From the December 8 edition of CNBC's Squawk on the Street:
Loading the player reg...
In a promo for the upcoming "Your Money, Your Vote" Republican debate on CNBC that aired on today's edition of Squawk On The Street, a voiceover asks, "How will candidates end the war on wealth?" During the voiceover the ad shows images of the Occupy Wall Street protests:
By framing the debate this way and adopting conservative rhetoric on income inequality, CNBC seems to be running counter to president and CEO Mark Hoffman's promise that "CNBC will deliver a substantive and stimulating dialogue that challenges the candidates and provides the answers voters deserve."
Previously, CNBC's Rick Santelli claimed that traders on Chicago's Mercantile Exchange were "the silent majority," while CNBC host Jim Cramer claimed that President Obama was "taking cues from Lenin."
During an interview with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, CNBC's Maria Bartiromo whitewashed Boeing's alleged discrimination against union workers and suggested that the National Labor Relations Board should not intervene when companies violate the law to intimidate union workers. Right-wing media have repeatedly distorted the facts about NLRB's complaint against Boeing, including wrongly asserting that the NLRB brought suit against Boeing "because the jobs are non-union."
Today, the Department of Justice's Inspector General officially retracted its allegation that at a 2009 conference, the DOJ had paid $4,200 for 250 muffins -- or, more than $16 per muffin. From the IG's statement:
After publication of the report, we received additional documents and information concerning the food and beverage costs at the EOIR conference. After further review of the newly provided documentation and information, and after discussions with the Capital Hilton and the Department, we determined that our initial conclusions concerning the itemized costs of refreshments at the EOIR conference were incorrect and that the Department did not pay $16 per muffin. We have therefore revised the report based on these additional documents and deleted references to any incorrect costs. We regret the error in our original report.
Earlier this week, Media Matters released a report detailing media coverage of the story on network news, cable news, and print. We discovered that while many outlets reported the initial $16 claim from the IG, few followed up when the figure was disputed by Hilton. Key findings from the report:
As we explained, the media's irresponsible coverage of "muffin-gate" reinforced the common conservative narrative of wasteful government spending. We'll be watching to see whether news outlets that pushed the IG's initial allegation inform their audiences that the $16-muffin claim has now been officially debunked.
When the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General published a September 2011 audit of conference expenses, the media focused on one finding in particular: the claim that the Justice Department had once paid $4,200 for 250 muffins at a conference in Washington -- or more than $16 per muffin. And as dubbed by ABC's Erica Hill, CBS, and Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, "Muffin-gate" was born, reinforcing a common conservative narrative of wasteful government spending. As O'Reilly himself said on September 21: "But the $16 muffin now becomes a symbol of how wasteful the feds are with our tax dollars."
Within days, Hilton Worldwide, which hosted the 2009 conference in question, disputed the claim: "In Washington, the contracted breakfast included fresh fruit, coffee, juice, muffins, tax and gratuity for an inclusive price of $16 per person." And within a week of that, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that the DOJ claimed "the actual price was $14.29 per person per day," and that "included breakfast and rental fees for the workshop space and conference rooms." Furthermore, Bloomberg reported that the IG's office subsequently "conceded that it might not have been in possession of all the facts." The IG's office told the magazine: "Since our report was issued, the Capital Hilton has stated that other food and beverage items, such as coffee, tea, and fruit, were included in the charged amount." The IG's link for the report now only states:
In September 2011, the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General issued audit report number 11-43, Audit of Department of Justice Conference Planning and Food and Beverage Costs. After our report was issued, the Office of the Inspector General received additional documents concerning the food and beverage costs at one conference that had not previously been provided during the audit. We have reviewed these documents and will issue a revised report in the near future.
Sam Stein of The Huffington Post investigated print coverage of the story and concluded that only 37 of the 223 articles that pushed the $16-muffin myth "offered an explanation for the cost of the muffins or attempted to correct the record." He added that Bill O'Reilly continued to push the falsehood (and even took credit for breaking the story) during a September 28 appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart -- after Hilton disputed the $16-muffin claim.
Media Matters reviewed the transcripts of broadcast and cable news and the articles of the top five national newspapers for coverage of this story. Contrary to the fervor with which the media reported the initial claim from the IG, few outlets followed up with the updates from Hilton or the IG's office, leaving their audiences in the dark about the truth of the $16 muffin.
The Wall Street Journal has not decided if it will form a partnership with Fox Business similar to the newspaper's current arrangement with CNBC when that deal ends next year, the Journal's top editor tells Media Matters.
"We haven't decided anything on it," Journal managing editor Robert Thomson said during a brief interview last week. Asked directly if a deal similar to the CNBC arrangement would be of interest to the Journal, he said, "not necessarily."
Since News Corp. purchased Dow Jones in late 2007, speculation has arisen among its employees that the Journal would align itself with Fox Business once the Journal's current agreement for many of its reporters and content to appear first on CNBC ends in December 2012.
A Journal spokesperson declined this week to reveal details of the CNBC arrangement, first forged in 1998, other than to say it ends in December 2012. She stated in an email:
We don't publicly discuss the nature of agreements.
