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The Sky Is Falling! Barbarians Are at The Gate! Nuke the Bastards! And, Oh Yeah, Four Minutes of Stock Advice

Reported by Marie Therese - December 7, 2006 -

At the end of November the Bush administration issued another one of its unfounded, speculative, uncorroborated warnings that certain unidentified (mythological?) "Al Qaeda" hackers, posting on an unnamed website somewhere in cyberspace, said that they wanted to hack into the computers at the New York Stock Exchange in order to bring down our economy.  As Melanie noted in an earlier post, this report rated a big ho-hum from other media outlets, which generally ran one story, containing the qualifier that the threat was "unconfirmed" and "posed no immediate danger" to the United States.  

FOX News, however, has never met a fear mongering government press release that it didn't like! On the December 2nd edition of Forbes on FOX the spurious Al Qaeda cyber threat was the lead story followed by more overheated "bomb Iran" rhetoric. Sandwiched in between was about four minutes of actual discussion of stocks.

What constantly amazes me is not that FOX News hires burbling bundles of bombast like David Asman, Jim Michaels, John Rutledge, Lea Goldman and Mike Ozanian. It's that the generally saner pundits (Elizabeth MacDonald, Victoria Barret, Quentin Hardy) continue to appear and allow themselves to be interrupted, shouted down and generally marginalized by their more conservative colleagues.

Quentin Hardy in particular seems completely out of place in the Forbes gang. Week in and week out he tries to present arguments that are based on actual knowledge of history and economics while the other panelists regurgitate the spin du jour. Hardy has clearly been typecast as the west coast "liberal" and, as such, is the designated whipping boy for belligerent conservatives like Michael K. "Mike" Ozanian, Senior Editor of Forbes.

Ozanian is a rabid nuke-'em type, who has proposed on more than one occasion (most recently last Saturday) that we drop a bunch of bombs on the Iranian nuclear facilities. Pretty heady stuff for a guy who's main claim to fame is that he's a statistician who produces an annual report on the financial health of major league baseball reaching conclusions that are generally disputed by team owners and others. Ozanian claims that his stats are the correct ones, showing that MLB clubs are making a lot more money than the owners say they are. However, he doesn't back up his claims with documentation. (Source: CJR Daily, April 26, 2006.)

This time-honored, sacred duel between Forbes magazine and MLB might be a nice diversion during the off season. However, it hardly qualifies Ozanian as an expert in foreign policy. Yet week in and week out he is allowed to spout the most ridiculous, bloodthirsty claptrap and even to lie to the FOX viewers with impugnity.

Case in point - the folowing segment from last Saturday, which is typical of what transpires on FOX's vapid financial shows. Throughout the whole thing, FOX ran the following in their lower third: APPEASING EVIL: #1 DANGER TO YOUR LIFE AND MONEY?

LEA GOLDMAN: You can talk to Iran until you're blue in the face and it won't change a thing.


GOLDMAN: Because they are supporting insurgents in Iraq, they - supporting killers of American soldiers and they want to wipe Israel off the face of the planet which, frankly, is not good for American interests. Same thing with Syria. You can talk to them until they're blue in the face. They're still gonna support Hezbollah.

ASMAN: Would talking be appeasing them, John?

JOHN RUTLEDGE: No, Lea. If you want to beat someone in a business deal you have to get in their face and I mean right in their face where they can smell the pheromones. That's what this is about. You don't go to Basel [Switzerland] and have a conference at the Intercontinental Hotel. You get in their face. You say this is what we're gonna do, when we're gonna do it and why and then you do it. And this is something you have to cure right in their face.

ASMAN: And, Mike. we did it with the Soviets back in the 80s.

MIKE OZANIAN: The Soviets didn't want to annihilate us. These guys have told us ...

ASMAN: The Soviets didn't? That's why they had all those missiles?!!

OZANIAN: No no, no, no. They wanted to take control of the world through Communism.

VICTORIA BARRET: They were just making pretend?

OZANIAN: These guys have come out and said they want to kill us. We need to use nuclear-tipped missiles today to take out Iran's facilities. David, the longer we wait and the more we talk to these guys, John, the stronger they get and we're gonna have to deal with this problem down the road.

Victoria Barret then argued that we really should engage in serious "forceful" talks with Iran. Jim Michaels disagreed, claiming that Iran was like Germany before the Second World War.

Then it was Quentin Hardy's turn.

