Plenty of comedy fodder for Jon Stewart, the first market rally since November for the financial network.
But while the headline writers were trying to turn the tussle into a Stewart vs. Cramer fight, they missed the story.
The real culprits are the Money Honeys and Hunks of CNBC whose bosses prize familiarity over financial reporting.
Anyone watching CNBC for the past year saw railroad ties' spikes begin to weaken ahead of the train wreck.
With each fawning, softball interview (for example) Maria Bartiromo did with CEOs, the delineation between business and media faded. Supposedly useful and actionable information from a horse’s-mouth became as worthless as day-old carrots and lettuce.
So while Jon Stewart was right when he accused CNBC of using investors’ 401-K’s as capital to finance their on screen video game, some CNBC on air talent figuratively climbed into bed with the company chieftains.
Some of whom, Jim Cramer exclaimed, LIE!
Well, they lied to Bartiromo, too. Except, she didn’t seem to know, and her bosses looked the other way. From traveling on Citigroup’s private jets to first-name chumminess with company execs, Bartiromo parlayed her access and visibility into bigger paydays.
The simple fact is reporters keep their distance from their stories. When Bartiromo began using nicknames for her interviewees, CNBC execs didn't seem to notice. The Secretary of the Treasury is not “Hank.” The Bank of America president is not “Ken.” Maybe your hair stylist is “Donald,” but not your interviewee.
A reporter is supposed to be objective. Being on a first-name basis with the folks who lie to you may be part of “new media” but it is most certainly not part of “old school.”
I haven’t heard David Faber or Steve Liesman or Charlie Gasparino cozy up to a CEO the way Bartiromo and other CNBC anchoresses have done. Faber, Liesman, and Gasparino are reporters. (Even Jon Stewart agrees.) Mark Haines is in nobody’s pocket, and he doesn’t try to be one of the boys.
I guess the bottom line is that if you’re hearing an interview on CNBC that sounds more like a cocktail party conversation than a fact finding effort, somebody is going to have a hangover.