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CNBC: News or Boosterism?

Edward Wasserman at the Miami Herald, in “Flying high with the Money Honey,” observes:

CNBC no longer perceives a difference between journalist and show pony. Bartiromo’s jet-setting isn’t, as the network claims, source development. She isn’t doing legwork on stories. She’s a corporate emissary and brand-enhancement, helping favored companies — many of them CNBC advertisers — to put on successful events. She partners with the world she’s supposed to cover.

The Bartiromo situation is only the most recent flagrant example of questionable ethics in big media, but far from the only one. Look at the Scooter Libby trial in Washington, where all kinds of unhealthy journalistic practices are being hung out for exposure.

CNBC is turning into a promotional channel for corporate America and the stock markets. Nothing wrong with that, actually — except the falsehood of conflating news with boosterism.

The next time a Big Media organization thinks about taking a dig at blogger ethics — which are sometimes quite questionable — it should consider looking first at the really big game, where the biggest audiences still converge: in Big Media.


Here’s an example of CNBC’s stock-market boosterism: the “Million Dollar Portfolio Challenge” that is little but an invitation to see who can make the most lucrative short-term bets. No one is actually investing real money, of course; it’s just an online contest running 10 weeks. Pseudo gamblers can make up to 50 mock trades a day, and the 10 best gamblers go onto a final round.

This kind of thing does nothing but promote the worst excesses of the dot-com bubble days, when CNBC’s on-the-air “news programming” could move stocks instantly skyward just by mentioning them — when a few day traders scored big and a lot of average Americans got absolutely screwed.

CNBC’s event would be named more accurately as a day-trading gambling contest. It has nothing to do with the kind of investing that builds real wealth for average people, where slow and steady gains are the goal. It’s irresponsible in the extreme, but unsurprising from the Money Honey channel.

1 Comment on “CNBC: News or Boosterism?”

  1. #1 RTB
    on Feb 21st, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    Last year’s winner simply put all of his “money” into one stock that ended up taking off.