Skip to comments.Liberals Complain, CNBC Caves In
Posted on 04/01/2009 11:40:05 AM PDT by abb
With the economy suffering a steep downturn and a new hands-on approach by the federal government to correct it, financial news outlets have received increasing scrutiny. None more so than CNBC.
The cable channel, along with its left-of-center sister network MSNBC, operates under the umbrella of NBC Universal. One openly liberal NBC network apparently isnt enough. The left from the White House to think tanks to bloggers has targeted CNBC because of its traditional pro-investment point-of-view. After a few weeks of criticism, the network seems to be taking the criticism to heart and making a big left turn.
CNBC went from comparing President Barack Obama to Lenin in January to saying he was pro-shareholder two months later. The network that inspired anti-tax tea parties and criticized the Obama administration as economically destructive became the same one that features Howard Dean as contributor and Arianna Huffington as a guest host.
A New Tone? Dean Hired, Huffington Guest Hosts, Outspoken Reigned In
As Isaac Newton said, Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and thats just what happened in the wake of the criticism of the network CNBC announced a couple of bold moves to show it wasnt the anti-Obama echo chamber that some alleged.
First, former Vermont Gov. and former chair of the Democratic National Committee Howard Dean, was officially named a CNBC contributor on the March 23 Squawk Box with a comment 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.
But Dean, a medical doctor by training, isnt really one who always has the investors best interests at heart. As Stephen Moore, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal and regular CNBC guest, pointed out during Deans 2004 presidential run, he isnt known for pro-growth policies.
When it comes to taxes, Mr. Dean thinks really big. In raw numbers, the Dean tax proposal would raise taxes on 109 million Americans by roughly $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years, Moore wrote for the Journal on Jan. 2, 2004. This comes out to a Dean tax of about $15,440 for every family of four in the U.S. over the next decade. The Dean tax rule of thumb is that if you are in the middle class, he would roughly double your federal income tax payments.
The day after the Dean announcement, Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, disclosed she would co-host CNBCs Squawk Box on March 31. Just the day before the Huffington Post dedicated half its front page to criticizing Squawk on the Street co-host Mark Haines.
Huffington is not exactly your quintessential free marketer. In a column written on Dec. 28, 2008, the Huffington Post founder declared laissez-faire capitalism as dead as Soviet communism ignoring the variables government itself played in what caused the current financial crisis.
It's time to drive the final nail into the coffin of laissez-faire capitalism by treating it like the discredited ideology it inarguably is, Huffington wrote. If not, the Dr. Frankensteins of the right will surely try to revive the monster and send it marauding through our economy once again. We've only just begun to bury the financially dead, and the free market fundamentalists are already looking to deflect the blame.
Huffingtons actual on-air appearance was largely uneventful with exception of a brief skirmish between her and Santelli over housing bailouts.
Some people should be renters and yes, I think some banks need to fail, Santelli said to Huffington on the issue of housing and bank bailouts on the March 31 Squawk Box.
However, since Huffington announced she was appearing on the CNBC morning show, the liberal blog hasnt posted any screaming headlines decrying what their contributors perceived to be an indiscretion.
The most tragic casualty of the lefts assault on CNBC would have to be Mad Money host Jim Cramer. The former hedge-fund manager now avoids criticizing Obamas policies he disagrees with, and instead accentuates the ones he agrees with.
Cramer appeared on NBCs March 24 Today along with CNBC Squawk on the Street co-host and Street Signs host Erin Burnett and announced Obama was officially pro-shareholder a complete contradiction of his proclamation less than two months earlier that Obama was uttering the words of Lenin.
We have to put the shareholders somewhere in the equation, Cramer said. When these CEOs make so much money, it hurts the shareholders. We have to be pro-shareholder. The president has become pro-shareholder.
How It All Began Santelli, Cramer and Haines Speak Out Against Liberal Policies
It all started with CNBCs Rick Santellis call for a traders revolt from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on CNBCs Squawk Box Feb. 19. Santelli, along with several traders, expressed his outrage about President Barack Obamas plan to spread the wealth to people that didnt 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 dont 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.
Santellis floor speech was picked up by the Drudge Report, and then other media outlets took notice. Santelli inspired conservatives to stage tea parties throughout the country to protest the bailout culture in Washington, but he also put the rest of CNBC in the spotlight, painting a target for the left on backs of its on-air talent.
Jim Cramer, the host of Mad Money, was another who showed no fear early on in attacking the proposed policies of Obama. After Obama criticized Wall Streets moneymaking, including compensation, on Jan. 30, saying there would be a time for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses. Nows not that time. And thats a message that I intend to send directly to them. Cramer responded by comparing the president to the first head of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin.
Let me tell you something, we heard Lenin, Cramer said on MSNBCs Feb. 2 Morning Joe. There was a little snippet last week that was, Now is not the time for profits. Look - in Lenins book, What Is to Be Done? is simple text of what I always thought was for the communists, it was remarkable to hear very similar language from What Is to Be Done? which is we have no place for profits.
A little over a month later, Cramer declared Obama was causing the greatest destruction of wealth I have ever seen by a president on NBCs March 3 Today. That garnered a response from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and even more attention when a feud between him and Comedy Centrals Jon Stewart developed after Cramers colleague Santelli canceled an appearance on the network.
