OLD Media Moves

The criticism of CNBC's coverage of the fall of Bear Stearns

July 7, 2008

The Deal executive editor Yvette Kantrow writes in the latest issue about Vanity Fair’s piece on the fall of Bear Stearns, which went to great lengths to portray business news network CNBC‘s coverage as one of the reasons it collapsed.

Kantrow writes, “The charges against CNBC (and the hedge funds and Goldman) give the piece something that The Wall Street Journal’s earlier three-parter on Bear lacked. But they also raise questions about how the media is covering and perhaps even fanning the current banking crisis.

“Indeed, no sooner had the ink on Burrough’s piece dried than another Wall Street firm, Lehman Brothers Inc., saw its stock fall 8% on June 30. The next morning, Lehman was topic A on CNBC, with The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin playing guest host. Sorkin quickly debunked the previous day’s rumor that Lehman would be taken over by Barclays plc but added that the firm is not in the clear yet: ‘Every time we talk about this story, the headline issue, if you will, puts them in a more precarious place,’ he said.

“Clearly, Sorkin had read Burrough’s piece and didn’t want to be tarred as a malevolent Chatty Kathy if Lehman succumbed. But he and the CNBC gang kept gabbing anyway; it’s what they’re there for. Soon enough, Sorkin is happily sparring with Charlie Gasparino, who came in for some drubbing in Burrough’s story for stating that he didn’t see how Bear could survive independently because ‘they don’t have enough horses out there.’ Now, he was making a similar prediction for Lehman.”

Read more here.

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