Saturday, March 14, 2009

Jon Stewart is right: The Financial Media ARE the problem

For the sake of entertainment and enlightenment, I hope you caught the debate this past week between Jon Stewart of the Daily Show and the talking heads on the business news network, CNBC.

I know the White House did.

We know that things have devolved to a pretty pathetic state of affairs when we have to rely on the Comedy Network to provide us with insights not afforded elsewhere, about the active role played by the main stream news media in fostering financial falsehoods. This great debate began when Jon Stewart took CNBC”s Rick Santelli to task for dumping on Obama’s plan to help mortgage holders avoid default. Rick Santelli’s callous rant from the trading floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange amounted to a nonsensical argument of “let’s blame the victim (mortgage holders), at the same time that we bailout the guilty parties (Citibank, Wamu, AIG etc).”

This line of logic by the press, of let’s blame the victim, was exactly what played out in Canada with those people who were dumb enough to have taken Stephen Harper at his word that he would never tax income trusts. A whole litany of Rick Santelli look-alikes came to the fore in Canada to argue that income trusts investors were responsible for their losses. None more pointedly so than Jonathan Chevreau in his piece entitled “Earth to Income trust investors: Don’t blame Ottawa for your investing blunders” Nice eh? These Canadians saving for retirement were maligned as being greedy coupon clippers, intent on turning Canada into a couch potato economy with their ponzi scheme investments and their lack of diversification. The fact that these suppositions were advanced as self evident truths, just adds to the media’s complete lack of credibility or intellectual rigor. Some of the mental midgets in the press who adopted this line of argument were Eric Reguly, Jonathan Chevreau, Terry Corcoran, Margaret Wente and Andy Willis. They were enjoined by many others, eager to jump on board the latest financial pop psychology of the day.

The other target of Jon Stewarts disaffection with the financial press was Jim Cramer of CNBC’s Mad Money who was giving financial advice that had no foundations whatsoever. Recommending that people continue buying stocks even though the valuations were unsupportable, arguing that people should just hold their noses and dive in. Jim Cramer was recommending that people buy Bear Stearns, six days before it went kaput. Why?, because he said so. Again this is analogous to the income trust fiasco in Canada, where virtually everyone in the Canadian press, with the sole exception of Diane Francis and Professor William Stanbury, were only too willing and submissive to grasp onto the Harper government’s completely bogus argument that income trusts cause tax leakage. This argument was nothing more than a modern day witch hunt. Tax leakage was the new creationist religion that was seized upon by the incompetent financial press in Canada. This witch hunt about tax leakage was no different than George Bush advancing his false arguments of WMD to invade Iraq. The false arguments of WMD that were shamelessly advanced by the New York Time and the now disgraced reporter, Judith Milller, who has many surrogates here in Canada.

As shameful as that was, and as incompetent and culpable as the US press were in advancing the false notion of WMD, I have a lot more sympathy for their gross error than I do for the Canadians press’s handling of the income trust fiasco. The reason simply being that one doesn’t have to engage in hiring a team of UN weapons inspectors to determine whether income trusts cause tax leakage. And nor is one being asked to prove the absence of something (WMD), but rather the much, much simpler exercise as proving the presence of something (tax leakage). However “proof” is a requirement that the Canadian press thinks it can summarily dispense with? The Canadian press has failed Canadians utterly in the task of providing proof or demanding proof, and as Jon Stewart stated last week, their guilt is not simply the guilt of omission, but rather the guilt of commission. These people in the Canadian press are guilty of being co-opted by those in government and those who stand to commercially benefit from this far reaching tax policy and have lowered their professional standards to the equivalent of the disgraced pathologist Dr. Smith, and are corrupting our democratic system in the process, with their false claims of tax leakage which have caused significant harm to many Canadians, the vast majority of whom are seniors seeking to make ends meet.

Over the course of the first four months, the information about the Harper government’s lies about tax leakage had been neatly laid out for all the media to see, including at the Public Hearing on Income Trusts held by Parliament. It was shortly thereafter, when the media had failed completely to report faithfully on what was before it, that I told Diane Francis that 80% of our problem lay with the media, That was probably being generous. It should be expected that Canadian politicians are programmed to lie and deceive the voting public, however it was only through the income trust issue that I came to realize that the Canadian press have allowed themselves to be similarly their very core. I suggest that members of the Canadian press reflect on why they pursued a career in journalism in the first place. Was it to report on the truth, or was it to act as a pawn in propagating known lies , the propagation of which causes immense harm to others and corrupts our political and financial system? It’s time you people got serious about what you do for a living, and join Jon Stewart.....of the Comedy Network, in doing what’s right for society.

1 comment:

Dr Mike said...

The media is sometimes known as "Talking Heads".

What if the heads are empty , what do we get??

The propagation of the income trust fiasco , that`s what we get & a whole lot of hurt to ordinary folks who believed their Prime Minister.

Stupid coupon clipping greedy old farts who believed their Prime Minister---what a bunch of dummies who deserve to be vaporized like that Fullard guy.

Dr Mike.