CNBC: kid gloves for bankers, boxing gloves for bank critics
Interviews with Barofsky, Spitzer, and Krugman underscore the network’s capture
By Ryan Chittum
TAGS: Andrew Ross Sorkin, CNBC, Eliot Spitzer, Paul Krugman, Wall Street
We’re all for aggressively skeptical interviewing—I’ve often wished we could import Brits to do our presidential interviews, for instance. But it’s a problem when one group of people get interviewed adversarially and another group gets deferential treatment.
That contrast has been clear on CNBC in the last few weeks in a series of interviews with liberal bank critics Neil Barofsky, Paul Krugman, and Eliot Spitzer. The comparison to how the network has recently treated the bankers who actually created the financial crisis is striking.
Barofsky, the former special inspector general of the TARP, is one of a very few prominent government officials to take a sharply skeptical stance toward the big banks. He went on CNBC’s Squawk Box last week to talk his new book Bailout, which makes the case that the TARP bailouts staved off a complete financial collapse but failed to fulfill its mandate to spur lending and help homeowners. In other words, he says Treasury rescued and, importantly, re-empowered Wall Street, while “foaming the runway” for the banks with most everyone else (besides the car companies).
This shouldn’t be controversial or hard to understand, but then you have to actually listen to Barofsky’s argument instead of interrupting him when he tries to answer, as Steve Liesman repeteadly does.
At one point, when Barofsky criticizes “the general attitude, which was this level of deference to the banks. And it’s extended over the past two years to program after program… Again and again it was always from the perspective of Wall Street,” he might as well have been talking about CNBC instead of the Obama Treasury.
Here’s a clip of Becky Quick lecturing Barofsky that “Wall Street made good on its side of the bargain” on TARP because it paid back its megabailouts plus a bit of interest:
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