Tuned In

Credit Downgraded, Intensity Upgraded on Cable Biz News

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As you know, the stock market is way down. Or way up. Or in between, or both—I’m going to have to hedge my bets, because as I write this, the markets are whanging up and down like a telephone wire that an elephant just jumped off. Within the past hour or so, the Dow has been down about 200 points, because traders were apparently unhappy with today’s Fed statement, and up sharply, because traders were apparently happy with today’s Fed statement.

What’s heading up steadily, as far as I can tell, is my blood pressure, because I have had CNBC on in the background while working on a magazine article over the course of the day. Never one for understatement, the network today seems to have responded to extreme volatility in the market with extreme volatility in its on-air presentation. Its screens have strained to bursting from possible talking-head overload, cramming in a half-dozen faces or more at once like the multiplying screens in the old Faberge Organics commercials (“…you tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on…”). [Update: It hit at least ten at one point. Behold the decabox!]

And on today’s Street Signs, anchor Brian Sullivan responded to an analyst’s statement that the market was looking for a “white knight” in the Fed by saying: “I don’t need a white knight. Maybe we need a Bobby Knight. Someone to throw a chair on the floor and get angry.” Yes! Because if there’s one thing that public discourse over the economy has been lacking over the last few weeks, it’s reckless, explosive anger!

Of course, as a TV critic who once bought Lucent stock at its market peak, I can only assess CNBC’s tone, not its substance. If any of you Tuned Inlanders know more about the markets than I—that would be all of you?—I’m curious how you think CNBC’s coverage of the latest roller-coaster compares with its past track record. Do you have another favorite TV business source? The floor is open!