On the Subject of CriticismLet me end by moving away from the New York Post column and write in general about my ideas and concepts regarding the role of criticism in the media and of those talking heads (myself included) who appear in the media. All of us can be better at what we do; we can always improve on the quality of our job performance. This is particularly true as it relates to the investment business, in which the mosaic and narrative are complex, ever changing and nonlinear. Relatedly, Gail Collins quotes Gloria Steinem in Sunday's New York Times editorial op-ed section: "We're so accustomed to narratives, we expect there's going to be a conclusion, or explanation or answer to the secret.... And probably the answer is, there isn't." I can always manage money better, I can always improve on my analysis, and I can gain greater objectivity. Similarly, all of the business media can always improve upon their delivery of the news. I frequently try to be self-critical of myself in my diary on Real Money Pro, often trying to plot how to do it better. And I am not shy in giving my opinion how others should do a better job -- always in a respectful way. As an example, in my recent column " I Don't Know," I emphasized the importance and need of more rigorous analysis over the attraction of instantaneous entertainment in the business media:
The fact is that snark (a combination of snide and remark) and opinion far too often envelop the business media instead of facts and figures. Equally infuriating is the confidence of view in the delivery of the snark. Sometimes the reason for this is out of necessity, as the media appearances are typically brief and expected to be on point. Nevertheless, in a world characterized by an absence of certainty and an interrelated and a complicated market mosaic (and complexity of issues) without memory from day to day, too many attach self-confident reasons to randomness. Of course, there are exceptions. Consider as an example, the preparation that Jim "El Capitan" Cramer goes through when he interviews a corporate executive on "Mad Money." Another example is CNBC's "Squawk Box" with Joe Kernen, Becky Quick and Andrew Sorkin, which provides a guest host with one to three hours to do a deeper dive in analysis (e.g., just watch Jim Grant's appearance yesterday, which was solid and thoughtful in analysis). Or Bloomberg's "Market Surveillance" in which Tom Keene shares the spotlight with an interviewee for almost a half an hour, digging into the analysis that forms the foundation of view. Not every move in the markets is explainable, though far too many observers attach a reason for every wiggle and move. (Consider the 5% correction that was recently erased. Why? I have no clue, though many express a strong understanding in the moves.) To some, the projection of confidence of view is seen as a validation of an intense and rigorous decision-making process. Increasingly, however, many are fooled by the abbreviated, simplistic, staccato- like explanations and conclusions, because, more often than not, the snark is shown to be wrong in short order as the curtain disclosing a mere human (not the Wizard of Oz) is revealed.