Monday, October 17, 2011

CNBC & Bloomberg Odds & Ends

While working and writing this morning, I observed the following on the CNBC and Bloomberg business cable networks.

On the former, David Faber's noontime Strategy Session has become a ratings casualty. I happened to be listening to the 9-11AM program, which announced it was newly-extended for another hour. Faber and his former co-host, Gary Kaminsky, appeared in discrete segments, as did Rick Santelli, with Kevin Ferry and The Wolfman, from the CME. The CME-based segment is apparently intended to be a frequent and longer featured element going forward.

Checking internet chatter, I see that the move was announced last week. One reviewer claimed that Faber's program wasn't sufficiently visual, i.e., didn't feature shots of the NYSE floor.

Well, neither does the options program. Nor Tom Keene's Bloomberg midday hour.

I suspect that, in line with CNBC's typically shallow, brief approach to any finance or business story during the day, Faber's cerebral treatment of topics just didn't fit, whereas Keene's program does mesh with his network's deeper, more insightful treatment of business and finance stories.

Elsewhere, various sites either stated or implied that CNBC's 11AM-noon The Call, with Melissa Francis and Larry Kudlow, was too non-liberal in sentiment, so it had to go. And along those lines, Michele Caruso-Cabrera was ousted from the early afternoon Power Lunch and named some sort of senior international correspondent. Thus cleansing CNBC of any objective political viewpoints in New York between 9AM and whenever Francis is allowed on again in the afternoon.

Still, that doesn't mean that Bloomberg can't be biased and shallow, too.

For example, this morning the network aired a real time interview with James Galbraith, an economics professor and son of the late prominent liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith. In his mercifully brief appearance, Galbraith assured one and all that the president is in an ideal spot, politically, on economic matters. That his jobs bill is the magical elixir for the US economy, regardless of its cost, and that Republicans have 'no ideas' to counter it.

I can't speak to Galbraith's first point, since it's merely an opinion, but the second and third are sheer nonsense.

Does it not concern you that the president calls for massive (re)building of schools, roads, and bridges, all of a sudden? The House Transportation Committee is an historically large one, for all the infrastructure pork to be had by serving on it. This nation has appropriated tens of billions of dollars for such infrastructure for years- decades, even. Where'd it all go?

Schools are the province of local communities, not the federal government. Why do we suddenly want the federal government making decisions regarding local school needs? I certainly don't.

Doesn't that also suggest that a nation full of local school districts have been totally negligent in overseeing the nation's physical educational assets? Why don't we fix that, if it's a problem, and not just send the problem up to Washington?

Then there's the massive public sector union hiring to do all the (re)building, not to mention teaching. Except  that, elsewhere, on my companion political blog, I've discussed evidence illustrating that many US states have suffered growth in numbers of teachers and their associates which far outpace the growth of relevant student populations. In some states, the growth rates actually go in opposite directions!

Again, hardly something we either need or should want federal "help" to sort out.

Galbraith then proceeded to call for a whole new set of FDR-like GSEs to replace old, outdated and shuttered programs like RFC. When challenged that Fannie and Freddie had resulted in the 2007-08 financial crisis, Galbraith falsely replied that they didn't cause the problem, and only experienced losses near the end of their long lives. So it was okay to expand them again, or just create replacements.

Just incredible!

Finally, Galbraith's breezy dismissal of Republican ideas about job growth was just insulting. But perhaps only slightly less so than the Bloomberg anchor's failure to challenge him on this false contention. Just because Republican solutions to US job growth don't involve throwing half a trillion dollars at public sector union members doesn't mean they don't offer any. In fact, GOP Congressional leaders have argued long and loud for less government-generated uncertainty in the business sector, and less regulation of sectors such as energy and finance, so that job losses could be reversed.

Sometimes cable network bias is so subtle and quick that you almost don't even notice it.

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