CNBC: The MSNBC Business Channel

03 October 2008

Why CNBC: Gloom And Doom TV?


In the immortal
words of the late Admiral James Stockdale, "Who am I? Why am I here?"

That's a heck of a question, especially as yours truly considers even the thought of maintaining a third site. Both
The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney and SaveWRKO, a regional talk radio site for New England, have succeeded because they've filled blogospheric black holes.

While the latter site was created out of frustration with a Boston talk station's decision to hire a convicted felon to host its morning show, the
Radio Equalizer has built its following based on both opinionated commentaries and original investigative reporting. Both have been widely quoted in newspapers and on both cable and radio talk shows.

Your Radio Equalizer is actually one of the earliest CNBC fanatics, going back to the FNN days before it merged with the NBC upstart. Since the modern version of CNBC began in 1991, it has evolved considerably.

In the early years, only elitists with crude, brick-sized mobile phones owned stocks. Now, between individual portfolios and retirement plans, who doesn't? That cultural shift has brought the mainstreaming of CNBC and substantially larger audiences. With that, occasional controversies have emerged, including charges that it was too upbeat during the bubble of a decade ago.

More recently, however, CNBC has become the gloom-and-doom, economic armageddon network. Even minor rallies are questioned repeatedly, while there are always a thousand reasons to justify a major sell-off. It has become depressing to watch.

Guests with positive economic outlooks are rudely shouted down, as though they are merely trying to deceive viewers with sugar-coated assessments. And news anchors have become analysts, always quick to assert their views on the day's events.

While CNBC isn't yet as out-of-control as its sister station, MSNBC, in recent days it has come close. In no way is this site asserting that CNBC is directly responsible for our nation's economic crisis, yet there is a need to take a step back and analyze the tone recently taken.

At the moment, this site is truly half-baked. If it proves to have legs, there will be changes, such as a unique template (rather than the borrowed TRE design) and new name. Posting will be a bit more informal than Radio Equalizer readers have come to know, the idea is to bring examples to the site more quickly as they occur on-air. It could also be used to discuss stock-specific developments.

CNBC staffers are clearly working hard through this economic crisis and probably aren't especially interested in fresh criticism of their work. Some have even maintained a high degree of professionalism through this year's meltdown.

But that's what the Internet is all about, providing checks and balances to the mainstream media. This site is needed because it doesn't already exist out there somewhere else. But whether it continues will depend on your interest level.

For now, consider this: the world is NOT coming to an end, panic selling is NOT a good idea and anyone who underestimates the resilience of the American economy should expect to be proven wrong once again.

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