The politicalization of the WSJ has moved to a new and more risky phase. The paper is now in danger of being a money loser — not for its investors (tho that has already happened), but for those traders who read its content.

It used to be that articles on the Market or specific companies or various finance stories were objective and reliable and free from bias. Sure, you could always count on money losing, bat-shit crazy nonsense in the editorial pages, but that was a special area of sequestered partisans, who due to their insanity cared not a whit about how much capital their lunatic ravings lost their readers. (The list is long and varied, but the Boskin “Obama Crash” on March 6th is a good place to start; then read anything Don Luskin writes — he is a reliable contrary indicator).

I assumed the drunks on the OpEd page did not care about what they did to your portfolio if you drank their Kool-Aid. But they were easy to steer clear of  — you simply avoided that page, or read it and laughed. Smart investors could easily say “Go sell crazy somewhere else –we ain’t buying.” That was possible because you knew that the business pages were sacrosanct, always run with a steel-eyed objectivity that professionals could rely upon.

That is no longer the case. The lunatics now run the asylum, and henceforth, I am moving the WSJ into the column of “Stuff to read, but not take very seriously.”

I am bereft over this. This is a major change for me, for I have loved this paper for years, even decades. I read the Times (along with many other papers), but as someone who works in finance, I marveled at the quality and breadth of the business reportage at the Journal. Accuracy was paramount, political bias limited to the cartoon (Opinion) pages. For a long time, it was the best paper in America.

Those days are now ending.

I keep seeing headlines that are blatantly political, articles that looked to be edited by a ham-fisted politburo apparatchiks, other signs that the usual outstanding journalism at the WSJ is under assault. When I read David Carr’s NYT article, I hoped he was referring only to the DC coverage, and not Wall Street, Markets, or anything that investors rely on.

Sigh. If only that was the case.

Regular readers know that I despise political parties, believe partisans suffer brain damage — literally — they have the same cognitive deficits that ardent sports fans suffer from. I have trashed both Bush and Obama, but moved to a bullish posture when despite either’s incompetence, they accidentally did something that caused a bullish set of factors to predominate. Independence matters; Politics and investing are a fatal combination to performance.

My bottom line for content is performance — if I can rely on something to provide me insight and information, it becomes a steady part of the media diet. Once I suspect they are no longer capable of that simple investor service, they go on a short leash. Eventually, they reveal themselves as money makers or money losers, and today, the WSJ crossed that line. They are now money losers to those who read them.

Quite a difference a few years make.

A specific article that led to this sad conclusion? The most egregious example (of many) I noticed was this front page headline: New Bank Rules Sink Stocks.  This is the sort of silly headline I expect from lesser media outlets, not the Journal. Without getting too philosophical, we know that day-to-day action is mostly nonsense. Selecting a causal factor from the cacophony of news releases, earnings, price data is all but impossible.  There is a whole lot of noise, and very little signal. Assigning a definitive causative factor is at best a guessing game, at worst an exercise in futility.

>

WSJ.com January 22, 2010

For example, I cannot tell you why we were down 100 on Friday, up 115 on Tuesday (supposedly on the Brown victory) down more than 100 on Wednesday (on the Brown victory as well?), then down more than 200 yesterday. Perhaps a 68% gain in 10 months had something to do with it. Or perhaps the fact that despite a major rally, the finance sector has made no upwards progress for 6 months. Or the dollar was rallying.

But it doesn’t take much looking to see other, more plausible, less politically motivated explanations than the floated Volcker/Obama proposal. The market’s biggest losers were not finance related issues, but rather were commodity-related stocks.

While the financial sector suffered a 3% decline after some disappointing earnings from various banks, it was the commodities sector that got whacked 4.3%. China, the driver of much of recent economic improvements,  made a major announcement they were restricting bank lending to cool inflation and slow the economy.

I noticed this and pointed to a China article in Reads; Tom Petruno at the LA Times pointed out the relationship between the change in China policy to the Commodity sector, and how substantial those losses were.

The WSJ article? Never so much as mentioned China or commodities.

Hence, I must now move the Journal out of my column of “Essential investor reads,” and into the column marked “Infotainment.” Under Murdoch, the paper has become politicized to the point of losing a significant portion of its value.

Investors beware.

