Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Economists and Progressives Say Fix CNBC!

A group of progressives and economists are building on the schooling of CNBC and Jim Cramer by Jon Stewart by petitioning CNBC producers to stop being a PR firm  for Wall Street and  start doing real, investigative journalism of the financial world that protects consumers and ordinary investors.  You can join  the effort here.

UPDATE: Now CNBC is saying the AIG bonuses are “no big deal” even as AIG has had to increase security outside its offices.  These folks  are completely out of touch.

Initial  signatories include:

Dean Baker, economist  and Director of the Center for Economic Research and author of Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy.

Lawrence Mishel,  President of the Economic Policy Institute. (EPI is a really good group whose economic expertise has informed myself and many other Christian theological ethicists who work on economic justice issues.)

Doug Henwood, Economic journalist and author of Wall Street and After the New Economy.

Eric Burns, President of Media Matters for America (This is the premier organization in the battle for media  reform in the U.S.A.)

Peter Hart, Activism Director, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).

Linda Jue, Director of the G. W. Williams Center for Independent Journalism.

Tracy Van  Slyke, Project Director of The Media Consortium

Don Hazen, Executive Director, Independent  Media Institute

Robert  Borosage and Roger Hickey, Co-Directors, Campaign for America’s Future.

Justin Rubin, Executive Director  of  MoveOn.org

Markos Moulitsas, Founder of DailyKos.com

James Rucker, Executive Director of  ColorofChange.org

Adam Green  and Stephanie Taylor, Co-founders, Progress Change Campaign Committee

Aaron Swartz, Co–creator of Reddit and RSS and Co-founder of Progressive Change Campaign Committee

Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law at Stanford University Law School and  Co-founder of Change Congress.

Todd Gitlin, Professor of Journalism and Sociology and Chair of the Department of Communications, Columbia University.

Christopher Hayes, Washington Editor  of The Nation (one of the few publications that really DOES have a “liberal media  bias” and has for over 100 years because it doesn’t take advertising and  so has no corporate masters).

Eric Alterman, Professor of Journalism at Brooklyn College and at CUNY Graduate School  of Journalism and Fellow  at the Center for American Progress (CAP).

Tom Geoghegan, Labor Lawyer and public interest lawyer and author of numerous economic policy related books  such as the best-selling, Which Side Are You On? (Tom also just ran and lost in the VERY CROWDED Democratic primary for the vacated Congressional  seat of Rahm Emmanuel, IL’s 5th district, now that Emmanuel is White House Chief of Staff. I hope he tries again for public office.)

Heather Boushey, Senior Economist for the Center for American Progress (CAP).

Eileen Applebaum, Professor and Director of the Center for Women and Work, Rutgers University.

Sylvia Allegretto,  Economist at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California at Berkeley.

Chris Rabb, Founder and Chief Evangelist  of Afro-Netizen.com and Demos Fellow

Philip Anderson, founder of TheAlbanyProject.com (a blog on New York state politics)

Ian Welsh, economist and economics blogger and former Managing Editor of Firedoglake.com (a major progressive news blog–one of the earliest to dig deep into the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame by the Bush admin. Firedoglake was WAY ahead of the mainstream media and reporters from the latter started reading Firedoglake.com to catch up!!)

Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland and Before the Storm (both essential reading for understanding contemporary American politics).

Garlin Gilgrist II, blogger at TheSuperSpade.com

John Amato, founder of CrooksandLiars.com

Joe Sudbay, Deputy Editor of AMERICAblog

Josh Silver, Executive Director, The Free Press

March 16, 2009 - Posted by | economic justice, media reform


  1. I am continuously amazed by some of the things that appear on television. There really isn’t any accounting for taste in a lot of instances. Sex, violence,weight loss,get rich quick schemes, mediums who purport to talk to dead people,apocalyptic programs ad nauseum and “feel good gurus” seem to predominate or is it that my perception is erroneous? Cramer is a vexation to the spirit, but I don’t give Jon Stewart that much praise either !

    Comment by Paul | March 16, 2009

  2. Just blogged on this point precisely….goodgodforus.com

    Comment by Daniel Weiner | March 16, 2009

  3. This is such an insincere gesture. CNBC is a stock market channel for stock traders in need of headlines. It is not there to uncover the underlying problems with the bond market and regulatory authorities. They have limited discussions of the economy with anchors and guests explicitly from all sides. They deliver headlines and stock buy and SELL recommendations.
    Stewart cherry-picked silly unrelated clips to make a silly point as though CNBC could have figured out what the “crooks” (Goldman, Citibank, Freddie, Fannie, Greenspan, Bernanke) themselves couldn’t and further that somehow the crisis is their fault. Why are the calls not for NYTimes and the WSJ to have uncovered these supposed misdeeds? Are they too just cozying up to the CEO’s? Of course not becasue that is not what this is about. This is just the thought police administering punishment for criticizing the current administration and Santelli’s “loser” comment.
    Let’s hear how Geithner, president of NY fed didn’t stop this and now is not fixing it still. I’ll be waiting….

