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Maven: Memory Lapse

<I>CNBC's</I> Erin Burnett embodies the worst of the business press in her interview with former analyst Henry Blodget.

The business media has finally done it, and at this point, there may be nothing my psycho-pharmacologist can do to help me. CNBC's lack of historical perspective and general giddiness actually forced me to laugh appreciatively at a comment by none other than that scourge of all decent investors, Henry Blodget.

God save us all.

Now, a lot of what The Business Press Maven writes about is directly actionable. The business media is getting this or that wrong, and since reality always catches up with misguided perceptions, there is opportunity in the gap between the two.

Here we must take a step back for larger understanding.


Well, I'm glad you asked that. Because the cause of so many of those misperceptions is an almost willful ignorance of history, even recent history -- and there has never been a better example. Even Blodget couldn't let it pass.

You might wonder why


would even interview Blodget at all. I did. The only time The Business Press Maven

even mentioned the scamp's name was to note that the only thing I cared less about than Blodget's blog was the opinion of imprisoned former



Chief Executive L. Dennis Kozlowski. There are many who feel that Blodget, who rode Internet hype to the heights of Wall Street in the 1990s, should be sharing a cell with Kozlowski. He became the poster boy for all the conflicts of interest, inaccuracies and self-dealing of Wall Street analysts.

I won't go there.

But look where


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Erin Burnett went in introducing Blodget.

First, she called him "a blast from the past." I would have called him a radioactive blast, but that's just a minor quibble.

Then, the true blast. Said Burnett: "Just want to make sure so viewers know -- most of them should know who you are, but of course you are the one who called for



to go to $400."

Then she threw it over to Blodget, who seemed to visibly blanch.

"Among other things, yeah," even Blodget was forced to say, before adding a somewhat bemused or forlorn "if only it were only that." (You can see the segment and be nauseated for yourself


If you ever doubt The Business Press Maven when he tells you how little of what the business press says is informed by an accurate sense of even recent history, think back to this moment. I have nothing else to say on this issue. Except that even Henry Blodget had to correct the historical record.

Oh, and one more thing. Erin, if The Business Press Maven's dreaded "Back of the Hand" award had not already been invented, I would have invented it special for this circumstance.

As for my weekly Business Press Maven "Nod of Approval" award, as you know, I rarely give it out to a writer from

, if only to avoid charges of favoritism. But this week Rob Lenihan came up with a simple little twist of language that puts a misperception to rest, thus helping investors think clearly about the Christmas shopping season.

For his big effort in a small change, I hand him the coveted award.

As Business Press Maven readers know, I have been

highly critical of the long-held assumption that Black Friday is the start of the Christmas shopping season or that it's even all that essential to it. The Christmas season has morphed in recent years, stretching longer, thanks to the Internet and retailers anticipating Black Friday, thus running sales for the several weeks beforehand. Moreover, so high are the discounts on Black Friday that no investor can get an accurate read on the season's profits from coverage of shoppers grabbing for goods in the crowds and then pulling back hands that are bloody stumps.

To this change,

Lenihan brings important new language. In referring to Black Friday, he calls it "the so-called official kickoff of the holiday season."

So-called. It is commonly acknowledged to be. But it ain't.

If Lenihan is not there to guide you toward reality with his smart word choice, please slap a "so-called" on that kickoff mention yourself.

And one last thing before I cry myself to sleep over the Blodget tragedy.

We've heard all week about how



is firing and hiring high-level political public relations personnel. (

Do those folks really qualify as people? Just asking.

) But a word to the wise: Unless the issue of merchandising is mentioned in the article, it won't matter whether Lee Atwater comes back from the beyond to start spinning for Wal-Mart.

To paraphrase another great political spinner: It's the merchandising, stupid.

A journalist with a background on Wall Street, Marek Fuchs has written the County Lines column for The New York Times for the past five years. He also contributes regular breaking news and feature stories to many of the paper's other sections, including Metro, National and Sports. Fuchs was the editor-in-chief of, a financial Web site twice named "Best of the Web" by Forbes Magazine. He was also a stockbroker with Shearson Lehman Brothers in Manhattan and a money manager. He is currently writing a chapter for a book coming out in early 2007 on a really embarrassing subject. He lives in a loud house with three children. Fuchs appreciates your feedback;

click here

to send him an email.