>

S&P Financial Sector

>

Previously:
Murdoch’s WSJ Changes Creates Opening for NYT, FT (April 24th, 2008)
http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2008/04/murdochs-wsj-changes-creates-opening-for-nyt-ft/

Sources:
New Bank Rules Sink Stocks
JONATHAN WEISMAN, DAMIAN PALETTA And ROBIN SIDEL
WSJ, JANUARY 21, 2010
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703699204575016983630045768.html

Dow goes negative for 2010 as sellers swarm
Tom Petruno
January 21, 2010 | 2:23 pm
http://bit.ly/7PecP5

Under Murdoch, Tilting Rightward at The Journal
DAVID CARR
NYT,  December 13, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/14/business/media/14carr.html

Category: Financial Press, Politics, Really, really bad calls

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

93 Responses to “WSJ Jumps the Shark”

  1. YY says:

    You are 100% right BR.

    There is really only one paper to read these days, the Financial Times.

  2. schmoo says:

    Fox News has no credibility, so Murdoch buys the WSJ. He’ll milk that once proud entity to serve as a veneer of respectability to promote his agenda until he destroys the WSJ as well. Then he’ll buy something else.

    apply. lather. rinse. repeat.

  3. I canceled my subscription shortly after Murdoch took over. I get better analysis from blogs like the Big Picture.

  4. Casual Observer says:

    Boo and Yeah…GREAT POST

    If anyone with a brain pays attention to the ridiculous bias of Fox News and has the mendacity to insist on it FAIR & BALANCED approach…surely they would be able to connect the dots once it was revealed that the same ownership would aply the same process to the journal.

    Or better yet, maybe not.

  5. dougc says:

    I restrict my market analysis to sources that are independent; this one ,marc faber and jim rogers. They share at least two things in common, the individuals are not employed and they have been successful investors.

  6. Mike in Nola says:

    Don’t worry. After yesterday’s Supreme Court decision, the nazi’s who control corporationwill be able to run political ads directly and not have to insinuate them into the WSJ.

    I suppose this election cycle we’ll be hearing from Chinese Melamine producers. They have rights, too.

  7. HEHEHE says:

    Finally I agree entirely about something with BR. It’s sad but true. One of the last bastions of unbiased reporting is dying before your eyes. It’s turning into a high brow NY Post.

  8. Forbes says:

    you read the Times yet you are concerned about partisan politics in journalism?

    ~~~

    BR: I read everything, but I read the WSJ for objective information on markets and equities, not bullshit politics.

  9. Dennis says:

    Talk about missing the main point — no wonder, coming from Forbes !

  10. EAR says:

    Thanks for telling it like it is, Barry. As the the MSM landscape continues its transition a balsa wood movie set, people like yourself and sources like TBP become more vital.

    This post immediately reminded me of the disingenuous trash that came out of the mouth of Rep. Scott Garrett last night on PBS Newshour last night. He followed Geithner, and in trying to discredit him and score political points made him look like Honest Abe. Keep in mind, he’s on the House Financial Services Committee!

    “REP. SCOTT GARRETT, R-N.J.: Before I do that, I would just say that was a fascinating interview. I appreciated some of the questions that you posited and the lack of answers on the other side of it.

    And, also, just one other comment. You know, I was thinking, your lead-in to this story talked about the fact that the — the stock market tanked today. You know, when the former Fed chairman was in, Alan Greenspan was in, there was a saying back in those days that you called the “Greenspan put.” Any time the treasury secretary — for the Fed chairman said something, the market saw that as good news and it took off.

    We have just the opposite with this administration. Any time this administration comes out and says something about what they plan to do in the future, the market tanks. And I think — and it tanks not only for Wall Street, but it tanks for the rest of America as well. And I think that’s very telling as to where this administration is going to bring us with Wall Street and the economy as well.”

    In the video he has the air of someone who just finished the last touches on his dalmation coat…

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business/jan-june10/banks2_01-21.html

  11. Chz says:

    The title may be a bit misleading but the focus of the article is on the impact to bank stocks, not the entire market. Good luck keeping politics out of the media in this day and age. I vote with my pocket book and eye balls, I support those that think like me and shun those that don’t, like it or not. You have to compete in this market place and the day you get too lefty for me is the day I stop reading your blog. I keep reading because your criticisms appear to be fair and based on logic and I appreciate that approach. I am a conservative with conservative values and despite the fact that I am very disappointed with the Republican party, and think that Bush was a dumb-ass, I absolutely despise the liberal and progressive agenda / philosophy. Can’t help it. With that said, keep up the fair work… and I say that in fun so don’t get all pissed off.

  12. My primary MSM diet consists of: NYT, Bloomberg,WSJ, Economist, LAT, Barron’s, Observer. London Times, Guardian, Asia Times.

