A Look Inside the Inner Sanctum

Isn't it odd that short-sellers often lobby journalists to push their positions, but owners themselves aren't supposed to talk up their positions?
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That darn media-short-seller game plan is out in full force in this weekend's Barron's, and the focus is America Online (AOL) . This time, the handoff is from Doug Kass to Alan Abelson, and they are trying to go in for 6 points down.

They've got the goods on AOL this time. Devastating stuff: insider selling, price competition,

Microsoft's

(MSFT) - Get Report

wake-up call, high-speed connections. Yep, as solid a recap of the straw men

Jim Seymour

brought out last week as I have seen in

Barron's

.

With these futures and this negativity, I figure Kass-to-Abelson-to-

Barron's

-to-

CNBC

may be headed to the end zone. Except we have seen these game films. We know that Abelson's effect is very limited these days.

Unless he is bashing me as "proprietor" of

TSC

, which he calls "Street.com," he doesn't have much clout anymore. (He has it with our stock because most people would not believe that a columnist at a major publication would use his lead prominence to bash simply because he doesn't like somebody -- namely, me.)

That's why I am willing to take on the phalanx of Kass-to-Abelson-to-

Barron's

-to-

CNBC

with bids in

Instinet

underneath the stock. I have heard all of these objections. It is why the stock has already been cut nearly in half. This dog has already hunted.

Of course, I am long, and you could argue that I am just trying to bolster my position. But before you make that judgment, what is Kass (a good man, by the way) doing other than bolstering his short position by using Abelson? I always thought it was quite unusual that it is accepted practice that short-sellers (as well as long buyers) could lobby influential journalists to push their positions, but owners themselves aren't supposed to talk up their positions.

I'm talking up mine. I think Abelson's anti-Net rap, bolstered by the usual army of short-sellers, is painful and wrong. If I were a short-seller, I would use Abelson as a chance to bring my short in.

Oops, that's how the game is played. I forgot. I am not supposed to reveal the secrets of the inner trader-to-journalist sanctum.

Ooh, is Abelson gonna bash me now.

Random musings:

Red Hots never disappoint when it comes to stock management. You come in this morning and boom, you get split announcements from

Harmonic

(HLIT) - Get Report

and

Conexant

(CNXT) - Get Report

! No wonder they call these Red Hots! You don't see split announcements out of

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

or

John Deere

(DE) - Get Report

. You don't get rewarded instantly like that with an

Anheuser-Busch

(BUD) - Get Report

or a

Black & Decker

.

Of course, it can be a double-edged sword. We are long some Broadcom this morning, and I wish we weren't because it may be the loser in this

General Instrument

(GIC)

-

Motorola

(MOT)

deal. As usual, there is little bottom to a Red Hot when things go badly.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long America Online, Microsoft, Broadcom, JDS Uniphase, Juniper, VeriSign, Qualcomm, Redback and Motorola. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at

jjcletters@thestreet.com.

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