Sunday, March 20, 2011

CNBC Celebrates A Non-Event

Two weeks ago, I wrote this post critiquing various on-air staff at CNBC. It was a toss up to categorize Bob Pisani as one of "The Bad,", rather than "Ugly." I wrote,

"Pisani spends too much of each weekday looking astonished or surprised by some move in equities. That's when he isn't anthropomorphizing the market and cheering it onward to new heights, rather than simply reporting the facts.

Anchors and reporters who can't add value beyond restating the obvious or bringing some level of knowledge to a topic, so that they can at least ask questions you would, or hadn't considered, are just a waste."

The problem is, Pisani veers dangerously close to dispensing falsehoods, which would have clearly put him in The Ugly category. The salient falsehood that Pisani peddles is that anything happening on the floor where he is stationed actually matters anymore.

Last Tuesday, I happened to see the network hold a little celebratory, self-congratulatory moment at around 3:30 for the 15th anniversary of Pisani's debut reporting from the floor of the NYSE.

In 1996, the floor saw a lot more activity. Technology for crossing trades off of the floor was much less pronounced, and the floor was actually crowded. In those days, reporters from the floor had to fight for space, often getting hip-checked and jostled during their live reports.

Not anymore. Now you see a few people in the distance, and nobody usually comes within camera-range.

The funny thing about CNBC making a big deal out of Pisani's tenure is that the guy is a no-value-added chump. That is, he adds no value to viewers, but has been known to allow himself to be manipulated by institutional fund managers to great effect, and for tremendous value.

I recall seeing an interview with Jim Cramer, in which he admitted blatantly manipulating a stock by pumping Pisani with rumors, sending the issue's price up during the day. Cramer than sold before the close, making nice profits, so he said.

How is it that CNBC, upon learning this, even considered leaving the hapless Pisani down on the floor? Doing so was tantamount to explicitly allowing fund managers a wide-open door through which to manipulate markets in favored equities.

Just incredible. Rather than celebrating the guy's tenure reporting from the floor of the NYSE, they should have pulled him years ago, out of a sense of propriety and concern for retail investors, if nothing else.

As for Pisani, you wonder whether he is too dense to understand what Cramer's interview did to his role and crediblity, or is just so arrogant as to ignore the obvious import of it.

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