CNBC=Cranky Nasty Business Correspondent

May 5, 2009

Rick Santelli’s extended tryout process to join the more vitriolic commentary-mongers at Fox News continues. Santelli already raised eyebrows and network blood pressure at CNBC when he aired his “tea party” comments on live TV, raising questions among media obsessives about whether he was in the tank for the Republican Party.

Today’s incident was tamer in the sense that he only accused one of his colleagues, senior economics reporter Steve Liesman, of asking stupid questions. That’s not as big an insult to a civilian as it is to a journalist, who hopes to get paid for asking smart questions. (And someone with Liesman’s extensive business journalism pedigree probably asks fewer stupid questions than most.)

The background: Six of the CNBC gang were on TV discussing whether Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and ex-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson pressured Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis to keep quiet about losses at Merrill Lynch when Bank of America was also under pressure from the government to buy Merrill. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said last month that Bernanke and Paulson threatened Lewis with losing his job if he didn’t push the acquisition through to, essentially, save the U.S. and world financial systems.

One CNBC reporter, Dennis Kneale, wondered aloud if it would be illegal for, say, a lawyer to recommend to Lewis that he violate “Reg FD” disclosure laws that would more or less deceive Bank of America’s shareholders into accepting the deal, knowing that if they were aware of Merrill’s troubled condition, they would oppose it with their very lives.

Then this happened (Beware: Everyone was speaking over everyone else, so we might have missed a word or two here and there):

Liesman: Ask the question in a more compelling way: ‘I want you to save the world and not disclose.’

Santelli: Come on, Steve! Are we going to come up with excuses to break the rules? To break the law? You sound like Richard Nixon! Who did you vote for, Steve?

Liesman: All I was posing was the ethical issue here. If it helps out to stabilize the system, is there a compelling reason to not disclose? I am not advocating that.

Santelli: You don’t break rules in a crisis condition!

Liesman: If you want to blow a gasket on that, Rick, well then, blow it on somebody else — not me!

Santelli: Well, then don’t open your mouth and say dumb things!

CNBC: We insult our own reporters so you don’t have to.

(Photo of fighting — and very showy — lorikeets: Reuters)

16 comments

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Go get em Rick! You are one of the few financial guys that understand what is going on in this hijacking of our financial system. If no one speaks up they will run the American taxpayer “out of business”. We peons may never know who is driving this bus off the cliff, but I can guarentee that when it goes over, the bus driver won’t be on it. Just the dumb passengers.

Posted by NJC | Report as abusive

That’s “strike two” on Santelli.

CNBC needs to compell him to engage in psychotherapy or simply let him go to Fox (the asylum where he likely belongs, anyway)!

Posted by Tom Nordberg | Report as abusive

Rick is the one voice who is not trying to produce green shoots. Could some of the other commentators quit being a wall street tout long enough to accurately present the business news.

Please give more room for an ethical informed voice.

Posted by Curtiss Shewmaker | Report as abusive

90% of the media is for the OBAMA party.
Santelli is right,the guy ask a stupid question

Posted by bill tsekaris | Report as abusive

reuters is an obama outlet too

Posted by bill tsekaris | Report as abusive

Does Liesman or Santelli think waterboarding is acceptable in an emergency such as after 9/11? There was no money lost by investors by waterboarding. At least Bush was trying to protect our country and save lives and probably did. Thanks President Bush, you may have saved my life. I am with Rick on full disclosure and for full disclosure I passed out advertising flyers for time and place of a tea party even though I couldn’t attend.

Posted by ed ray | Report as abusive

Every mouth shall be stopped and the whole world become guilty before God.

Posted by Chip Williams | Report as abusive

SANTELLI IS THE MAN…Apparently one of the few TRUE MEN working for CNBC (unless you count Maria Buttaroma). He knows what’s going on. He knows we’re ALL being taken for a ride by the Golden Slacks Elite who’ve infiltrated Key Positions of gov’t and basically CREATED this entire episode of FEAR MONGERING in order to extort TRILLION$$ from the US Taxpayers and foreign investors.

Paulson FLOODED the market with Credit Default Swaps while at Goldman and then made Billion$, probably TRILLION$$, as the US Banking System ground to a halt. Then he and Geithner cut BACK ROOM DEALS to further line the pockets of their Wall St cronies…All at the expense of the avg working person who thought their jobs and retirement savings were SAFE!

Don’t think for a second that this is over…Obama has a HUGE DESIRE TO SOCIALIZE THE US ECONOMY, which he’s made great progress on in only 100 days. As long as Goldman Elite and Obama’s Machine are running (RUINING) this country, you can forget the Good Ol US of A that we all know and LOVE…It’s effectively D-E-A-D. Incentives to prosper will be removed to make way for Central Gov’t Planning.

There is no desire by Obama’s team to “resolve” this financial crisis. Extending it indefinitely allows them to get EVERYTHING THEY WANT from a beat-down US population that’s starving and living in tent cities. Time will tell exactly who we elected, since most people who voted for him know very little about him. Get ready for an Obama Nation of Desolation…

Posted by Talking Head | Report as abusive

looks like Rick is on drugs lately. He has become very offensive. His smile reminds me of dracula

Posted by dick | Report as abusive

Well the bailout funds will ultimately be paid back by the banks who owed them. So that money will come back. What is less clear is the stimulus money. The stimulus money are giveaways, not loans. They won’t be paid back directly. It remains to be seen whether that stimulus package can create 2 million jobs or not. That’s more worrisome than bailout money; because we know bailouts will be returned someday.

Posted by Jack Oriole | Report as abusive

Rick is a voice and in America we left right-wing, left wing and stupid people speak. What we don’t do in this country is talk about solutions. Rick keep it up, you only prove how none of the media heads has any honesty. Fox is a joke. Fox is a trailer park reality show gone bad. Keep the balance CNBC don’t fire someone for standing up to a know it all journalist, even if he is small minded, temperamental conservative boob.

Posted by Roger | Report as abusive

Unfortunately, Rick Santelli has fallen in love with his own opinions and confuses them with knowledge. Liesman, on the other hand, is actually one of the smarter guys on CNBC

Why does someone who presents an alternate view have to be “in the tank” for the other side? Debate is good; debate is healthy. Ratings for some news programs are declining because they present what they think the audience wants to hear instead of presenting the facts and letting the people decide. Rick came up with a good idea – and it actually struck a nerve in society. I don’t care what Rick actually believes, but the success of the “tea party” concept shows that many people do believe that spending is out of control. Lets have the debate, maybe we will all learn something new.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

Santelli is a journalist, he dares question and ponder
while liesman appears to be the personal minion of
bernanke and the fed. He only worships their every
move, he dares not stray from their wishes.

People, we have followed too long, its time to ask
questions before that freedom is gone.

Posted by JJ Costaintino | Report as abusive

Liesman has never and will never apologize for saluting to the bleeding heart liberal flag. Come on people, are we all sheep? Santelli questions government actions and motives, and the media scum that perpetuate the “greater of the good scam”. Should we all click our heels and salute at the Obama temple? Give me a break, Santelli is breath of fresh air.

Posted by tim | Report as abusive

[...] more here. Posted by Chris Roush [...]

I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, but when Rick comes on in the morning from the pits, I hush everybody. He speaks real wisdom and in a very entertaining fashion. Maybe he should tone it down for reasons of self-preservation, but his “emperor-has-no-clothes” attitude is totally on-point. One of the real gems on business b’casting. I hope CNBC realizes that.

Posted by Geoff Stuart | Report as abusive