The third so-called indiscretion came from CNBC Squawk on the Street co-host Mark Haines. Haines, a long-time outspoken personality of the network, took on a couple of Democratic congressmen, Reps. Brad Sherman, Calif., and Charles Rangel, N.Y., for being advocates of a 90-percent retroactive tax on bonuses. For his trouble, Haines found himself the subject of a main headline on the Huffington Post on March 23, for being concerned about some of the populist rhetoric promoting compensation limits.
However, forgotten in the criticism of Haines was his treatment of talk show host and conservative icon Rush Limbaugh on Jan. 29 on CNBCs Squawk on the Street. Just has he had challenged Sherman and Rangel on the tax issue, Haines challenged Limbaugh on the notion that the radio star was acting in a bipartisan manner, as he claimed in his Jan. 29 Wall Street Journal op-ed.
The Left Strikes Back: Inspired by Stewart, Attack Machine Shifts into High Gear
If there were ever any question who Jon Stewart speaks for, they were cleared up after the climax of the Jim Cramer/Jon Stewart feud the Mad Money hosts appearance on Comedy Centrals March 12 Daily Show.
Cramer walked away from the appearance like a scolded dog after Stewart accused CNBCs business coverage in the lead up to the collapse of the economy as disingenuous at best and criminal at worst.
That emboldened liberal advocacy groups to start a counter-tea party movement against the network, and CNBC received even more scrutiny from the left-wing storefronts.
Jon Stewart made the case. Now were demanding action, said a Web site called FixCNBC.com, established by the left-wing Campaign for Americas Future. The site seeks to hold CNBC accountable and was just reserved on March 13, according to Register.com.
When The Daily Shows Jon Stewart grilled CNBC's Jim Cramer last week, he did what few others in the traditional media were willing to do: Expose CNBC's strategy of climbing in bed with the CEOs who created this financial crisis, instead of aggressively reporting on them, an e-mail from Bill Scher, the online campaign manager for CAF said promoting the site. But one decent interview is not enough to ferret the truth out of those now clamoring for taxpayer bailout money.
And especially hard on the network had was the popular liberal blog, the Huffington Post. Various bloggers for the Huffington Post were sharply critical of Santelli, while championing his critics including, Today host Matt Lauer and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
The same treatment was true with aforementioned Squawk on the Street co-host Mark Haines and Mad Money host Jim Cramer, although the Huffington Post did note when Cramer changed his tune about Obama.
All this led up to the concessions by CNBC the hiring of Dean, the invitation to Huffington and Cramers distinct tone adjustment.
Although CNBC caters to a very small albeit affluent niche audience, the network has proven to be very profitable for NBC Universal, especially in a time when the economy is the front-and-center issue.
On Fox News Channel's March 27 "The O'Reilly Factor," host Bill OReilly and Bernard Goldberg, author of "A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media" remarked on the networks efforts to appease its liberal critics.
"The latest target is CNBC analysts Mark Haines, OReilly said. He's there on the left. He follows Jim Cramer and Rick Santelli, who were both savaged by the far left. In fact, MoveOn has forced NBC President Jeff Zucker to hire Howard Dean as a CNBC analyst, Dr. Dean of course knowing little about economics."
O'Reilly also criticized the management of General Electric (NYSE:GE) for allowing the media coverage on MSNBC and CNBC to evolve ideologically to the left.
"Now many on Wall Street believe Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric which owns NBC, has completely lost control of his company, including the actions of Mr. Zucker," O'Reilly added. "The evidence of that is that MSNBC is supporting and promoting the same far-left loons that are hammering the sister outfit CNBC. I mean, how rich is this?"
Goldberg, was not overly critical of CNBC's decision to push left, but did think that was the goal of the left-wing attack machine.
Goldberg suggested this might backfire if the financial network follows the path of MSNBC, which is traditionally third behind Fox News and CNN in the primetime cable news ratings.
"Let me tell you something about CNBC - they have a small audience, but they make a ton of money," Goldberg explained. "And the reason they make a ton of money is because the people who watch CNBC earn a lot of money. I don't think they're going to let a bunch of band of left wingers kill the goose that's laying the golden egg. I don't think so."
what did you think would happen?? of course they have to give in. they like having working knee’s.
And they can watch their ratings circle the drain like MSNBC.
Disgusting. Just disgusting.
For a while CNBC was really hacking out the truth..but they have been reigned in. I watch daily while watching the market. Now, they pass up no chance to find something positive in everything. Plus the libs seem to be taunting the past critics.
I can’t get Fox business on our cable here.
I wonder where Dylan Ratigan will end up.
Three words: Fox Business News!
This just means we really need to push for Dish and Direct to put fox business channel in the lower end line up of the tv pool.
So much crap going on at NBC. It has to be calculated and company policy coming from the top.
That's mighty good. I won't be in any danger of accidentally stumbling over Arianna, perish the thught.
Don't know what channel CNBC occupies. None that I normally scan through. Ain't gonna go looking for it.
Saw the witch from the west on CNBC when I turned on the tv the other morning and promptly flipped over to Fox Business...
Watchers should just turn off all the NBC outlets and see FoxFinancial or Bloomberg. The heck with any of NBC bias. In fact, Fox should make ads telling any NBC watchers who want real fiscal news, to turn off CNBC et al, and come on over. CNN is almost dead so why not nail the NBC flackers?