    Secondary sources include Google News, CNN/Money, Fortune, Forbes, Marketwatch, DIGG.

    There are more, but you get the idea.

  13. 32 Feb says:

    BR – you commented that the opinion pages are the cartoon pages. How many years were the editorial pages warning about Fannie/Freddie and Fed policy? Many. I know the Times and Bloomberg were all over it.

    ~~~

    BR: They were philosophically opposed to GSEs, but they warning about the wrong aspects of it — they hated any government implied subsidy, but frequently missed issues such as the lobbying dollars, the accounting fraud. (These were reasons why we were short Fannie Mae before it collapsed)

    And since then, they have incorrectly attempted to blame for the collapse on FNM/FRE, rather than a series of disatrous private sector decisions, Congressional legislation, ultra low rates, Ratings agencies fraud, etc.

  14. “Thanks for telling it like it is, Barry. As the the MSM landscape continues its transition a balsa wood movie set, people like yourself and sources like TBP become more vital.”–EAR, above

    BR,

    as EAR, and others, above, note, let it read: “There’s plenty of Headroom for BRIPTV”..

  15. p.s. just so that you know, TBP has OSTK advertising being served..

    ~~~

    BR: I just saw that, and asked FM to kill the ad. Funny coincidence — its not context based

  16. p.p.s. re: S&P Fin Sector Chart..can we say “distribution” ?

  17. ironman says:

    BR: I think you’re right that the trading of recent days mostly reflects the effects of noise rather than signal. But it occurs to me that there might be a relatively easy way to see if a news event like “Obama’s statement on the banks” really influenced stock prices.

    Looking at the day’s trading activity for the S&P 500, there’s a pretty clear break after 10:20 AM – before that point, the index’s value bounced around the level at which it opened, after that point, it tracked downward rapidly, then flattened out somewhat (on a much less severe downward path.)

    That suggests to me that something changed at 10:20 AM, and the market reacted to incorporate the information. I don’t buy “Obama’s statement on the banks” as an explanation, since the basic news for that story was out before 10:20 AM. Including in the WSJ (who should therefore know better.)

    Digging around other news, I can’t identify anything that correlates with the timing of the market’s decline, mainly due to the lack of timelines given for the day’s events. I wonder if any Big Picture readers might have more insight as to what happened around 10:20 AM on 21 January 2010?

  18. Greg0658 says:

    Mike in NO – I must reprimand the term nazi (a tribe all of their own*) to factually mean f@sism (the blend of singular government offices with corporations)

    and to blend a scene from Sister Act – “if this place turns into a Lobbiest** bar – I’m outta here”

    * we may be allowing singular offices to chase other tribes in similar fashion tho
    ** for pay

  19. Barry,

    This post has a similar theme as yesterday’s “On Financial Advisers Watching TV.” The most consumed sources of information tend to be the noisiest in terms distraction. It would be interesting to see a statistic on the performance of advisers’ managed assets and how the performance correlates to the information sources consumed.

    Most people (except for masterful information junkies such as yourself) should simply reduce information consumption down to a bare minimum.

    Cheers…

    Kent

  20. Moss says:

    The Murdoch model can be understood in reviewing the Fox model. The WSJ is now following that strategy, they are simply feeding their constituents what they want to hear. Not much different than the Rush model, the Olbermann model or any other partisan drivel. It will only get worse with the Supreme Court decision yesterday.

  21. Transor Z says:

    @ironman:

    At 10:20 am EST on 1/21/2010, a butterfly in Brazil flapped its wings, a child in California rubbed her nose, and a sock fell off a clothesline in Bolivia. :-)

  22. manhattanguy says:

    Did you just notice that? It started right after Murdoch bought the papers.

  23. crosey says:

    Anyone watching the networks, CNBC, MSNBC, Bloomberg, or Fox News for the real business story must realize that all you’re getting is the sentiment that is being marketed to a particular demographic. Such are their respective marketing plans. Realize this. Michael Moore does well within his audience, Fox News does very well within their audience. They’re in the politics business, to varying degrees.

    So, stop the vitriol, you’re wasting precious energy and mental cycles. Continue to dig under the surface and find the most accurate and unbiased sources of information. Educate yourself, and then engage in spirited discussions at your local pub, like I do with my friends. It’s AWESOME!

  24. rktbrkr says:

    Sadly, this was bound to happen. The danger is that outlets like WSJ and CNBC pump out so much biased stuff that some seeps into. I tuned out (literally) CNBC months ago and I’m sure my blood pressure has benefitted from it.

