Just a quick note before I run out this morning: Today’s must read is a brutal takedown of the CNBC driven narrative of the fiscal cliff. Its written by Ryan Chittum of The Audit, which is the Columbia Journalism Review’s site that focuses on the financial press.

Here is a quick excerpt:

“Any time you see Wall Street CEOs and CNBC campaigning for what they call the common good, it’s worth raising an eyebrow or two.

So it is with CNBC’s “Rise Above” crusade, which has blanketed its airwaves and adorned its lapels since the day after the election with pleas for a solution to the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

You’ll note that CNBC has not Risen Above for the common good on issues like stimulating a depressed economy, ameliorating the housing catastrophe, or prosecuting its Wall Street sources/dinner partners for the subprime fiasco. But make no mistake: even if it had, it would have been stepping outside the boundaries of traditional American journalism practice into political advocacy. And that’s precisely what it’s doing here, at further cost to its credibility as a mainstream news organization instead of some HD version of Wall Street CCTV.

The big question: Why is a news organization running what’s effectively a political campaign for Simpson-Bowles, complete with thirty-second spots and campaign buttons? Look, kids. You can get your very own Rise Above pin, wrapped in the flag, just like your favorite business-news personalities! Roger Ailes himself must blush at this kind of grandstanding, but I have a hard time believing the business class and CNBC would be so worked up over this austerity program if it weren’t for the major tax increases contained therein.”

You really must read the entire thing.

When you do, think about the things that have gotten the press in general worked up into a tizzy. In particular, consider what CNBC has and has not gotten worked up about in the past, and what they completely missed. They are a fairly reliable fade . . .



Rise Above, CNBC’s move into advocacy: Corporate America’s house organ starts an anti-political political campaign
Ryan Chittum
The Audit, November 20, 2012

Category: Financial Press, 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.

34 Responses to “CJR Says Fiscal Cliff is a CNBC Scam”

  1. rd says:

    Capital gains taxes shooting up so that the carried interest provision has much less impact on their personal finances as well as their real investments getting taxed much higher when they sell (although still much lower than income derived by actual work).

    Stock dividend tax rates becoming ordinary income (the horror of stock dividend income being treated the same as interest on bonds).

    The panic must be setting in by now as their standard bearer’s (Mitt Romney) taxes are set to shoot up from 13.8% to about 25% (pretty close to what I pay in federal and payroll taxes). This is a nearly unconscionable crime that must be rectified soon!

  2. rbd001 says:

    CNBC has become a branch of Fox News, especially squawk box. Austerity is like chastity, it is better in theory than in practice. I will believe seriousness of CEOs to address the deficit when the Ethanol producers say the mandates don’t make sense, when the homebuilders say, eliminate the mortgage deduction on second homes and RVs, and the oil industry says, exploration tax breaks don’t make sense in an era of above average oil prices. That being said, the reality is attacking entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare. Social Security age was not set up for Americans living until they are 85, we need to raise the age to 75, and ensure that there is legal protection against age discrimination for Americans who need to work longer.

  3. Moss says:

    Just check the CNBC advertisers to understand who they are working for.
    Would love to see them interview Steve Cohen right about now.

  4. Orange14 says:

    CNBC lost their relevancy several years ago and is an embarrassment to the financial sector. Bloomberg does such a better job of reporting and Betty Liu has at least 200 more IQ points than Joe Kernen (whose IQ is in the negative numbers and fawning over fossilized former CEOs such as Jack Welch is worse than appalling). Why a decent fellow such as Andrew Ross Sorkin stays on this sinking ship is beyond me. He should really get back to straight reporting but I guess the money is just too good.

  5. krice2001 says:

    What’s this “CBNC” you’re posting about? ;-)

  6. you know, instead of pondering inanities, like..”…Why a decent fellow such as Andrew Ross Sorkin stays on this sinking ship is beyond me. He should really get back to straight reporting but I guess the money is just too good…”

    maybe, We’d be better off perusing.. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/r/ralph_waldo_emerson_3.html ..in general..


    A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise shall give him no peace.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

    more specifically..~


    contrast ARS(e) with https://www.propublica.org/site/author/jesse_eisinger/ , see some of..

    A man is a method, a progressive arrangement; a selecting principle, gathering his like to him; wherever he goes.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson

    and, certainly, Try Again..!~

    past that, and better, nice Work yon’ Ryan Chittum..

    CNBS is known, in such way–for a Reason.~

  7. theexpertisin says:

    A less sinister explanation for CNBC/fiscal cliff is that media is so plentiful that news angles have to be manufactured to provide a curiosity content to entice viewers (or readers), Shock headlines have been a staple of newspapers forever. The Hearst newspapers back in the day ran sensationalist and politically driven agenda content and the result for him was a world-class mansion right by the California coastline (I recommend you tour it – San Simeon, aka the Hearst Castle) and the Spanish American War.

    As for manufacturing news, my personal favorite is media services that initiate a poll, often shaped by the wording of the question to obtain desired result with a biased control group, and then prominently report the result as if it was news. Fox News and the NYT, take a bow.

