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'Reading from a Script' on Bulls and Bears?

Reported by Judy - March 18, 2006

One Fox News financial analyst on "Bulls and Bears" Saturday (March 18, 2006) accused his colleague of reading from a script in touting the "success" in the Iraq war as the reason for Wall Street's strong performance in the last week.

The rebuff uttered by Pat Dorsey, of morningstar.com, to Tobin Smith, founder of changewave research, was out of character for the mild-mannered Dorsey, who often is the butt of jokes from the flamboyant Smith for his low-key demeanor. Dorsey, a moderate, also is frequently at odds politically with Smith, who backs George Bush at every opportunity, but Dorsey generally shrugs off their differences.

The uncharacteristically direct exchange between the two came as the panel of five stock pickers plus a former pro-wrestler with a radio talk show debated the "question" tossed out by host Brenda Buttner. "One of the largest attacks on insurgents in Iraq launched last Thursday almost three years to the day that 'shock and awe' was unleashed. Can more success take stocks already near five-year highs to record levels?" she "asked" to open the show.

Buttner turned first to Charles Payne, CEO of Wall Street Strategies, upon whom she can always depend to back up any pro-Bush statement she makes. "Absolutely," gushed Payne. "[The market] sees through all the clutter of all the liberal newspapers and news stories that make it seem like we're losing. The stock market knows we're winning. The main objective is to keep terror over there." Well, if that's the objective, we certainly are succeeding. There is far more terror in Iraq today than under Saddam Hussein. But I dont think that's what Payne meant.

Then Buttner tossed it to Tobin Smith. "Think about if Saddam Hussein was in power today with $60 oil and 5 million barrels a day. That would be $300 million a day going into this. What the U.S. has done is we took out the bad guy and you know it's ugly, the stuff coming togther. I think that that was the big threat but we did take it and I think $300 million a day is a weapon of mass destruction in terms of what it could have done to the rest of the world," he said.

Of course, oil was not at $60 a barrel when Hussein was in power. That came after the U.S. took over the country. Since then, Iraq has never been able to pump anywhere near the amount of oil it did under its tin-horn dictator.

The former pro-wrestler, John Layfield, offered a multi-purpose sound bite, no doubt recycled from one of his radio shows: "President Bush is fighting a war on terror and a lot of politicians are just fighting a war on President Bush." Not sure what that has to do with the stock market, but Layfield went on to praise Operation Swarmer, which so far may have turned up suspects in the murder of an Iraqi televsion journalists along with a lot of innocent Iraqis, according to The AP story on it.

"We are going to look back at this week and realize that this was a milestone week that was going on in Iraq. ... Wall Street is appreciating the fact that the fighting is there and it doesn't affect the economy here," said Layfield, who finally managed to work something about the economy into his monologue.

As he usually does, Dorsey let the others rant and then noted that things like the consumer price index numbers, earnings, and oil prices probably have a lot more to do with Wall Street's performance than Iraq events. When sectarian violence flared recently and there were fears of outright civil war in Iraq, Dorsey said, "the market was hitting new highes then as well. So I really don't think what is happening over there is driving the market. It's the fact that earnings are good, the economy is still pretty strong and that's having a much bigger effect."

Tobin Smith then asked, while laughing, "Did anybody give Pat the subject of this whole thing?"

An obviously peeved Dorsey shot back, "Hey Toby, I typically don't read from a script, unlike you."

Tobin Smith laughed, and Buttner went on with the Fox News agenda of promoting the war and making unsophisticated investors believe that the U.S. must remain in Iraq in order for their retirement nest eggs to remain secure, now that most employers have eliminated pensions for retirees.

So was Dorsey speaking metaphorically about Smith reading from a script? I don't know. But from now on, I will be able to write, "Some people say Fox News analysts only read from a script" and be totally accurate.

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