    Comment by stan | March 16, 2009

  4. […] to the Levellers blog where I found out about the […]

    Pingback by Help Jon Stewart school CNBC (take back the airwaves for real journalism) « OntheWilderSide | March 17, 2009

  5. Stan,
    I believe they could have figured out that things were wrong. As Stewart says, “In what universe was a 35% leverage EVER going to be sustainable?” I also think the WSJ, NYTimes and others should have done more investigative journalism on this. I have been harsh on the “paper of record” (The New York Times) ever since Judith Miller and the parroting of Bush talking points in the run up to the Iraq invasion.

    And if you were reading this blog, then, you would know that I have been skeptical of Geithner as Treasury Secretary. I have been skeptical of MANY of Obama’s cabinet picks. I THOUGHT that his worst pick was keeping Gates as Sec. of Defense, but I have begun to wonder if Geithner wasn’t a far worse pick. I think that Larry Summers and Tim Geithner between them are keeping the prez. from knowing that we need to nationalize the large banks temporarily in order to open their books, put forensic accountants on them, write down the bad assets and get SHAREHOLDERS (rather than taxpayers) to eat those losses.

    If Bernanke could be fired, I would be calling for his head. And I think Geithner should have prevented this, and I think he SHOULD have been fired.

    As for “thought police:” I think Santelli was to bear the brunt of Stewart’s push and should have–but Cramer jumped in and almost demanded to become the poster child for all that is wrong with the business news channels.

    CNBC, Bloomberg, should NOT be “stock market channels for stock traders in need of headlines.” They should be investigative channels–watchdogs for consumers and for mom and pop investors. That’s what ALL free press is there for–not to be PR for the powerful. The failure of much of the U.S. media to do these basic jobs is a big reason why so many newspapers are failing and why the ratings on network news is so bad. People still want the info–they just don’t trust the sources.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | March 17, 2009

  6. In what fictional world are mom and pop getting investment advice from CNBC? Its viewers are higher income male audiences who are invested and most often actively trading the markets. The advertisers are for luxury items and investment products. Its ratings are very low. Most mom and pops are not investing much at all or if they are they are participating in index funds on a monthly basis with little strategy for ever selling until retirement.

    CNBC knows its audience and serves it well. They talk markets. This suggested format change would yield nothing but the death of CNBC. People are desperate for a scapegoat right now. Santelli stepped up to the plate with the “losers” line, but he wasn’t talking about mom and pop “losers” but those who “added extra bathooms” on speculation and now get bailed out while more conservative investors have to pay for it. Santelli has been consistently against the bailouts all along and has argued with anchors and economists(Steve Liesman) on CNBC about the very issue before. As an investment professional, I actually watch, use, and understand CNBC unlike some “Jon”ny come lately critics.

    Comment by stan | March 17, 2009

  7. You say: “write down the bad assets and get SHAREHOLDERS (rather than taxpayers) to eat those losses. ”

    For clarity’s sake, the shareholders are almost entirely wiped out as it is, have you seen the share price for Citi? It’s the bondholders who will take the next hit, and those unknowing holders are the mom and pop’s you worry about: bond funds, pension funds, money market funds etc. They are the ones also being protected right now not just cartoonish “fat cats”.

    Comment by stan | March 17, 2009

  8. Shareholders in these failed banks and AIG may have worthless shares of these companies, now, but they are still rich. We can still make THEM and the management of these companies eat the losses. Some of the management also need to go to jail, I think.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | March 17, 2009

  9. “They should be investigative channels – watchdogs for consumers and for mom and pop investors. That’s what ALL free press is there for . . . ”

    The press exists to be an investigative body? The free press is in business to make money. The investigative pieces, or any other content for that matter, are just filler so that they can monetize their audience. Granted, the media outlets are having a more difficult time these days with a depressed advertising market. But make no mistake, the content of any media is just to draw you in for the advertisers . . . that was the model of the 20th Century and it continues today, although it is changing.

    All you have to do is look at the WSJ. Murdoch’s recent decree that it’s focus is on pushing news over the wire, not breaking long-lead investigative stories.

    If Murdoch won’t do it, there must not be any money in it for the media companies.

    And Stan is right, CNBC is a channel that covers the markets, first and foremost.

    Comment by Scott | April 6, 2009

  10. If the free press exists just to make money, if it does not have an importance to our democratic system, then journalists are no different than used car salesmen. We didn’t protect the rights of a free press in our First Amendment just so they could make money. There are not-for-profit news outlets, you know. Neither The Nation on the left, nor The National Review on the right, take any advertising.

    The attitude that this is all just for money is precisely what is WRONG with American news media, today. And it is a recent change. Even just a few years ago (early ’80s?) TV networks did not expect their news programs to make money, even though they sold advertising during those hours, too. The OTHER programs were to make money, not the news. It was enough to keep the news from losing money. This changed with CNN, the first 24/7 cable news network. At first, the news standards on CNN were very high (as they still are for CNN International–when abroad, I get much better journalism from CNN than here in the states)–until Ted Turner sold it. But the networks were forced to compete. Then everything became about the bottom line.

    But journalism, in its watchdog capacity, should trump profits–even if it must make money to survive. We don’t protect it from censorship in the First Amendment just so it can make money. CNBC, Fox Business, etc. FAILED in their job of investigating the markets and warning the people.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 6, 2009

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