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Friday, February 07, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



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"In January of 2008, Jim Cramer, in a video at TheStreet.com, recommended that readers buy shares of Bear Stearns. Two months later, he bellowed on his CNBC show, “Mad Money,” that “Bear Stearns is fine!” and “Bear Stearns is not in trouble.” Within days, the bank was nearly insolvent and had been acquired by JPMorgan Chase. Cramer is well known for his hysterical boosterism of the stocks he likes, but enthusiasm for well-performing companies isn’t unique in business journalism. In 2003, Kimberly Allers, writing in Fortune, described Washington Mutual as “a banking powerhouse” with an “unorthodox retail approach.” In 2006, Fortune headlined an article about Lehman Brothers’s C.E.O., Dick Fuld, “The Improbable Power Broker,” with the subtitle “How Dick Fuld transformed Lehman from Wall Street also-ran to Super-Hot Machine.” In 2007, Neil Weinberg, of Forbes, observed that “Goldman [Sachs] has to stay out ahead of its rivals in trying daring and innovative approaches that push the outer edge of the boundary between what is okay and what may not be.”
Business reporters are supposed to make the complex worlds of finance and commerce intelligible to non-experts. But business journalism generally failed to predict the looming credit collapse, although a few reporters warned of its arrival. Critical stories by Michael Hudson, of the Roanoke Times and the Wall Street Journal, and Gillian Tett, of the Financial Times, drowned in a vat of glimmering C.E.O. profiles and analyst chatter. Business reporters missed opportunities to investigate abusive lending, negligent rating agencies, and dodgy derivatives trading. To critics, they were complicit in the financial crisis and the recession that followed. One of these critics, Dean Starkman, is the author of a new book, “The Watchdog That Didn’t Bark.” In his history of business news, Starkman describes how reporters, dependent on insider sources to inform an élite audience of investors, practice a kind of journalism that is defined by access. News becomes a guide to investing, more concerned with explaining business strategies to consumers than with examining broader political or social issues to the public. Access reporting is friendly to executives because it relies on their candor. Starkman writes that during the crucial lead-up to the financial crisis, from 2004 to 2006, this news culture crowded out the kind of investigative journalism that might have inspired reform. Andrew Ross Sorkin’s “Too Big to Fail,” a book that paints culpable Wall Street kingpins as weary heroes, is, to Starkman, the definitive account of the crash—and wrongly so." (NewYorker)


Hollande ‘s White House dinner now ‘the social event’ of DC


"Tuesday’s state dinner for French President François Hollande has become the social event of the season in DC. The guest list is being kept secret for now, but the pre-Valentine’s Day love-fest for Hollande has became the hottest ticket in town after he dumped live-in girlfriend Valérie Trierweiler for actress Julie Gayet.  French officials say Hollande will be traveling solo, so the DC elite won’t get to meet Ms. Gayet, 41. President Obama is giving the royal treatment despite Hollande’s simmering sex scandal, with plans to take him on a tour of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello next week before feting him at the glamorous state dinner." (P6)

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