  25. davefromcarolina says:

    The WSJ going blooey is old news. What gets me now is that I can’t think of a single true safe haven for unbiased financial news, and that the reason for that can be found in yesterday’s Court decision. Financial advantage and political advantage seem to be morphing into a single, hideous entity.

    ~~~

    BR: Try the FT and Bloomberg.com

  26. StatArb says:

    Tin Foil Hat time

    grassy knoll …… get the wood chipper out and drop the crack pipe

  27. bdg123 says:

    Don Luskin is one of the world’s greatest contrary indicators. It’s a testimony to the monopoly that is our finance industry that he gets a microphone time after time for being one of the most consistently wrong talking heads out there. He was eating all of the home cooking before the market bitch-slapped him.

    The WSJ has always been a source of dubious information. There was a good article on Counterpunch some time ago about the role the WSJ played over the years in killing GM. The Journal is a source of a particular ideology more often than it is fact. But then that is true for most journalism. How many people are truly objective? Even when they are self-aware? It’s better than CNBC by a mile but it’s still a rag that the world could live without.

  28. advsys says:

    I have read the WSJ for almost 2 decades. Ever since Murdock the time needed to read the thing has been halved. The stuff worth reading was declining and even the articles worth reading took less time since there was just less of value in each article. My subscription ran out on Dec 12th last year. I decided not to automatically renew and try an experiment and see if I actually missed it anymore. So far, not enough to want to spend the money.

  29. the bohemian says:

    “Did you just notice that? It started right after Murdoch bought the papers.”

    manhattan dude- sarcasm?

  30. radioman says:

    I’m wondering when the Dow Jones index is going to jump the shark. It would be easy to do. They could start doing the same kind of adjustments the government does with core inflation, unemployment rates, etc.

  31. Renting in Mass says:

    Hear, hear! Well said Barry!

  32. DeDude says:

    The paper is owned by a person who’s main objectives and goals are partisan politics, not news or facts. The surprise is actually that it took them so long. The owner is not known to tolerate that his “news” outlets present the reality that is, rather than the reality his wants to believe in.

  33. the bohemian says:

    when ALL the reporters are pretty blondes- we’ll know the transformation is complete

  34. m111ark says:

    Markets move on perception, not facts. If facts matter at all, and I’m not sure they do, it’s only in the very long term. Corporate “news” is now the norm and with yesterdays ruling, corporations are now free to shape the world as they wish. Considering that the business round table, bilderbergs, cfr, etc. and highly interconnected corporate boards all meet (ya’, its just an orgy of sex, booze and fun at the bohemian grove) to plan the world, what does real news matter any more.

  35. bmoseley says:

    i gave up on WSJ some time ago. why must so much good business reporting be right-wing. i find Barrons a bit much too. What about Financial Times; i’ve recently read some of their articles and liked them

  36. Moss says:

    I was reading a few choice quotes from the latest book by Iaccoca recently.
    Here is a guy who was given the opportunity to turnaround Chrysler by a government bailout and he now comes out and rails against the current administration as if the last 20 years never occurred.

    So this type of pandering is not just MSM.

  37. [...] companies or various finance stories were objective and reliable and free from bias,” he writes in a post that absolutely takes the Journal out behind the woodshed and beats it with a 2×4. [...]

  38. dead hobo says:

    BR lamented:

    A specific article that led to this sad conclusion? The most egregious example (of many) I noticed was this front page headline: New Bank Rules Sink Stocks. This is the sort of silly headline I expect from lesser media outlets, not the Journal.

    reply:
    ————
    Where to begin? Yes, the WSJ has degenerated into a substantial waste of time and subscription money. The editorial pages have gotten so bad that the entire second 1/2 of section 1 is unreadable and lacks all credibility. Even if something of value gets printed accidentally, it immediately loses credibility and I always ignore it. The news part of section 1 has been watered down and is not what I want or need. The markets section is little more than a form of gossip page. The internet provides that in abundance for free.

    My sub ran out last year and I toss out the reminders.

    That being said, they got the headline right.

    Yes, China’s possible tightening is important but that alone would not make a difference. The stock markets today are a fact free zone and all that is important is the next bit of hype to power stocks up for another day. The focus is to keep the rubes invested and earn account management fees. The sell side is stronger than ever and everyone talks their book. Everyone. (even me, I want to see a low and well valued buy in point, not a scammer’s hyped up high.)

