State of the Union

With the drama of the political conventions behind us, hopefully, I can get back to focusing on getting stuff done.  Following the election too closely leads me to echo that great Will Ferrell line from Zoolander: “I FEEL LIKE I’M TAKING CRAZY PILLS!”

Perhaps this country has always been this way but I am simply astounded at the gross failure of the fourth estate: the media.  I don’t want to delve too deep into this as regular readers know my thoughts on the upcoming election and I wish to keep the blog from veering too deeply into partisan matters.

But all readers should take note: THE MEDIA’S FAILURE IS NOT JUST IN COVERING POLITICAL MATTERS.  In fact, the media is absolutely dreadful in covering cultural and financial areas.  In fact, the financial coverage is problematic in that the majority of “credible” financial news coverage is controlled by one corporation (News Corp via Dow Jones).  Since Murdoch took over the Wall Street Journal, I find myself spending less time reading the daily WSJ.  The front page is almost as non-essential as the Weekend Journal these days due to the expanded political coverage and more skimpy global coverage.  And of course, we are subjected to monthly cover proclamations of oil or commodity bubbles in the WSJ’s sister publication, Barron’s.

Listening to Jim Puplava’s Financial Sense show this weekend, I was surprised to hear the hosts wax so indignantly about alleged intervention in the commodity markets and especially precious metals.  Well, of course there’s intervention in the gold and silver markets!  It is in no one’s interest (especially the privileged class) to see the US dollar melt down.  Would you expect to see the government and the monied interests stand by and watch the foundation of their power erode without response?  Hence, the daily declarations of oil bubble this, gold bubble that, just enough to make people hesitate to buy as they take down the gold/oil price 20-40%.

And are there any more insecure media consumers than investors worried about their money?  As such, we are treated to an endless stream of strategists pontificating in error time and time again and yet always invited back to share their views.  Or we get money managers talking their book, which for the most part, is self-serving (there are some exceptions like Bill Gross of PIMCO who is so obviously talking his book that it’s basically transparent as opposed to money managers talking up their poorly performing stocks and keeping mum on their best ideas).

But perhaps the worst example of the media’s inadequacy comes courtesy of the Journal’s Peggy Noonan, now the poster child for an agenda media — i.e. writing stories/editorials to advance a specific narrative even if the writer believes otherwise.  Just compare Noonan’s off-the-record remarks from MSNBC to her column penned for WSJ that very same day — a clear case of publishing one opinion while believing another.  Her weak appended explanation for those remarks almost serves as a closing argument against the vitality of traditional media.

Perhaps the decline of newspapers has as much to do with quality, or lackthereof, as much as it has to do with new mediums.  Before the advent of the Internet, consumers had little choice but to rely on traditional news outlets no matter how poor they prepared readers for the outside world.  Nowadays, smart consumers know that the best information (i.e. tomorrow’s news) is available if you know where to look and thus, we have less use for traditional outlets that seemingly serve mostly as propoganda outlets.  But until new media sources are given the same weight as the major networks, publications, etc., traditional media will play a major role in shaping the American narrative and that is very dangerous, not just to our portfolios but to our society.

Leave a Reply