CNBC is the Fox News of financial journalism in that few consider them to be journalists. The financial press in general has a reputation for being courtiers for Wall Street in hopes of finding a job or spouse in the halls of money. But CNBC fails to even offer the patina of journalistic pretense most of the finance press displays. They are, quite clearly, hacks posing as journalists.
This isn’t news to the public who got acquainted with CNBC’s less than admirable news programming with Jim Cramer’s appearance on The Daily Show where host Jon Stewart displayed multiple clips of Cramer not only contradicting some of his stated moral values but openly encouraging and bragging about illegal market manipulation activities such as using the news media to help short a stock. During the interview Stewart also noted CNBC’s claims of expertise while actually “cheerleading” the Wall Street banks.
That cheerleading was on full display when a discussion arose over whether or not Jamie Dimon should stay on as CEO after JPMorgan was set to face massive fines for illegal conduct. In an interview with Salon writer Alex Pareene resident Wall Street mouthpiece Maria Bartiromo was incredulous at Pareene’s suggestion that JP Morgan was corrupt. First Bartiromo demanded examples of JPMorgan’s corruption, then when provided with said examples Bartiromo not only refused to accept the evidence but accused Pareene of being irresponsible even mocking the reference Pareene made to published articles “Ohhhh the New York Times, OK!” Bartiromo then claimed the bad PR that JPMorgan was getting was part of a “witch hunt” despite the fact that JPMorgan has plead guilty to multiple violations including the London Whale debacle.
Even other financial journalists appeared disgusted by CNBC’s naked shilling of JPM. Reuters blogger Felix Salmon was decidedly irritated by the performance.
This view — that profits cleanse all sins, and that so long as you’re making money, nothing else matters — is not normally expressed quite as explicitly as it was here. After all, there are licit and illicit ways of making money, and surely if your profits fall into the latter category, you should not be able to remain comfortably ensconced as a celebrated captain of industry. Besides, banks shouldn’t be obscenely profitable: they’re intermediaries, and in an efficient economy their profits should be quite easily competed away. When bank profits are high, that’s a sign that the bank in question is extracting rents from the economy, rather than helping it to grow.
The rest of the interview is a glorious exercise in watching CNBC anchors simply implode in disbelief when faced with the idea that JP Morgan in general, and Jamie Dimon in particular, might be anything other than a glorious icon of capitalist success. In the world of CNBC, the stock chart tells you everything you need to know, while the New York Times is a highly untrustworthy organ of dissent and disinformation.
Salmon actually seemed to miss one of the truly amazing moments in the interview. Towards the end Bartiromo makes a phenomenally asinine claim. She says, somehow non-ironically, that JPMorgan was one the banks that “alleviated things during the 2008 crisis.” No, I’m not kidding. Someone that presumably has firing neurons in their brain said this out loud. A person who should absolutely know better placed JPMorgan in the role of hero during the financial crisis. Live, on TV. What a country.
Pareene countered with one of those fact things again. Like JPMorgan, far from “alleviating” the 2008 financial crisis, actually helped cause it. Something JPMorgan was already under investigation for when Bartiromo made her surreal statement as a “journalist” on CNBC. Bartiromo then contradicted Pareene and claimed he was wrong, holding the JPM line.
Doesn’t JPMorgan already have a PR department? Can CNBC really be called a news organization after this?