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TheStreet Open House

JCP: How Can We Believe Anything Bill Ackman Says?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I don't need to cite a whole bunch of links. If you're a human in the world -- even a non-stock-junkie human, somebody who doesn't live and breathe this stuff -- you know the story well. For months, Bill Ackman touted his investment in J.C. Penney (JCP), effectively blowing off everything that was wrong with the company and Ron Johnson's tenure as CEO.

Now, when even the most delusional of Earth dwellers can't argue with the contention that JCP is a national disgrace, Ackman comes out swinging. The other day he admitted Johnson was a disaster. Friday morning I saw he chided RJ for flying around the country instead of regularly showing his face at Penney's Plano, Texas, headquarters.

On one hand, it's obvious to say, how can we believe anything this guy says? It's equally as obvious that he's playing the game. He has a position -- a big one -- in a company and, while he likely beat the hell out of people behind the scenes -- he kept a good public face. That's just what people do.

They routinely do something we rarely refer to as lying. Something I would never refer to as lying because I am supposed to be an objective journalist, plus I don't like being sued. But, let's cut through the bologna . . .

You mean to tell me that when he was being bullish and supporting Johnson on television, Ackman didn't realize his investment, the company and the CEO amounted to little more than a pile of stink? He merely came to that epiphany after Johnson got axed and went into something resembling damage control?

We accept this as obvious, as the standard way of doing business and the going status quo. As such, we exonerate it as OK. That's just not good.

Do people like Ackman have any responsibility, particularly when they're in the news and on CNBC ever six seconds, to tell it like it is? A reasonable human could believe that Ackman wasn't feeling all that great about Johnson and JCP at the same time as he was pumping the stock and providing votes of confidence on national television.

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