    I don’t see an end to this. But it is instructive that BR and others are reminding us that we should be vigilant accepting frivolous or misleading information fed to us through bold print on page one above the fold or a well groomed talking head.

  8. GeorgeBurnsWasRight says:

    Similarly irritating is Erin Burnett on CNN each night mentioning how many days it’s been since the US credit rating was downgraded, as if Congress is going to do something to restore it. More likely Congress will do something which gets it downgraded again.

  9. bobnoxy says:

    Are we really having a conversation about CNBC’s credibility after all we’ve seen over the past 15 years? Do we really think the media hasn’t been used for propaganda and agenda promotion over the past 50 years or so?

    I think we get confused around election time, thinking we live in a democracy and we have a voice, and that we’re a nation of laws and fair play, and that news is just that, news.

    For your penance, re-read Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent.

    Scott Pelley reminded us last night that our government considers Hamas a terrorist organization. Over there, it’s considered the democratically elected government’s most popular party. Then they compare Hamas to what we did in Iraq and Afghanistan, unthinkable here, of course.

    We used to champion democracy around the world. Odd how often we prefer puppet governments hated by their own people and how easily we believe the lies about which is which. It’s our own fault, but it’s okay because American Idol is back on!

  10. Savage1701 says:

    If memory serves, several months ago CNBC made “news” for having their number of viewers fall as low as 99,000 during some segments. This is a channel that is already dead but just does not yet realize it.

    I don’t think CNBC should be doing this either, but frankly, I agree with the other post above. They have become so irrelevant that it really seems ridiculous to me anyway. I stopped watching CNBC and most other channels since “reporting” has long since turned into “editorializing”. I don’t care what your political inclination is, all news outlets have essentially turned into this type of slanted presentation.

    I try to get most of my news from wire feeds. I’d much rather read a couple sentence blurb on earnings or political situations or conflicts than listen to some (largely) uneducated, biased talking-head spew forth.

    Shame on CNBC but it’s just one of the many journalistic sins mainstream media commits every day.

  11. Savage1701 says:

    Oh boy, just read into that article. Agree with much of it but not much in a guy who turns around and fawns all over Paul Krugman. But, hey, it’s an editorial, so that’s his right.

  12. techy says:

    I think it is just a marketing campaign to get the ratings up. Its not like any business is interested in the well being of the country, its all about “whats best for me”. Even the politicians dont care about anything other than getting re-elected.

  13. ComradeAnon says:

    Wealthy people advocating policies that are best for wealthy people is the common denominator among quite a few organizations.

  14. RW says:

    Paul Krugman is so down on the CNBC austerity cheer-leading and the pander to .01% wannabes that it looks like up to me.

  15. CNBC = Causing Nothing But Chaos

    Two months ago Jon Stewart called Fauxnews for what it is: “Bull#hit Mountain”

    ‘Chaos on Bull#hit Mountain’ – http://youtu.be/km4BfW2836Y

    Happy Thanksgiving to All

  16. DeDude says:


    “the horror of stock dividend income being treated the same as interest on bonds”

    You mean just like ordinary people who’s dividend income goes into an IRA and eventually is taxed like ordinary income. This is not just a loss of money for them – its and insult of treating them like ordinary people. No wonder they are all squawking like pigs in a slaughterhouse.


    Sorry you have been drinking the Fox/CNBC cool aid. The relevant issue of age vs. social security is not whether infant mortality has been reduced such that life expectancy is raised. The relevant issue is how long people live after they hit retirement age. On that account there is no reason to raise the age more than the 2 years it already has been raised. Indeed if you actually raised it to 75 year the majority of hard working low income people would never get a single social security payment because they would be dead before they could collect. Furthermore, society is running out of work so the worst thing we can do is to take people out of the retirement pool and force them into the already way to big pool of people who need work.



  17. idaman says:

    The faulty premise in your article is that CNBC is a news organization.

    It’s worth noting that professional journalism was a mid 20 century invention. When our constitution was written, not only was there no such thing as objective journalism, there was no journalism. The founding fathers were subject to Fox News like attacks routinely, and they still put in the constitution the right to political speech!!!

  18. Paul Krugman says:

    C Is For Class Warfare

    Ryan Chittum has a great piece about CNBC’s decision to drop even the pretense of journalistic objectivity and throw its weight behind the deficit scolds. Basically, the network has gone all in on behalf of the 0.01 percent.

    One question Chittum doesn’t really get at, however, is why CNBC takes this tilt — why, in fact, it has been so dominated by the fake deficit hawk faction, the people who say that the debt is terrible, terrible, and that’s why we have to cut taxes on the rich. After all, the network’s audience does not consists mainly of the very rich; rather, it’s the 1 percent wannabees, who imagine that watching many hours of talking heads will somehow let them absorb the secrets of getting rich.

    Now, one possible answer is that we’re looking at what the sponsors rather than the viewers want. But I don’t think that’s the main story; if there really were millions of people eager to get business news with a Keynesian flavor, my guess is that Wall Street would swallow its revulsion and buy ads all the same.