    The real impact is that Obama is threatening to withdraw the punch bowl and is being taken seriously for now. Most of the run up has been powered by free money that was substantially made available to the same banks running prop desks. This has been the fuel powering the rise. On the margin, the free money plus flash orders plus HFT are a gift. Without access to free money for trading purposes and the likely lack of new free money coming in for another power boost, the market has nowhere to go but down to consolidate at a perceived fair value.

  39. Mannwich says:

    What do you expect from a Murdoch outfit? WSJ jumped the shark a long time ago, which is why I did not re-up my subscription over a year ago and have no plans to going forward any time soon.

  40. MorticiaA says:

    THANK YOU, BARRY!

    ’bout time someone reputable in the blogosphere pointed out what needs to be pointed.

    (@ TheBohemian in re the pretty blondes: Amen.)

    When Murdoch first bought the WSJ, I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. I had always blamed Ailes for the Fox News partisan B.S. — I figured the only party Murdoch held to was his own pocketbook.
    Turns out, he has infected the Journal after all; I saw it almost immediately.

  41. tfneuhaus says:

    I’m always amused when traditional media pundits attack blogs for lack of credibility and no adhearance to “traditional” journalistic standards. Uh…hello? The established media dug their own grave. Most journalists are lazy sacks who spew back the information that’s fed to them instead of trying to uncover the real truth.

  42. Mannwich says:

    dead hobo said: “The real impact is that Obama is threatening to withdraw the punch bowl and is being taken seriously for now. Most of the run up has been powered by free money that was substantially made available to the same banks running prop desks. This has been the fuel powering the rise. On the margin, the free money plus flash orders plus HFT are a gift. Without access to free money for trading purposes and the likely lack of new free money coming in for another power boost, the market has nowhere to go but down to consolidate at a perceived fair value.”

    I agree that’s the PERCEPTION right now in the markets and these days that’s all that matters. The perception before this latest bout of faux populism was that the Feds would do everything it could to juice the market so it has been buy, buy, buy the trashiest, junkiest company stocks even if underlying fundamentals did not justify it. After all, the Fed’s got your back. And like the signal was given to the markets in early March when the O man said it was a good time to buy stocks, the signal (however real or false) has now been given to the insiders to “take our ball (profits) and go home”.

  43. bobopapal says:

    Barry,

    This was posted online in the WSJ’s Marketbeat blog right after yesterday’s close

    http://blogs.wsj.com/marketbeat/2010/01/21/china-not-obama-sinks-stocks/

    I know it’s not the print edition, but there it is regardless, and very promptly.

  44. Mannwich says:

    And, of course, throw in those other real reasons (e.g. the situation in China, threat of default in Greece, a 68% straight up rally for 10 months, a crappy/not improving real U.S. economy, etc.), namely, FUNDAMENTALS, and here we are. Of course, with all of this perceived Fed backing of all assets these days, the fundamentals never matter anymore until they do (meaning, until the implicit support of all assets is perceived to be close to getting yanked by a populist political environment).

  45. P Diddy says:

    You don’t hold back against anyone, do you? CNBC, NYT, WSJ, Barron’s — I’ve been reading this blog for nearly 4 years, and you’ve trashed them all.

    I guess your business partners don’t want any more media coverage . . .

    ~~~

    BR: Look, I call them as i see them, and in terms of media, my relationship with various reporters is what generates quotes.

    The only place I seem to have become persona non grata is CNBC — and to be slightly arrogant for a moment, its their loss.

  46. jdavis says:

    This post misses the mark. Perhaps the WSJ has jumped the shark, but this example doesn’t prove it.

    Headline from the FT …

    “Investors fret over Obama’s bank assault”

  47. dead hobo says:

    Mannwich Says:
    January 22nd, 2010 at 10:06 am

    the signal (however real or false) has now been given to the insiders to “take our ball (profits) and go home”.

    reply:
    —————-
    Nailed it. Of course, Uncle Stupid is pervasive and creative. The probability of this being turned around 180 degrees based on some newly invented form of support for thieves and their toadies is very high. Uncle Stupid loves to give free money to those who need it least, then give free money to those who have troubles because they were raped by those who got the free money first and stole it. I’m talking exponential levels of stupidity. There are probably more atoms floating around in a square light year of empty outer space than useful brain cells among all of Uncle Stupid’s associates.

    This does not even take into consideration the possibility of one good story that makes leveraged cash available to the prop desks and off to the moon Alice once again.

