Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Richard Cohen: Clueless to the Nth degree

Richard Cohen doesn't like Jon Stewart's legendary dumping on Jim Cramer.

In a Washington Post article, he writes:
What Jon Stewart needs is Jon Stewart. He 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.

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?
What a pile of bunk(o).

ODM (for eedjits like Cohen, that's "owners, directors, and managers") are compelled to file prospective stock trades well in advance of the transaction date. They can't just bail when the thing's tanking (that's what we might suspect is "insider trading", with a real stiff ticket for violations).

Plus, their stock transactions must be publicly reported ... and when the ODMs are going to sell, you can rest assured that every one else will take notice. And if there's a massive sell by them, everyone else will probably run for the hills as well, so that the stock is assured of tanking. So of course, they wouldn't sell even if they could, if they think they can just keep up <*cough-cough*> "cinfidence" and keep the Ponzi scheme going a bit longer....

Plus, such a sell might well be seen as an admission of guilt. Which may be just as painful.

Cohen admits he's wrong:
Trouble was, Cramer almost instantly sank into a classic case of Stockholm syndrome, agreeing much of the time with his captor. He came with sleeves rolled up but with the droopy eyes of a chastised puppy.
No, not Stockholm syndrome. Cramer, unlike the AIG top dogs, does have a slight sense of shame. He admitted that Stewart was right.

Cohen finishes with:
Stewart plays a valuable role. He mocks authority, which is good, and he mocks those, such as the media, who take the word of authority as if, well, it's authoritative. But given the outsize reception to his cheap shot at business media, he ought to turn his wit inward: Mocker, mock thyself.
Uh-oh. Cohen hasn't learned a thing from this. Stewart didn't jump on Cramer initially; the initial tiff was with Rick Santelli. Then Cramer jumped into the fray ... and got pasted (even though Stewart, in fairness, allowed that his beef wasn't just with Cramer -- "this song isn't about you" -- but rather with CNBC and the rest of the snake oil salesmen as a whole). Now Cohen seems to be begging for Stewart's attention. Hmmmm...... Stay tuned. ;-)



At 4:53 PM, Blogger mattski said...

The only serious criticism of the corporate owned financial media occurs on a comedy show. That's a little more than Cohen can take.


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