  19. 4whatitsworth says:

    Yeah, clearly public opinion would tell us it’s all contrived by rich people who are overly concerned with the effect of large government and taxes on the economy. It’s not like capitalism really works anyway.

    - As Abraham Lincoln said “With public sentiment nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed”.

  20. [...] more proof that the fiscal cliff is a manufactured crisis of minimal [...]

  21. pintelho says:

    A- TO THE -MEN!!!

    BR Consider also, the discussion around the European Crisis…I have heard the most dishonesty in the media on this topic than almost anything else.

    1. Austerity on the Greeks MUST HAPPEN at all costs… Yet, bailing out the bankers who took the risk is simply the obvious choice! No discussion about how Bankers took a risk and should be faced with the losses..NEIGH the people must sacrifice…the Bankers must be saved at all costs…human or otherwise.

    It’s maddening and sickening.

    Also the f’in fiscal cliff… and the US “Debt crisis” what kind of debt crisis starts with a 30 year loan at 3% or a 10 year loan at 1.5%…

    the media is so chock full of lies and misinformation it has become maddening and sickening…

  22. WFTA says:

    I find it unpardonable that the press gives the politicians a pass on throwing Social Security into the deficit/debt discussion which will likely lead to an unnecessary loss of benefits, and that they refuse to force any forthrightness on the Medicare train wreck and what must be done to solve it. The 1% has been trying to roll back the New Deal since Roosevelt took office. The fiscal cliff horse $hit will let them use the money we’ve cheerfully entrusted to Social Security to pay for the Bush tax cuts.

  23. Expat says:

    I thought the pin was ironic. I also thought it meant “Rise Above…the bullshit”, which is why I thought it was CNBC trying to imitate the Onion.

  24. Apinak says:


    AS DeDude points out the idea that rising life expectancy has caused a crisis in Social Security has been extensively debunked. There has been little rise in life expectancy for those already 65,it has actually dropped for the poor. In addition, both the original creation of SS and the 1983 changes expected life expectancies to rise even more than they did and factored that into the equations.

    What wasn’t predicted and is causing the long-term SS projected shortfall is rapidly rising income inequality. The 1983 changes were based on 90% of all income being subject to SS taxes but because the rich now collect of such a large proportion of income, only 84% of income is subject to SS taxes. That is the true cause of the shortfall so the obvious solution is to raise the cap on how much income is taxed. A cap of $180,000 in income would restore the 90% level.

  25. Apinak says:

    For the last 3 years Republicans have been arguing that the stimulus which was made up of ~$800 billion in tax cuts (40%) and spending did nothing to help the economy. Now they are turning around and claiming that cutting ~$800 billion through tax hikes and spending cuts will destroy the economy. It is amazing that their heads don’t explode.

  26. Iamthe50percent says:

    rbd001, raise the retirement age to 75? That certainly will be a middle-class entitlement, because all the blue-collar workers will be dead by then. I wonder, do you want to fly with a 74-year old pilot? Or put 74-year old cops on foot patrol? 74-year old roofers? Please remember that not everyone works in an office.

  27. DeDude says:


    I would go further and ask what kind of crisis is it to have debt with an inflation adjusted interest rate of -1% (NEGATIVE 1%) if your income is inflation adjusted. Current debt carry interest below inflation (for TIPS) and below expected inflation for regular treasuries.

  28. dougc says:

    Reminds me of the Y2K fiasco created by the media. They will use baseline tricks and delayed cuts to pretend and extend any meaningful deficit reduction and trillion dollar deficits will continue for a decade unless a recession occurs then 2 trillion. Enjoy the holidays.


    BR: I used that example in my WaPo piece this coming weekend

  29. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    It’s posts and links like this that keep TBP in my ‘top ten’ bookmarks.

    This ‘fiscal cliff’ nonsense is a prime example of fomenting so much turmoil and fear that too many people are guaranteed to make dreadful decisions. It’s unnecessary, and it is completely irresponsible.
    CNBC is inflicting its own mortal wounds.

  30. ToNYC says:

    So who exactly is the one man turning the Rise Above screw, the 51% owner, Brian Roberts?
    It was amusing in the wee hours to watch biotechnik ‘spert JoeK this week stiff-arm Andrew Sorkins’s proud Science Times headline on PSTD treatment successes(Hint: non-patentable treatment nor orphan drug) with a pile of Hostess Twinkies and Devil Dogs on his family dining room and a bit of Howdy and Buffalo Bob. Brian got stuck to be sure with the bill as well for a job well done.

  31. Giovanni says:

    Clearly CNBC has jumped the shark.

  32. [...] calamities as a return of smallpox, forced incest and insects of above average size, according to everyone at CNBC. Also, tax hikes are off the [...]

  33. [...] The column was motivated by a few factors: 1) The manufactured nature of this faux crisis; The Columbia Journalism Review blamed the entire construct on a CNBC push. [...]

  34. [...] of hype about sequestration (aka incessant fiscal cliff nonsense)  pretty clear. (See this, this, this and this if you somehow missed it). It won’t surprise you to learn that as a general [...]