But a source familiar with the agreement who requested anonymity said it includes a content-sharing arrangement in which CNBC receives advanced access to certain financial-related original reporting and data from all Dow Jones business outlets so that CNBC can report it simultaneously.
CNBC also pays a fee to Dow Jones for the content based on ad revenue, according to the source, who said it has averaged some $15 million annually in recent years.
In addition, CNBC has the right of first refusal to have Journal reporters appear on its network to discuss business news before appearing on other networks, including on Fox Business.
When asked if the Journal would forge a similar deal with Fox Business once the CNBC arrangement ends, Thomson said:
"Not necessarily. Because, in part, you look at what's happening with WSJ Live and the amount of video we are doing ourselves. The possible permutations are far more than that presumption allows."
Asked if there could be an outcome where the Journal is not aligned with Fox Business as it has been with CNBC, Thomson again left the door open.
Former Fox Business executive producer Terry Baker contends he was fired last fall in part because of his objections to controversial host Eric Bolling, whom calls a "fame whore" and someone who could damage the network.
"I think he's a complete loose cannon and his only desire is to be a star," said Baker, who last week signed on with Current TV as executive vice president of production. "He just says stuff to be inflammatory and I don't believe that he has any real knowledge of any of it. He's just saying whatever he can say to get attention."
Bolling is among the regulars on Fox News' The Five, the roundtable show that replaced Glenn Beck's program in July.
On both networks, Bolling has gained a reputation for controversial comments. Just last week, he said that the American hikers recently released from Iran were spies and that Iran "should have kept them." This spring, Bolling used his Fox Business show to push conspiracy theories about President Obama's birth certificate. He has also made a series of racially charged comments, for example teasing a segment about Obama hosting the president of Gabon by saying: "Guess who's coming to dinner? A dictator. Mr. Obama shares a laugh with one of Africa's kleptocrats. It's not the first time he's had a hoodlum in the hizzouse."
"My belief when I was there was that at some point he's going to harm the network because he doesn't care about what he says," Baker, 55, added about Bolling. "He would happily be called names by the rest of the world if that got him hits on the Internet; he's a complete fame whore."
In a lengthy interview with Media Matters, Baker, who spent three years at Fox Business, said his concerns about Bolling were often ignored by higher-level executives.
Baker also weighed in on the future of Fox Business, predicting it will likely seek a closer link to The Wall Street Journal when the Journal's arrangement with CNBC ends in 2012. But he speculated that closer ties could cause friction inside the Journal newsroom.
He also said Fox News' image as a conservative outlet made it difficult to book many liberal or Democratic guests on Fox Business. Baker described being fired by Ailes as a "badge of honor."
CNBC has reportedly withdrawn the program World Business from its weekend schedule over allegations that the show was used as a public relations vehicle for members of the Malaysian government without disclosure. A blog reported that the production company behind World Business (FBC Media) had a contract with a Malaysian politician to improve his image using reports on World Business.
"In light of serious questions raised last week, CNBC immediately initiated [sic] an examination of FBC and its business practices and has withdrawn the program 'World Business' indefinitely," Brian Steel, senior vice president of media relations at CNBC, told POLITICO.
According to Politico, World Business did not air in the United States this past weekend, but did air on CNBC Europe and CNBC Asia.
CNBC's website describes World Business:
On "World Business," Managing Editor John Defterios and our team of international correspondents cover every corner of the globe, tracking the business trends that are going to affect you.
From the July 18 edition of CNBC's Squawk Box:
Loading the player reg...
Media Matters analyzed television news guests who discussed the Environmental Protection Agency's role in regulating greenhouse gas emissions from December 2009 through April 2011. Driven largely by Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, results show that in 76 percent of those appearances, the guest was opposed to EPA regulations while 18 percent were in favor. Of the appearances by elected officials, 86 percent were Republican. Only one guest in 17 months of coverage across nine news outlets was a climate scientist -- industry-funded Patrick Michaels.
Featured in a sympathetic profile in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine, CNBC host Jim Cramer reminisces about the rhetorical beat-down he took at the hands of Jon Stewart when the two famously clashed on The Daily Show back in March of 2009. (Well, Stewart clashed. Cramer just kind of sat there and took it.)
From the Times piece [emphasis added]:
Cramer was especially incensed by what he saw as the political unfairness behind Stewart's attack. "They wanted to make me the Face of the Era, and they succeeded. Rick Santelli's a conservative. Ideological. O.K., I get that. But me? I was very anti-Bush. I'm a Democrat, I've got the canceled checks to prove it, and suddenly I'm the enemy? Me? Me?"
Today, Cramer can't figure out why he ever became the target of liberal wrath like the kind he faced from Stewart. After all, Cramer's a Democrat.
Regardless of his party affiliation, the fact is that just weeks into President Obama's first term, Cramer took to the airwaves to denounce the new president as a possible communist and warned investors that Obama and his Democratic administration were destroying wealth in America.
So maybe that's why Cramer became an appealing target of the left.
