22 August 2012

CNBC's Heavy-Handed Advocacy For Wall Street Is Painfully Evident in This Neil Barofsky Interview

Heavy handed and amateurish performance by the 'journalists' was the name of the game in this interview which CNBC conducted with former TARP inspector general Neil Barofsky.

I think Barofsky was taken aback and kept off balance for much of the interview, and did not present some of the alternatives to TARP that could have been discussed in a more intelligent and less adversarial venue.  I would have thought a former federal prosecutor would have been tougher, but I think he came in expecting a rational discussion and not a tag team group takedown.

This performance represents the level of journalistic quality and objectivity of its parent NBC, which is one of the corporate arms of General Electric.   And such a disregard for any pretense to journalistic principles is no longer the exception.

Maybe I am missing something but it seems astonishing that a major financial network can feature a stock advisor who bragged on tape about how he used reporters for planting stories favorable to his market manipulation to cheat the public when he ran a hedge fund, and apparently sees nothing wrong with it, up to and including breaking the law.

How cynical can a people get? How blindly worshipful of 'success?'

This calls to mind the interview that CNBC had with the California Attorney General who had the presence of mind to just stop the interview and ask the 'journalist,' "Are you pimping for (State Street Bank) the defendant?"

There was a time indeed when the financial journalists were paid for pimping for Wall Street, as recounted in the Congressional testimony of A. Newton Plummer, who had kept a suitcase full of the canceled checks which he had delivered to almost every journalist on the Street. The pool operators of the 1920's paid financial journalists to run stories favorable to their market aims.

A. Newton Plummer subsequently wrote a book about it, and his testimony to the Congress, that had a very limited run. I picked up a copy during my research phase in the late 1990's.

So as you can see, the integrity of journalism in reporting financial news is not merely an idealistic and theoretical concern during periods of excess and subsequent change. It is one of the major elements of corruption and therefore of reform. And laws were put in place to ensure fairness and diversity in the news media. And they were much later knocked down during 'the great deregulation' when ideology and PR campaigns trumped experience once again.

Do people still go to journalism schools and subscribe to certain principles that we used to take for granted that would be put forward if not always upheld?

How are the mighty fallen.

Here is a link to the interview at the CNBC site in case there are problems with access to it here.

Note:  Business Insider also covered this interview.  Their story here includes some of the tweets which Barofsky sent after the show.