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Warren Buffett CEO Porn Gone Wild

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It's that time of year. The media is turning its collective eyes to Omaha, where Warren Buffett has just issued his annual letter to shareholders, preparatory to the annual ritual of the Berkshire Hathaway investor meeting in May. It's like that old Cole Porter song, "I Concentrate on You," with the "you" being the Sage of Omaha and the "I" being the press.

Welcome to CEO porn season, Berkshire Hathaway edition. "CEO porn" is inside-baseball journalism terminology that I would define as "overemphasis on the (ghost-written) writings and overhyped achievements of chief executive officers, with negative or contrary elements given little or no attention." I respect Buffett as much as the next journo. I've met him and found him charming and likable. I've been a customer of his insurance and (until recently) candy subsidiaries for decades.

But enough already! The Warren Buffett CEO Porn epidemic is getting out of hand. I beg my colleagues in the media: Make it stop.

This year, the fascination with every word emanating from Buffett is even more embarrassingly lavish than usual, and the reason is not that Buffett has been especially prescient or skillful in the preceding year. In fact, as I'll be coming to in a moment, one of the pronouncements in his shareholder letter was downright goofy. The cause of the media's hyperfocus has been totally predictable: An 81-year-old CEO may be handing over the reins of Berkshire Hathaway any time now.

The hand-wringing over this in the media has been remarkable. It's as if the media were suffering from a kind of premature separation anxiety. What makes it ludicrous is the fact that his deputy, Charlie Munger, is old enough to be a World War II veteran, which he is. Compounding the absurdity is that Buffett, utilizing a false-suspense trick straight out of vaudeville-era press agentry, has said the Berkshire board has picked his successor, but that his lips are sealed.





Why, for heaven's sake? I think he won't identify his successor -- something that, by the way, his shareholders have every right to demand that he disclose -- because he loves the publicity that comes from the successor speculation, which combines the solemnity of a meeting of the College of Cardinals after the death of a pope with the pretentiousness of David O. Selznick's search for Scarlett O'Hara in the 1930s.

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