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Summary:

So, am I right in assuming that a lot of you have already seen the culmination of the on-air feud between Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer last night? If not, I would recommend checking out the full interview at Comedy Central’s web site, and check out […]

jonstewartSo, am I right in assuming that a lot of you have already seen the culmination of the on-air feud between Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer last night?

If not, I would recommend checking out the full interview at Comedy Central’s web site, and check out the background context, via a simple “Jim Cramer” keyword search on YouTube, if you’re not familiar with what’s been going on. Here’s the short version: Jon Stewart called out all of CNBC for shoddy financial reporting in a lengthy montage, Jim Cramer took personal offense, John fired back at him, specifically, then Jim went on John’s show and basically got eaten alive. Believe me, I’m not doing it justice.

You might be thinking “I thought this was an Apple blog, because of the name,” but bear with me, there is an Apple angle to last night’s events. During the interview, Jon is continually backing Cramer into a corner and then playing a clip of something he said earlier that completely contradicts or points out the absurdity of what he just said to Jon. During one of these clips, taken from a 2006 interview on TheStreet.com, Cramer mentions Apple by name. And not just briefly, as a throwaway example. He mentions Apple as an example of a company where manipulating buzz around a product is simple, and will definitely affect stock pricing.

Why is this so? Cramer infers that it is because of people like us, who devour any shred of Apple news or information with such zest and zeal that letting slip a simple hint that AT&T and Verizon aren’t interested in Apple’s then-upcoming iPhone would catch like wildfire, and share prices would tumble as a result. Aside from Cramer’s very concrete example, I can think of at least a dozen other times when this sort of thing has happened, and suddenly rumors that later prove to be false take on a more sinister character, since they might be misdirection instead of just accidental misinformation.

It would be easy to accept the role of the patsy in these circumstances, the unwilling conduit of information. But really, I can’t help but feel that I deserve at least part of the blame Stewart is laying on Cramer’s shoulders, since we bloggers often put entertainment before more serious concerns of what cumulative effect our pieces might have, taken together. Also, I really just don’t like the feeling that I’m being used as a plaything by financial gamers.

So what’s the answer? Not to refrain from producing content, obviously. The Apple user community is a rich and vibrant one, and participating in that discussion is too valuable to give up. Instead, we should do what Stewart suggests Cramer do, and be more critical about the information we receive. It’s less about what we report, than how we report it. Too often dubious rumors get reported as the gospel truth, without disclaimer. That’s just as bad as Cramer passively taking for granted every word out of a CEO’s mouth.

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  1. The Stewart/Cramer bit has been interesting, with Stewart taking on the role of the seasoned journalist, despite the fact that he’s the anchor of what he repeatedly calls a “fake” newscast. That said, I’m glad to read what you said about taking more responsibility and running disclaimers. But there’s more to it than just that. I know this is a blog, not a major newspaper, but followup research and level-headedness in reportage helps keep rumors from taking on a sense of gospel truth. Sure, it takes a bit longer to get the story out, thus delaying the gratification inherent in posting awesome stuff, but isn’t that need for instant gratification (“I want my house NOW regardless of whether or not I can really afford one!”) part of what got us in this mess in the first place? (I emphasize “part” because, I believe it’s the greed and need for instant gratification on the part of many bankers and brokers that is the primary driving force behind our current crisis.)

    I’m not trying to slam anyone — just hoping to participate in some dialogue. Thanks to Darrell and everyone here at the Apple Blog for great work over the years.

  2. Darrell,

    It’s refreshing to see a post of such humility. I think you’re right that we could all use more discretion when it comes to financial rumors, but I’ve never felt that The Apple Blog has really led anyone astray. Most Apple rumors, at least to me, are pure entertainment. The excitement about the possibility is what makes it interesting, not what it might do to my (admittedly tiny) portfolio.

    It’s pretty clear that this isn’t a financial news site, and I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like, “Get out and buy some Apple/AT&T/whoever stock!” You’re just sharing the geekery, so don’t feel too bad.

    Nevertheless, I appreciate that you’re paying attention. Thanks for your reflection and application of the Steward/Cramer smackdown, and keep up the great Apple news!