  48. the bohemian says:

    “and to be slightly arrogant for a moment, its their loss.”

    for a moment? lol

    that’s a good one

  49. Mannwich says:

    Good for you, BR. Keep your integrity. Above all, that’s all that matters anyway. You obviously don’t need those nitwits anyway. I honestly don’t know anyone who takes them seriously anymore.

  50. EAR says:

    By the way, Barry, do you read Bloomberg Markets?

    Consistently solid.

    (No. I don’t work for them)

  51. dead hobo says:

    dead hobo Says:
    January 22nd, 2010 at 10:21 am

    There are probably more atoms floating around in a square light year of empty outer space than useful brain cells among all of Uncle Stupid’s associates.

    reply:
    ————
    Should have said:

    There are probably more atoms floating around in a cubic mile of empty outer space than useful brain cells among all of Uncle Stupid’s associates.

  52. BRV says:

    Barry, why would anyone as omniscient as you need the WSJ? BTW, the regular pages changed from worthwhile to worthless around 2000.

    As to why basic materials led the market lower yesterday — clocked by 4.33%, they began the session lower on signs that China may rein in their stimulus. They then moved another leg lower after the Obama press conference. While I think this proposal is going no where, it is simply a diversionary tactic on the heels of health-care rebuke via the MA election, the market’s knee-jerk reaction was to worry that such ideas would only extend the credit contraction cycle. And that has serious ramifications for the commodity-related inflation trade.

    ~~~

    BR: No one is omniscient — but I have a simple ability to see when quality degrades over time, and when the focus goes from providing objective info to investors to something else entirely.

  53. jdavis says:

    And, here’s a headline from Bloomberg.com …

    “Stocks, Commodities Fall on Obama Plan, Speculation China to Raise Rates”

    Now, maybe this is acceptable because they also mention the China story, but I really think that WSJ headline is being used by everybody.

    ~~~

    BR: imperfect, but better than the WSJ version.

  54. ModAuto says:

    Regardless of your beliefs about the WSJ under Murdoch, this story doesn’t cross the barrier that Mr. Ritholz thinks it does.

    The headline can be misconstrued, but the story has backup: Bank stocks, separate from the overall market, fell after Obama announced the plan. Making that link is perfectly within the bounds of how such stories are written, not just at the WSJ. Take this piece up earlier this morning, for example:

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks fell further on Friday, sending the S&P 500 and Nasdaq down 1 percent, as investors fretted about fallout from the Obama administration’s proposed restrictions on banks and a delay in confirming Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.

  55. Paul Vigna of DJMT makes a spirited defense of the WSJ here:

    The WSJ Jumped The Shark? No It Hasn’t
    http://markettalk.newswires-americas.com/?p=8047

  56. jdavis says:

    By the way, my comments are in no way a criticism of BR. He’s one of the best. I just think that while politics influence the WSJ and the NYT, both newspapers are still pretty good. BR probably wouldn’t disagree. FT is great, but is not a general newspaper in the way the Journal and Times are.

  57. ItalicBold says:

    “BR: Try the FT and Bloomberg.com”

    Completely agree, these are the only two I read, along with your blog.

  58. Brendan says:

    …and we wonder why the newspapers are dying. When every paper seems to have their own agenda, you can’t just buy a paper, read it and trust it. That’s why I stick to the news aggregators; I can click on three articles on the same subject and separate the factual wheat from the partisan-spun chaff.

  59. odds says:

    To be fair, it wasn’t just the Journal.

    CNN: http://money.cnn.com/video/markets/2010/01/22/mkts_bank_stocks_toyota.cnnmoney/
    AP: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Stocks-slide-as-Obama-calls-apf-1512287612.html?x=0&.v=29

    I could go on, but I’m too lazy, which is kind of funny because I attribute the problem you see with the Journal caused primarily by laziness, as opposed to bias.

  60. Greg0658 says:

    Is a focus on flows .. transparency proper .. meaning I knew in advance that NewsCorp was the parent Production Company for a movie I plopped some $s down for ? Now Avatar was entertaining to a level .. and lots of folks count on its success for a living. Do I wish to assist in the downfall of America by allowing ___ ?

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0499549/
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/01/tuesday-reads-3/#comment-248965

  61. Mike in Nola says:

    Bloomberg and, of course, CNBC both following suit, although Bloomberg also points out the China causation. All lazy media.

  62. Mannwich says:

    I would add that the proliferation of false meme’s communicated at lightening speed by our modern day 24-hour MSM, with a huge assist from technology, has become a big contributor to the Republic’s continuing downfall. People today either don’t have the time (is mainly a handy excuse though) or the inclination to dig deeper on anything important anymore. They just hear something while on the fly that fits their biases, latch onto it, and go with it, however wrong it may be. The result? Mass confusion abounds and the Republic slowly burns. Distract and divide. Lather, rinse, repeat.