HARDY: No, not just like Hitler. It wasn't from talking to Hitler. It was from letting him re-militarize the Ruhr and giving him Czechoslovakia. That was not the talking, That was the giving. It is not about - if we give them Basra, yes, it is a problem. Let's play current events. What if we have stayed in the U.N. and let the weapons inspectors finish their job? They would have found out, wow, no WMD and we now know that Saddam's regime would have collapsed under its own weight and, guess what? Americans wouldn't be dying there. It wouldn't have cost nearly a trillion dollars ....

OSANIAN: You're nuts! Wait a minute! You're absolutely nuts! Saddam was trying to buy ...

ASMAN: Wait a minute. Now, hold on, Quentin. Hold on. One at a time.

OZANIAN: He's absolutely nuts! Saddam was trying to buy uranium so he could build nuclear bombs.

HARDY (loudly, off camera): That's not true!!!

OZANIAN: Secondly, these U. N. inspections? He kept denying them time and time and time again That's the whole thing that people like Quentin don't get. (Hardy shakes his head in disbelief) The longer we wait, the stronger the enemy becomes.

GOLDMAN: Right. Right.

HARDY (jabbing his finger at the camera): Mike, here's what you don't understand ...

ASMAN: Hold on.

HARDY (agitated): No. I gotta go.

ASMAN: Hold on, Quentin.

GOLDMAN: It's no longer about diplomacy. Their ideological agenda is completely opposed to our system of life. They want us Islamic or they want us dead. It's that simple.

ASMAN: Quentin, go ahead.

HARDY: Look. I'll leave that aside. Let's boil it down ...

GOLDMAN: Leave it aside?!! That's the main point!

HARDY: No. The main point is if we'd talked, we wouldn't be in this ruinous war in Iraq. The main point is you can talk and then you can kill. But you cannot kill and then talk Start with the talking!

RUTLEDGE: We don't need to wait in order to talk. We go there. Tell them we need to get rid of those facilities. We'll give you ninety days. On the ninety-first day, you blow them up. And then you do it. You don't kid around. That's what we did in 1991. That's what we need to do now.

ASMAN: But, Victoria, we talked and talked with the North Koreans. All the while we were talking with them, they were building their nuclear bombs.

BARRET: Well, I think we should have been more forceful. I think the problem, historically, is we haven't gone in strong enough. We're not saying we should be nice with these guys. Talking to them isn't appeasing is attempting to influence them. [indecipherable] It's a mixed bag.


JIM MICHAELS: You know. You don't need George Bush or Condoleezza Rice to go to Tehran and tell them this. You can signal this through other sources and they'll get the message. The point is, if we talk to them, we'll have to make concessions in advance and hand them a victory and deceit is one of their weapons.

HARDY: We'd have to use diplomacy!!

MICHAELS; They see nothing wrong with deceit and anything that they'd agree to, they'll break.

ASMAN: But, Quentin, you have to have diplomacy based on two parties that want to come to a mutual understanding or some kind of compromise. You see any sign in Ahmadinejad that he wants to compromise?

HARDY: You're saying all we can do is kill them? I just don't think so. I don't think that's the right thing to do ...

ASMAN: But do you see any sign of compromise ...

HARDY: ... and it's been ...

ASMAN: Quentin, Quentin, Quentin, don't put words in my mouth. Do you see any signs of compromise coming from Ahmadinejad?

HARDY: Yes, absolutely, I do.

ASMAN: What?

HARDY: I think any - he is an elected official. There are other power sources in Iran. They have to sell oil. They have to live in the world, same as everyone else. They can be talked to.


HARDY: Yes. I think they're human beings.

ASMAN: Quentin, we're givin' you the last word. We have to move on. (emoting like a used car salesman) Ya' think Brittany and Paris have been makin' big headlines? Well, you ain't seen nothin' yet. The two names my next guest says will soon steal all those headlines by taking Wall Street by storm! The new stock superstars right after this.

After the commercial break special hedge fund manager Jordan Kimmel of Magnet Investment Corporation and National Securities Corporation touted his two "super" stocks, which turned out to be Illumina, specializing in genetic pharmaceuticals, and Technitrol, which manufactures some piece of equipment that is used to make other pieces of equipment (Or, at least, that's what I think Kimmel said). The segment ended with a Forbes expert saying he liked Technitrol because "most of their revenue's coming from overseas ..."

The total elapsed time for the Forbes on FOX weekly stock market song and dance was - drum roll, please! - four minutes. The rest of the time was spent on politics.

THIS is a financial advice show???

Only when pigs fly ...