Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble, this witches brew it does o’er take, truth and liberty to forsake. Witches brew and media make, a boiling cauldron at the stake. Doth Geithner go or Geithner stay, this hell-cooked brew may rue the day.
With apologies to Mr. Shakespeare, we’ve taken the liberty of revising Act IV Scene I of Macbeth to demonstrate how society, faced with a common fear may be stirred to frenzy, panic and mass hysteria by the mob-mentality of the media. We speak of course, about the attacks on Tim Geithner and the recent fuss about retention bonuses at AIG.
Tim Geithner has, as Secretary of the Treasury not merely inherited the mistakes of his predecessor, but the hatred and vilification of the office he holds, created by media madness in the waning days of the prior Administration. Unlike any of the men who’ve held that position since the 18th century, Mr. Geithner faces the greatest range of challenges, and one might say, even greater ones that those of Alexander Hamilton, who was charged with creating the nation’s financial systems.
He’s been vilified in the media since before he took office and blamed for everything under the sun, from toxic assets to credit default swaps and subprime lending. In fact, he’s doing his job and whether you believe he’s doing it well or not, that job will take time.
Media idiots, including some on CNBC who quite frankly should know better, have attempted to crucify him in the public’s mind and have created a “let’s tar and feather him” attitude among many, including politicians in his own party.
To set the record straight, Mr. Geithner did not have responsibility, as President of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, to regulate AIG’s development of credit default swaps. No-one did and that was the problem. There was no clearing process in place to check what AIG was doing or to regulate it.
Subprime lending started while Mr. Geithner was in college, so of course, the media feels obliged to blame him, rather than the media themselves, the bankers, mortgage brokers, investment bankers, bond brokers, and others who played a far more important role, as did the American public themselves. But of course, it would be much easier for Erin Burnett or Rebecca “Becky” Quick to try to rip apart this well-intentioned man.
Like Shakespeare’s witches, these two have made, along with Larry Kudlow and others on that network, unfair and inappropriate claims seeking solely to drive up their ratings on Mr. Geithner’s good reputation and hard work for this country. They’ve complained about is income, his tax errors and blamed him at every possible turn. Yet he’s done nothing harmful to them and indeed granted them exclusive interviews for CNBC.
Mr. Geithner, like him or not, has an extremely delicate and sensitive job to do for this nation and having a bunch of witches create trouble for him right now seems to be the most unpatriotic, un-American and irresponsible thing possible. Have these so-called professionals considered for a moment what would happen if he did as they’ve actually suggested, resign?
For one thing, the markets around the world would go into a free-fall panic and the DOW would probably drop below 5,000 within a week.
For another, every step taken so far, and every penny taxpayers have spent trying to restore confidence and rebuild economic calamity would have been wasted as the banks and companies that have received such funds crash in the maelstrom such a resignation most assuredly would cause.
The financial and general media, as much to blame for this mess as anyone else, must learn to report financial news without the screaming, infantile, political antics this rabble-rousing mob seems to employ each and every day.
Yesterday, while interviewing Rep. Charles Rangel about taxes on the AIG bonuses, the subject was completely changed to Mr. Rangel’s own tax problems rather than staying on focus.
Speaking of AIG’s bonuses, there too CNBC’s triad of witches and warlocks have brought the cauldron to a boil; ignoring the fact that the retention bonuses were to compensate those executives needed by Mr. Liddy to help unravel the mess. The AIG staff that created the Credit Default Swap crisis have already left or been extricated from AIG and their departure necessitates the presence of those individuals who were being paid these retention bonuses to stay and clean up the mess.
As taxpayers, we must accept that there will be a cost borne to clean up any mess, but certainly in this case, the sum of $165 Million, compared to $190 Billion is less than 1 percent… a miniscule sum to pay.
Should this or any other media outlet in America focus on blame or solutions? It would seem to us that playing the blame game, as these reporters and anchors have done produces only self-serving benefits, with nothing for the greater good of the nation or the taxpaying public. There will be time for blame, including those in the media who had opportunity to expose the factors leading to this crisis for years and did nothing, but this is the time for everyone to focus solely on creating and reporting sound solutions to help the global economy recover. Anything less is simply irresponsible.
Sitting there on television, they’ve brewed up so much mass hysteria about bonuses that one must wonder whether they themselves should be paid any bonuses by GE, while that company is in its own financial difficulty as parent of CNBC. So Larry, Becky, Erin and Carl, are you willing to take a haircut for the company or the Nation and forego any benefits, perks or bonuses? Certainly after you’ve asked such stupid questions as “What’s it like to be a billionaire?” to Robert Allen Stanford, a man who operated a financial scam, it would seem you have an obligation to Americans, and particularly his victims to fork out some of your own personal income.
Wouldn’t it be fair to Americans for Erin, who once said after President Obama was in office less than 12 days “What are they waiting for? They’ve had since November to figure this out” as the Senate debated Mr. Geithner’s approval as Secretary of the Treasury. Shouldn’t she have enough professional savvy to know it took 15 years or more to make this crisis, and unless she’s using her magic wand, this crisis isn’t going away in 12 days or 12 months. Particularly if the financial media reports as immaturely as she did in that piece.
Of course Larry, the all-knowing warlock of the pack seems perfectly suited to throw one barb after another to complain about what any legislator on either side of the aisle might say, yet he’s not investigating any possible solutions, nor offering any answers about anything, only challenges and hyperbole. Larry, let’s hear you earn those gold cufflinks and those silk ties with some hypothesis.
Come on CNBC, let’s try some responsible financial journalism, without the witchcraft. You know, it’s human nature for those who are the most guilty to point the finger of blame at anyone else, innocent or not, to escape their own punishment. So beware CNBC, your reporters and anchors may find themselves pointing the finger at each other and inciting the public to tar and feather not Mr. Geithner, but Cramer and Kudlow.
Oh, and Bob Pisani and Rick Santelli… you’re okay… so far. At least you both speak truthfully.
Gall of goat, and slips of yew,
it’s Cramer they’re going after too.
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
this cauldron’s boiling away the truth.
Of clarity and honesty they dare not speak,
for ratings come not from fact, but pique.
To speak the truth they’d need do work,
reporting facts, not being a jerk.
To learn what lies beneath covers and the paper sheets,
reporters spy upon their beats.
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
these media fools treat the good like a dog.
In the cauldron, boil and bake,
how much more can people take?
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
just speak the truth and let it ring!