  63. me says:

    Put me down too BR. My subscription runs out and they have been calling but the price is so ridiculous I wouldn’t even consider it anyhow, but since he brought in that news editor the paper is horrible and amateurish. I am letting it run out and just stick with FT and bloomberg.

  64. moneyearnin says:

    mainstream media headlines have never been accurate in determining why markets move. why all the fuss? barry seems to love trashing conservative outlets with such anger and vitriol. wsj was early on warning about fnm fre expansion and predicted that taxpayers would eventually have to bail them out.

  65. [...] the Murdoch-led Wall Street Journal jumped the shark?  (Big Picture contra DJ Market [...]

  66. [...] « They Brought it Upon Themselves WSJ Jumps the Shark [...]

  67. farmera1 says:

    Read the WSJ religiously for years. No more. Can’t stand the stupid political bias.

    Interesting side note. The second largest stock owner (some 7%) of News Corp is Alwaleed (Arab). He recently met with Murdock and reportedly Alwaleed wants to buy more. Also Alwaleed has approved of James Murdock as successor to Rupert.

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-01-21/alwaleed-backs-james-murdoch-as-news-corp-successor-correct-.html

    “Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the billionaire Saudi investor, said his choice to succeed Rupert Murdoch at the head of News Corp. is son James Murdoch.

    “If he doesn’t appoint him, I’ll be the first one to nominate him to be the successor of Mr. Rupert Murdoch,” Alwaleed said in an interview on the Charlie Rose program, to be shown tonight. Alwaleed held a 7 percent stake in News Corp. as of an Aug. 20 proxy statement.”

    So with the flood gates now open on corporate spending on politics, and the concentration of power in broadcasting/news continuing, we truly live in interesting times. So who said that countries wither from within????

  68. [...] A lament about the decline of the Wall Street Journal: The politicalization of the WSJ has moved to a new and more risky phase. The paper is now in danger of being a money loser — not for its investors (tho that has already happened), but for those traders who read its content. [...]

  69. dedalus says:

    Barry,

    As per the cause of the market’s sell off:

    I was market-making the EUR/USD on Tuesday night when at around 7:15pm CST our news provider said two things: CNN was projecting that Coakley would lose & China’s central bank was going to raise lending rates(?).

    Before that man finished speaking the EUR/USD began to plummet; it fell 100 pips in the span of 3 minutes !! on enormous volume, which normally only occurs when news is released on unemployment, Fed rate decisions, etc.

    The SPUs also began to simultaneously plummet, though their volume was miniscule (as usual at that time of night).

    Check your EUR/USD chart. The “selloff” began Tuesday night, I think around 7 pm CST.

  70. lovejoy says:

    YY agree ….. The Financial Times is the business paper to read. My only concen is that as its US reader base is getting so large, the stories tend to reflect the mainstream US though. It was better when it was an outsider looking in.

  71. lovejoy says:

    Barry … love your “down to earth” “call it as you see it” approach.

  72. ironman says:

    @Transor Z: Nice try, but you failed the IQ test!

    Meanwhile, I found what sparked the sell-off at 10:20 AM! At 10:18 AM on 21 Jan 2010, Reuters flashed a news headline: “Senate won’t vote on Bernanke this week: aide”. Later in the day, they fleshed in the story.

    Given that it questions whether Bernanke will continue as the Chairman of the Fed, this news qualifies as a noise event that can drive a significant negative change in stock prices, in that it increases uncertainty. The dividend futures confirm there has, as yet, been no change in the market’s fundamental drivers, so what we’re seeing in the markets now is purely a noise-driven event. If you’re into speculating on noise, it’s a buying opportunity.

    Even Warren Buffett agrees that falling stock prices would be the immediate impact of news of a non-Bernanke reappointment- although he didn’t get his day’s warning (actually, more like a minute!…)

  73. RG says:

    The changes in the WSJ (color, hype, sports, general pandering to popular tastes, more hype,
    yellow journalistic headlines,) and far less business info have convinced me to let my subscription
    expire. Expire is the operative word. Poor old venerable WSJ. RIP.

  74. JD says:

    Your post this morning misses the mark. Perhaps the WSJ business pages have succumbed to politics, but your example doesn’t prove it.

