On Rukeyser, Financial TV, and CNBC

A smart observer of Business Television writes:

The answer to the question was buried in the comment on Rukeyser comment on #9.

Louis was by all accounts a genuinely snarling ass of a person but he had an informative show. The two were inextricably linked. Louis didn’t suffer fools, a population he defined as “everyone execpt Louis Freaking Rukeyser”. The upside was that those who came onto his show unprepared were gutted and left for dead without a second thought.

That intolerance whether in defense of viewers or simply for the sake of the host has been replaced by a network that accepted at face value when Frederick Henderson, the CEO of General Motors, pronounced himself “delighted” by the hike in CAFÉ standards. The move both killed what was left of GM as a public company, if also clearly signaled that GM’s stock going to zero was a certainty.

His views were accepted at face value because he was good television in a greasy way. Fritz is a good “get” and a major sponsor of the network. He could have been discussing his equally probable alien adduction and it would have been accepted at face value. Had the network been looking out for their actual customers they would have cried a hearty “Bunk!”. Never happened. What did happen was GM went from about a buck to $2.24 in a week. Going out on a reckless limb, it wasn’t smart money buying GM equity up 125% and headed for zero in 10 days.

Bank analysts are equally without value. Dick Bove had a strong buy on Lehman sell than a month prior to LEH being dead. If you can’t calculate the pice of capital for a bank you can’t put a “fundamental” valuation on that stock. That fact more or less eliminates every bank analyst claiming anything in the neighborhood of “fundamental analysis”.

As for the Cramer show, he’s a smart man on a show picking scores of stocks every day. It takes him roughly a month and a half to go through the S&P 500, generally with a positive bias. He not only doesn’t dwell on mistakes, he doesn’t discuss them at all.

The “yell at each other” shows are manufactured. Fast Money’s cast has been culled to eliminate the people who wouldn’t let themselves be yelled at by anyone or anyone who refused to play ball GE style. It would seem that the show will soon be Melissa Lee hosting Pete Najarian, the insufferable Tim Seymour who insists on the last word of every topic, regardless of what, if anything, he knows about it and an assortment of guido-types who will play ball and would gleefully knife anyone on the desk to have the last word or “witty” insight. They give no credit to the positive picks. None. The production goal is rotating slabs of meat as the trading staff. Since CNBC execs know literally nothing about finance they mistake yelling and BS for brains.

What would a better show be?

One with a strong, central host demanding “a point” from every guest or desk temp.
A show with the guts to call out the scams booked on the show to announce they still like GM.

… And guests who claim to have gone bullish at the bottom with no proof of having done so.
… A show run by a real former trader, there to make good TV and with the soul goal of making that happen.
… A show with respect for everyone but deference for no one

Soft guest would carp at management and “never come on this show again”. But good guest; analysts who actually had a “buy or sell” to couple their BS. CEOs who had a story that made sense under scrutiny. Would be praised. Appropriately so because the muzzled geldings dominating the airwaves today don’t even deserve the airtime.

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