Don't Just Blame the Net for Rumors

Cramer complains that <I>The Wall Street Journal</I> and <I>The New York Times</I> are doing their part in trafficking rumors.
Author:
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The Net always gets a bad rap for printing rumors. But the real rumors this week came from

The New York Times

, with its story on a supposed

America Online

(AOL)

-

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

deal, and

The Wall Street Journal

, with its Heard on the Street column on

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

being back in play for a possible merger.

What was with the

Times'

AOL-AT&T story? The speculation that the companies were getting together in an access deal was denied up and down by everybody -- immediately. Before the ink was even dry on the late editions. Totally discredited. Give me a break!

Where did this story come from? And where was the retraction? I didn't see any.

But this Merrill story in the

Journal

takes the cake. Did

Bud Fox call that one in? "Quick, get me some calls on Blue Star. I want the Auggie 25s. Position limit." Now it will be picked up by

CNBC

and the self-fulfilling circle begins.

I guess everybody is feeling the pressure to break stories that are right on the edge now that the space has gotten so competitive. The only thing that gets sacrificed is the truth. (Guess that's why we need

Truth Serum. Keep score,

TSC

!)

Ironically, I was hurt by the

Times

story, stuck holding the

Excite@Home

(ATHM) - Get Report

bag. But I am loaded to the gills with Merrill. Guess what I am doing today...

Random musings:

Big discounts on the secondaries priced today. That's good news for the buyers and will help the deals immensely. It may be the way of the future.

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, Excite@Home and Merrill Lynch. 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.