First, between CNBC and CNN, I've been on television several dozen times over the last year or so. Thursday was the first day I really laid into somebody.
I'm not proud of it because I'm not a bully. Nor do I feel vindicated because, quite frankly, it makes no difference to me if I end up right or wrong on the Netflix issue. I care about the story. And I do my best to get it right, which includes telling as much of it as I can.That's not the case with Wall Street analysts. It's part of their gig to "build the bull" or "bear" case for a stock. CNBC produces several segments throughout its day where they set the scene exactly this way. In fact, they often pit a bullish and bearish analyst against one another in what they call a "Street Fight." This bull vs. bear dichotomy is not good for investors, at least not insofar as Wall Street analysts are involved. It's one thing for you and I to get together and treat companies and stocks like sports teams. It's entirely another when that's the way analysts on Wall Street -- who have the explicit job description of analyzing companies and making calls on their stocks -- conduct themselves. And even though Barton Crockett of Lazard isn't the most animated guy in the world, he's a perfect example of an analyst doing a disservice to the public -- and potentially his clients -- by focusing everything he does, at least publicly, on building his bull case. It's akin to an academic researcher collecting only the data he or she knows will tilt the results the way he or she wants them to go. I've seen Crockett on CNBC before. And I have seen countless others get a pass on CNBC and elsewhere for doing what he did on Thursday. I'm almost ashamed to say that I probably was going to allow the same thing happen again -- I'm not one for conflict -- but something Crockett said (and what he didn't say) set me off.
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