WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. (TheStreet) -- No sooner had American Airlines (AMR) gone soft white underbelly up and declared bankruptcy than the takeover rumors started. Only they weren't rumors...just analyst conjecture. And that's a difference that should be noted. Instead, it was flouted with this panting, titillating, over-the-top headline from Bloomberg: "US Airways Seen as Possible Merger Partner as AMR Restructures in Court."

Holy, Mackerel. You read this headline and you think a deal is going down, no? Well, no. At least, probably not. When it comes to merger articles, we usually have to decide whether anonymous sources are close to the talks, or are merely investment bankers or company officials trying to gin up some action.

Here? It's an old statement from US Airways CEO, who said in the spring that there might be another deal in the industry, plus the current words of a single analyst. Moreover, this

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analyst doesn't even say that a deal is afoot, only that American would benefit from one. What bankrupt entity wouldn't? Worse, American is then asked for their reaction and they respond that they "don't comment on rumors." Rumor? Who said an analyst stating the obvious was a rumor?

We see a lot of crazy reporting on prospective deals, but this one--especially considering the headline--might take the crazy cake.

At the time of publication, Fuchs had no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this column.

Marek Fuchs was a stockbroker for Shearson Lehman Brothers and a money manager before becoming a journalist who wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column for six years. He also did back-up beat coverage of The New York Knicks for the paper's Sports section for two seasons and covered other professional and collegiate sports. He has contributed frequently to many of the Times' other sections, including National, Metro, Escapes, Style, Real Estate, Arts & Leisure, Travel, Money & Business, Circuits and the Op-Ed Page.

For his "Business Press Maven" column on how business and finance are covered by the media, Fuchs was named best business journalist critic in the nation by the Talking Biz website at The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Fuchs is a frequent speaker on the business media, in venues ranging from National Public Radio to the annual conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

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