Media Criticism: Too harsh? (No)

On occasion in this space, I have turned the spotlight on the Financial Press. I am all too aware of the tendency to engage in hyperbole or worse. As someone who is involved in that sphere as both a writer and a guest, I feel obligated to address these issues, as it impacts markets, and especially, investor sentiment.

I have, for example, disagreed with Larry Kudlow’s inflation views, criticized Jim Cramer’s columns on Real Money as being over the top, noted the knee-jerk response to Cramer’s show (Monitoring the ‘Mad Money’ Madness), even discussing the show’s tcotchkes for sale on eBay.

I have been critical — in a hopefully constructive way — about the WSJ’s blogging effort, as well as the NYT’s attempts. I have harrassed Dow Jones Newswires to make Market Talk a blog, and derided TheStreet.com’s blogging effort.

I tried to reveal a bit of behind the scenes views of SquawkBox. I’ve whined about Squawk Box’s removing the clock and futures bug, and kvetched about the awful annoying sound effects on Power Lunch. I’ve scratched my head in wonder at some of the less comprehensible changes at the network.

Business week was critiqued for a Cover Story. We’ve discussed the overall consolidation in the financial press, and lamented nameless distributors of misinformation;  We’ve mocked that voiceless, powerless entity Squawkbox for Blogging.   

When Bulls & Bears got excessively bullish on the War outcome (Bulls & Bulls?), I’ve called them on it.

I’ve almost never complained about my own coverage (okay, maybe once, but I admitted it was my own fault). I do not use this platform to kvetch about being invited or not as a guest. My criticism is never ad hominem, always relates to how the coverage is done and is concerned with the impact on the investor.

Since I endeavor to be "fair and balanced" at all times, I want to address the Bulls & Bears show I critiqued. I received a few private comments about that, I’d like to clarify that post:

1) From my own experience with Fox, they never put words into guests mouths; I have always been free to say whatevcer I wanted to. If anyone read that into it, that is simply the wrong conclusion;

2) The selection of all uber-bullish guests, however, does move the show away from a "fair & balanced" perspective;

3) Finally, what truly got me crazed was a general blase attitude about the war — Iraq is not going swimmingly. Want to know what the Cost of Freedom is? Over 2300 US service have been killed, with nearly 20,000 injured. I found it offensive to frivolously downplay the danger. It is simply inappropriate when service men (and women) are in harm’s way to be so shallow and superficial on the subject.

4) I rarely discuss this, but I take war and terrorism extremely seriously. My old firm was headquartered in 2 World Trade on September 11; I lost friends, and I know too many people who have lost family members on 9/11 — or in Afghanistan orin Iraq.  I tolerate no bull&*%$ on the subject.

In rereading the Bulls & Bulls piece, perhaps my tone is harsher than it needed to be. I apologize for that.  I was furious, and my sarcasm failed to come across in print the way I hoped.

As to the substance of it, I stand by what I wrote. Anyone who downplays the risks in Iraq or takes the matter in a less than serious manner deserves scorn and ridicule.

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