  3. Chad W Smith Friday, March 13, 2009

    Wow. I knew that Apple leveraged the rumor mill for things like test ballooning their ideas and stuff like that – but I never thought about the affect these (sometimes idiotic) rumors had on stock prices.

    It would be interesting to go back and see what effect rumors had on the stock price. Like did the stock go up when this latest “Apple 10″ netbook” rumor surfaced? Did it tank when the Mac Mini is dead lie came back (again, and again)? I mean, I get sick of the endless Photoshop scams – but to think that they could have that “sinister tone” you refer to – to think that they cost real people real money… That makes me want to stop blogging about them myself. Like altogether – rumor or fact….

    Scary stuff that.

  4. neil buckley Friday, March 13, 2009

    Kramer implies, not infers.

  5. Too bad Stewert doesn’t hold the same contempt for the people who actually caused the economy to crash.

  6. As a big Apple fan, I find it thoroughly annoying to be bombarded with phoney news that is just plain wrong 5 times a day. Discussions on what people would *like* is completely cool, but taking a wild rumour and publishing as even possible serious news is BS. As I run a Mac User Group I take it as my official [unpaid] job to try and weed out as much truth as I can and focus on it, and then moderate how much crap other people bring up. I like to assume bloggers such as yourselves do the same. But hey, I %&$@ it up too.

    @Chuck – do you regularly watch the Daily Show? Jon Stewart has a time proven record of taking on anyone willing to appear on his show. He will also call out anyone he can get a handle on. He’s famous for that exact reason. So what is it you want him to do? Bearing in mind that he is not a regulator, a politician, or a news agency. He’s a guy – a comedian – with a platform whos opinions have no power other than to call it as he sees it.

  7. Somehow I doubt this will change the news cycle here at all.

  8. While I enjoy watching Cramer every night, one must remember the show is primarily entertainment. The financial networks exist to promote their advertisers financial and investment products. Who would expect them to warn about the credit bubble or coming Washington national debt collapse which will destroy much of the remaining private wealth in America today or what this will do to the dollar, the stock market, bonds, gold or the real estate market?

    China is now worried about their dangerous over investment in US Treasury obligations. Washington ’s long-term choice is either repudiation or monetization. For monetization to be effective, the depreciation in the dollar would have to be substantial and this in turn would dramatically raise prices of imports for American consumers which would mean a tremendous drop in foreign imports. Debt monetization would cause more disruption to exporting nations than selective repudiation of Treasury debt.

    The Campaign to Cancel the Washington National Debt By 12/22/2013 Constitutional Amendment is starting now in the U.S. See: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=67594690498&ref=ts

    Thanks,

    Ron with 30 plus years in the investment business and banking industry.

  9. @undeadbydawn,

    If you believe as I do that high energy prices and collapse of the credit market caused the economic mess that we are in, then you might look for the cause of those things. Stewart is remarkably uncurious about the Community Reinvestment Act, nor does he care that we allow foreign nations sway over our energy prices because we are to stupid to develop our own energy sources. Stewart is not for the every man, Stewart is for the liberal man. Which is fine with me, but I don’t agree with him.

  10. robertsoakes Sunday, March 15, 2009

    Thank you for a very refreshing piece of commentary. If anything, what the Cramer versus Steward shows is that our public financing system is completely broken. It is founded on growth and there comes a time when it becomes almost impossible to continually grow. Microsoft is a really good example of this point. Apple’s iPod business is another good example. As a result, there is a feeling of false disappointment and the stock price invariably falls.

    The wild ride of Apple’s stock price over the past two years is a really good example. Apple was the beneficiary of hype and wild rumors and then the victim of inflated expectations. When I checked the stock price this morning, it was at the about the same level as it was in 2007. In the same time, Apple successfully entered a new market and expanded their Mac/applications business. WTF? (And for the record, I know a recession is on and everyone’s stocks are down. But Apple is a microcosm of larger problems. This isn’t an Apple issue, per se — though they are extremely adept at exploiting it. If Wall Street hadn’t completely lost their sense of reality, we would probably be experiencing a minor recession rather than a quasi depression.)

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