Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Doofus Cohen

I don't know if it's really true that Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen is known as "Doofus" among the newspaper's reporters, but I would be surprised if it is not. He is a graduate of the Totally-Misses -the-Point School of Commentary which was founded, as you know, by William Safire, formerly of the New York Times.

Today Mr. Cohen takes Jon Stewart to task for taking the financial media to task.
[Stewart] could use a droll comedian to temper his ferocity and correct him when he's wrong, as he was about the financial media, particularly CNBC and its excitable analyst Jim Cramer. They didn't cover up the story of financial shenanigans. They didn't even know it existed.
He then offers proof! His word, not mine.
For proof, I can offer some names. Let's start with Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, who was instrumental in building what is now probably the world's most reviled corporation, AIG. He resigned as chairman and CEO in 2005, but still it is logical to assume that few people knew more about the company than Greenberg. He kept much of his net worth in AIG stock. He's now lost much of that worth.

Or take Richard Fuld. He is the former chairman of Lehman Brothers, which, as we all know, is no more. He lost about $1 billion.

Or take Citigroup's former chairman, Sanford Weill. He lost about $500 million.

Or take all the good people at Bear Stearns, the company Cramer adored almost to the bitter end. They went down with their stock.

If these people kept their money in these companies -- financial and insurance giants they had built and knew from the inside -- how was even Jim Cramer to know these firms were essentially hollow?
Hey, Doofus, let me give you another name for your list of proof cases: Bernard Madoff.

Are we supposed to think that because these people lost money, they weren't complicit? Is that your proof? Or are we supposed to think that because these very rich, very involved people couldn't figure out the whole thing was going to blow, CNBC couldn't know it was going to blow?

Did Doofus even watch the show? Did he hear Jim Cramer say:
A lot of times where I was short at my hedge fund, and I was positioned short, meaning I needed it down, I would create a level of activity beforehand that would drive the futures. It doesn't take much money.
Did he hear Jim Cramer say:
You can't foment, ... create yourself an impression that a stock's down, but you do it anyway because the SEC doesn't understand it.
Did he? Does he understand the English language? I'm telling you, if your industry operates under ethics like that ... IT'S GONNA BLOW!

Mr. Cohen, Jim Cramer knew the financial shenanigans existed. How you missed that is between you and your editors. They do still have editors at the Washington Post, don't they? They used to have editors. I only ask because there's Cohen's column, and there was that fictitious column about global warming George Will wrote a couple of weeks ago, and there was ... oh, never mind.

Now, Jon Stewart may have been off the mark, but he was a lot closer to it than Doofus Cohen is. The reason I think Stewart may have been off the mark is because of this, from Josh Marshall:
To the best of my knowledge CNBC is not part of the news division at NBC. It's part of the division that runs cable broadcasting. MSNBC is also one of their cable channels; but they report up through the news division. As you can see here, CNBC President Mark Hoffman reports to NBC Universal's Jeff Zucker, not Steve Capus, the president of NBC News. So they're in with Bravo and the rest. And they're under no pressure from the News division to provide editorial objectivity or balance or any editorial standards at all (*). And I mean, half of it is Jim Cramer and Larry Kudlow. So that's pretty obvious.
So America's source of business news, it turns out, is a part of NBC's entertainment division. Are things becoming clearer now?

1 comment:

Ted said...

But my source of news is Comedy Central, so who am I to complain about NBC's entertainment division? My other source of news is Sempringham. Hey, I have a lot on my plate - someone has to sort through it all for me. Thanks Sempringham!