Why is Barron’s Banned From CNBC?

I give Barron’s grief whenever I think a columnist or magazine cover is wrong.

But even when some thing rubs me the wrong way, the rest of the magazine is usually filled with worthwhile content: Mike Santoli’s Streetwise, Randall Forsyth’s, credit writings, Michael Kahn’s Technician, The Trader Column, the various interviews, and of course, Alan Abelson. It has been a fixture of my weekend for as long as I have been in the business. I was thrilled to publish there last month.

If it wasn’t important, it wouldn’t be worth criticizing.

One of the things I enjoy has been the Monday morning CNBC segment called "The Barron’s Bounce," usually with Michael Santoli. It dawned on me that I hadn’t seen Mike on in sometime, so I started poking around. I was surprised to read via Gawker that ever since the Barron’s cover story looking into Jim Cramer’s track record (Shorting Cramer) in 2007, all Barron’s staffers have been unofficially banned from CNBC.

This decision serves neither CNBC nor its viewers. Legitimate analysis and criticism into anyone’s track record is encouraged. When I screw up — and I do, all too regularly — I expect to hear about it from readers. If Cramer’s nightly stock picks are under-performing, well, that is fair game for any critique.

Let me break ranks for a moment and say something nice about Jim Cramer’s show: The most positive aspect of it has been to teach many of the newbies who watch it some basic money management techniques. I’ve heard Jim discuss diversification, stop losses, the dangers of naked put writing, and other, rarely discussed issues. Yes, I have a hard time with the cult of personality that has evolved around the show, and some of the goofier aspects of the broadcast, but I am not the intended demographic of Mad Money. 

The bottom line is that there is a lot more to the show than Cramer’s picks. Besides, he is on 5 hours a week, and answers dozens a questions on 100s of stocks. No one can throw out that many responses to  that many trading ideas and perform any better than any large mutual fund.That’s just the math of discussing that many names.

I would urge CNBC to reconsider this Barron’s ban. If you don’t find the Barron’ content worthwhile, well that’s fine. But to respond to criticism in such a heavy handed way makes the network look thin skinned and petty.

Viewers deserve the best guests and viewpoints a network can wrestle up. I cannot see how this serves anyone’s interests — the viewers, Barron’s or CNBCs.

This is just one man’s opinion . . .

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UPDATE : October 20, 2008 10:09 am

I wrote this piece last night, after emailing a few Barron’s staffers last week. I saw the NYT piece on the train in this morn, after my piece had posted.

Here is the link tot he Times:

Jim Cramer Retreats Along With the Dow
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/20/business/media/20carr.html

Note that the headline references Cramer’s mannerisms, not the ratings –w hich are up substantially.

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Previously:
Boo-yah! Barron’s is Shorting Cramer
http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2007/08/boo-yah-barrons.html

A Memo Found in the Street (September 27, 2008)   
http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2008/09/uncle-sam-the-e.html

Sources:

Jim Cramer, Untouchable
http://gawker.com/357174/jim-cramer-untouchable

Shorting Cramer
BILL ALPERT
BARRON’S COVER  AUGUST 20, 2007
http://online.barrons.com/article/SB118681265755995100.html

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