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Rule No. 21: Be a TV Critic

Editor's note: Jim Cramer's new book, Real Money: Sane Investing in an Insane World, is available in selected bookstores now. As a special bonus to RealMoney readers, we will be running Cramer's "Twenty-Five Rules of Investing." For more about the new book and to order it, click here. Today, we present Cramer's twenty-first rule of investing. Read more about his rules:

  1. Pigs Get Slaughtered
  2. It's OK to Pay the Taxes
  3. Don't Buy All at Once
  4. Buy Damaged Stocks
  5. Diversify to Control Risk
  6. Do Your Homework
  7. Don't Panic
  8. Buy Best-of-Breed
  9. Defend Some Stocks
  10. Don't Bet on Bad Stocks
  11. Don't Own Too Many Names
  12. Cash Is for Winners
  13. No Woulda, Shoulda, Couldas
  14. Expect Corrections
  15. Watch Bonds
  16. Don't Subsidize Losers
  17. Check Hope at the Door
  18. Be Flexible
  19. Quit When Execs Do
  20. Patience Is a Virtue


Do you know how financial television really works?

I'll tell you. At times, it can just be a gigantic booking machine. That's right, people are scrambling to get money managers on who can talk, almost regardless of how good they are. And lots of times, executives say whatever they want on air, knowing that they can get away with it.

I accept this as a given. I accept that what I hear on television is probably right, but no more than that. That's the world in which we live. That's the reason I follow this tenet:

Just because someone says it on TV doesn't make it so.

Not long ago, a money manager came on television and knocked down Sirius (SIRI) by saying some negative things about it, some of which were true. I accepted the fact that he was short it and that he probably shorted the stock right before he went on and that probably what he said wasn't right. Did you think he was right?

I think you are naive if you simply believe what you hear. The vetting process to get on television simply isn't all that rigorous. When a manager says he likes EMC (EMC) or Sun Microsystems (SUNW), do you ask yourself where he bought it? Do you think he might be selling it?

When someone comes on and says that Elan (ELN) is a buy, do you think, "He's really stuck in that pig"?

If you answered yes to these inquiries, then you are armed for the daily chatter.

1. Pigs Get Slaughtered 2. It's OK to Pay the Taxes
3. Don't Buy All at Once 4. Buy Damaged Stocks
5. Diversify to Control Risk 6. Do Your Homework
7. Don't Panic 8. Buy Best-of-Breed
9. Defend Some Stocks 10. Don't Bet on Bad Stocks
11. Own Fewer Names 12. Cash Is for Winners
13. No Regrets 14. Expect Corrections
15. Know Bonds 16. Don't Subsidize Losers
17. No Room for Hope 18. Be Flexible
19. Quit When Execs Do 20. Patience Is a Virtue
21. Be a TV Critic
Check back for more of Cramer's Rules

James J. Cramer is a director and co-founder of TheStreet.com. He contributes daily market commentary for TheStreet.com's sites and serves as an adviser to the company's CEO. Outside contributing columnists for TheStreet.com and RealMoney.com, including Cramer, may, from time to time, write about stocks in which they have a position. In such cases, appropriate disclosure is made. To see his personal portfolio and find out what trades Cramer will make before he makes them, sign up for Action Alerts PLUS by clicking here. While he cannot provide personalized investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to send comments on his column to jjcletters@thestreet.com. Listen to Cramer's RealMoney Radio show on your computer; just click here. Watch Cramer on "Mad Money" at 6 p.m. EST weeknights on CNBC. Click here to order Cramer's latest book, "Real Money: Sane Investing in an Insane World," click here to get his second book, "You Got Screwed!" and click here to order Cramer's autobiography, "Confessions of a Street Addict."

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