And don't believe me about Cramer's wildly irresponsible rhetoric in 2009? As Media Matters detailed at the time, Cramer repeatedly characterized Obama and Democrats as Russian communists, claiming Obama was "taking cues from Lenin." Cramer also used terms such as "Bolshevik," "Marx," "comrades," "Soviet," "Winter Palace," and "Politburo" to describe Democrats.
It was Cramer who appeared on NBC's Today and attacked Obama's "radical agenda" and claimed it was "the most, greatest wealth destruction I've seen by a president." He also claimed that under Obama, "no stocks can be considered truly free from danger" and warned viewers to "Obama-proof that portfolio -- like bomb-proof."
CNBC news anchor Melissa Francis announced she wouldn't vote for Obama's stimulus package. Host Joe Kernen mocked Obama as having been "hijacked by those -- the crazy -- by [Nancy] Pelosi, by [Harry] Reid" and described Obama's budget as "far left." During the same segment, reporter Carl Quintanilla said of Obama's budget, "There is some social engineering going on." Kernen also falsely claimed that Obama had promised to eliminate earmarks.
Basically, in early 2009, CNBC, as an all-business news organization, lost its collective mind and after eight years of mostly sleep-walking through the Bush years, awoke from its slumber to declare it was Democrats who had trashed the economy and Democrats who were ruining your investments.
That's the programming call CNBC made then. But looking back, Cramer can't understand why a liberal like Stewart was so mean to him on TV.
Ann Coulter's choice for president is back.
CNBC's Rick Santelli commented on his eighteen-month-old Chicago trading floor rant yesterday on the network's Squawk Box saying, "the Tea Party movement is moving along. It's pretty cool after a year and a half."
Remember, this comes from a guy who thought traders represented "the silent majority."
I happen to agree with CNBC's Steve Liesman though who told Santelli in March that he was "wrong on about everything."
Take a look at this flashback:
The Daily Beast has an excerpt from Randall Lane's new book, The Zeroes, which claims CNBC host Jim Cramer's protégé and former pro-baseball player Lenny Dykstra "was secretly paid to plug stocks on" the Cramer co-founded website "TheStreet.com and give access to Cramer."
In an era of epically wrong financial predictions, boisterous Jim Cramer's declaration that "Bear Stearns is not in trouble!" a week before its March 2008 collapse, rated among the most moronic, or at least the most infamous.
But it turns out that Cramer made one call far worse: He decided to make a stock-picking star out of a mumbling former Major League Baseball All-Star named Lenny Dykstra, giving him a high-profile column and ultimately an expensive "premium" newsletter on Cramer's site TheStreet.com. How did Dykstra return the favor? As I reveal in my book, The Zeroes: My Misadventures in the Decade Wall Street Went Insane, Dykstra took money --$250,000 worth of secretly issued stock -- in exchange for recommending that stock to TheStreet.com subscribers. He also promised access to Cramer in exchange for the stock, which he apparently hid under his brother-in-law's name.
It was Cramer's repeated endorsements -- echoed by de facto validation from everyone from CNBC to me -- that enabled Dykstra to pull off the scheme.
Jim Cramer single-handedly created the concept of Dykstra-as-financial genius. Known mostly for his willingness to crash his body into walls or his cars into trees (nickname: "Nails"), the former New York Met and Philadelphia Phillie became an investment columnist for TheStreet.com in 2005, after sending Cramer an unsolicited email. For the next four years, Dykstra made stock picks, focusing on "deep-in-the-money calls"—a way to buy leveraged options—for tens of thousands of followers on Cramer's website.
The excerpt does note that there is no indication that Cramer had any knowledge of the payments to Dykstra:
Cramer, I am sure, had no knowledge of Dykstra's "pay to plug" scheme—an arrangement that could well lead to a Securities & Exchange Commission investigation. He was just a dupe. But his relentless endorsements and promotion of the ballplayer's stock-picking over the years must now surely rank as his most ill-conceived.
In March, I noted that the SEC was investigating TheStreet.com.
From the June 11 edition of CNBC's Squawk Box:
Loading the player reg...
Just over a year ago, CNBC's Jim Cramer found himself in hot water with Jon Stewart. The host of Comedy Central's Daily Show was relentless, running segments targeting the high-strung CNBC host, the most notable of which was titled "In Cramer We Trust" and addressed Cramer's pushing of Bear Stearns just days and weeks before it collapsed:
In the days that followed, Cramer would take to CNBC sister networks for defense from Stewart, prompting this response from the comedian:
The whole ordeal led to Cramer appearing on Stewart's show for an extensive interview where the money talker made a "deal" to "start getting back to the fundamentals of reporting." Cramer also agreed with Stewart that he was a "snake oil" salesman.
Ultimately, Cramer walked back much of the ground he conceded in the interview later calling Stewart's criticism of CNBC "naïve and misleading."
Well, Cramer has landed himself back on the Daily Show, this time for his comments surrounding Goldman Sachs before news broke of the SEC charging the bank with fraud:
Now that Stewart and Stephen Colbert (host of the Colbert Report) have extended their contracts with Comedy Central through 2012, Cramer has some time to live up to his previous commitment to get "back to the fundamentals of reporting." Otherwise, this latest Daily Show segment is only the latest in what will surely be a lot more to come.