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 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 (s AAPL) 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 (s T) and Verizon (s VZ) 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.