solve the financial crisis when Kudlow asked him about the expansion of bailout obligations from the original TARP bailout price tag $750 billion to the $3 trillion.
"Listen - I'm glad I didn't say that, I'm glad I didn't say all that," Santelli said. "Do I disagree with it? Probably not. But, I'll take it a step farther - in the beginning, whether it was the commercial paper program, there was a need just like babies have a need for milk. But I don't need to drink a couple of gallons anymore."
As readers here know from Noel Sheppard's report last night, at yesterday's annual GE shareholder meeting, CEO Jeffrey Immelt was challenged on the subject of media bias at GE-owned NBC, CNBC and MSNBC.
The story is far from over.
I encourage those interested in it to watch the O'Reilly Factor tonight for additional in-depth reporting, including the airing at least part of an audio recording of the Q&A session inside the stockholders' meeting made by Tom Borelli and shared with Fox News. (As of this writing, Fox has also made a tiny portion of the tape, the part featuring Fox reporter Jesse Watters asking about about Keith Olbermann's handling of the recent infamous Janeane Garofalo interview, and the shareholders booing when GE cut off Jesse Watters' mike, available on its website now here, and it has been linked to by Drudge.)
The economy is already in rough shape, but some think we should let it go to pot - literally. Pro-legalization advocacy groups are promoting the possibility that legalizing marijuana could provide some economic relief, and the media has eagerly explored the idea.
On April 20, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) aired TV ads calling for marijuana legalization. They ran on CNN, Fox News Channel and were covered by CBS News.
"In the spot, Americans say of the drug, ‘you can tax it, you can regulate it, apply age restrictions...create millions of new jobs ... save our economy,'" Brian Montopoli wrote for CBSNews.com on April 20.
With chatter that this could be a campaign issue in 2010, the new Obama Administration's relaxed policies toward the drug and some people's desperate, try-anything approach to solving the government spending deficits and economic woes, the idea of marijuana legalization is gaining traction with the media.
General Electric held its annual shareholders meeting Wednesday, and attendees apparently were very upset with the increasing leftward tilt of MSNBC.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, during the question and answer phase of the meeting, shareholders repeatedly brought up the company's far-left leaning network, and often had their microphones turned off as a result.
Here are highlights from the THR report (link loading slowly due to appearance at the Drudge Report):