    Here’s a headline from the FT …

    Investors fret over Obama’s bank assault
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/59a631a8-0720-11df-a9b7-00144feabdc0.html

  75. My response to you is here:

    What Balanced Market Reporting Looks Like: FT
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/01/what-balanced-market-reporting-looks-like-ft/

  76. Larry says:

    Barry–I had the same reaction to the front page WSJ today, the politics are taking over.

    Is there any other daily non partisan financial paper you read?

    ~~~

    BR: See the FT discussion above

  77. [...] thought Rupert Murdoch wouldn’t ruin the Wall Street Journal. People were wrong, although the author concedes the problem is a bit more nuanced than he first [...]

  78. Transor Z says:

    @Transor Z: Nice try, but you failed the IQ test!

    Meanwhile, I found what sparked the sell-off at 10:20 AM! At 10:18 AM on 21 Jan 2010, Reuters flashed a news headline: “Senate won’t vote on Bernanke this week: aide”.

    I never said I was smart. But maybe I am a little sensitive about dependence on initial conditions. ;-p

    Dude, Barry’s a physics nerd so “noise event” means noise like in S/N ratio. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S/n_ratio

    It means there’s no information. Got another one for you: Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_hoc_ergo_propter_hoc

    Having said that, maybe your guess about what caused a movement at 10:20 am on 1/21/2010 is correct. And maybe it isn’t.

    Kinda just bustin’ balls here.

  79. This is why we love you, Barry:

    “Regular readers know that I despise political parties, believe partisans suffer brain damage — literally, they have the same cognitive deficits that ardent sports fans suffer. I have trashed both Bush and Obama, but moved to a bullish posture when despite either’s incompetence, they accidentally did something that caused a bullish set of factors to predominate.”

  80. DeDude says:

    Lovejoy@3:26, as WSJ continues it slow suicide the FT people must have begun considering starting up a FT-USA paper to tap into the opening left by WSJ. So maybe within the next 5 years we will get your good old eurocentric paper back ;-)

  81. Minderbender says:

    Barry,

    What is your take on Bloomberg? Same treatment as WSJ?

    Today’s (Sat) top Bloomberg headline and meme is:

    U.S. Stocks Fall Most Since October Amid Curbs on Banks, China
    By Elizabeth Stanton
    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aBsSzT0fsoPI&pos=1

    Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) — U.S. stocks declined for a second week, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to the biggest drop since October, as banks plunged on a White House proposal to limit financial risk and China moved to cool economic growth.

  82. Minderbender says:

    This comment (shown below) in response to Paul Vigna’s retort over at Market Talk seems to strike a cord – it seems we all are getting on each other’s nerves these days. Signs of the times that are a-changin’ – both the reality and the changing context in which each of us attempts to discern the reality:

    http://markettalk.newswires-americas.com/?p=8047

    Jim Maul January 23, 2010
    Well said and accurate.

    Barry does do good work, but he clearly has an axe to grind, his own behind-the-headline bias that is obvious to all except apparently to himself. The result is that I enjoy reading him, but like him, I get irritated at his biased point of view, that is, exactly what he is accusuing the headline writers of at WSJ. It seems to be a case of blind projection on the part of Barry. Surprising he doesn’t recognize it in himself and becomes very touchy and defensive when anyone hints at it, even abusive with his own readers. A bit of a shame, because his data-based and objective news aggregation and comment is very, very good reading.

  83. [...] Someone sent me an FT headline to show me that my WSJ post “misses the mark.” [...]

  84. JAB says:

    Amen On Luskin Being A Fade

    However, when Luskin and Kudlow disagree, which one do I fade?

  85. Greg0658 says:

    Tz & iman – “a butterfly in Brazil flapped its wings, a child in California rubbed her nose, and a sock fell off a clothesline in”
    fyi – I was WtFLOL (walkin the flat laughing out loud) .. guess shoulda said so :-) .. vBBv sounded plausable

  86. [...] how these things work: In a rant Friday morning, I wrote: “Regular readers know that I despise political parties, believe partisans suffer brain [...]

  87. [...] Many pointed to the so-called Volcker rule to explain last week's market sell-off. Like Ritholtz, I'm not quite sure I buy that explanation. I second Barry's view that the Journal is getting [...]

  88. [...] Last week, we discussed a highly politicized, misleading front page article about new bank rules (WSJ Jumps the Shark). [...]

  89. [...] Hitchens on North Korea (and the WSJ review of the book referenced, a good read whether or not you believe that the paper has jumped the shark). As for policy, I’m reminded of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, … if they were [...]