It seemed only a bit odd that media star Arianna Huffington was the guest host on CNBC the day the all-important stress test results were due. Not to play down her credentials in media or commentary circles, but where were the celebrated bank analysts, the corporate chieftains and the investment gurus who so routinely enjoy a dose of the limelight on America's Business Channel?
Wasn't this the perfect day for a newsmaker rather than a news talker? The Huffington Post founder has been a good reality check on market cheerleaders who live on CNBC, but on Stress-Test Thursday, the less-than-casual viewer expects insiders with insight. It tasted like something strange and exotic had made its way into the DealZone coffee machine.
Then disgraced former New York Governor and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer joined the fray, and the slightly odd became surreal. Spitzer, who casually noted he was invited to the show (hint, hint), gave a spirited view from the nosebleed seats, far back from the federal policymakers' bench.
Forget all this stress test stuff -- what about Spitzer's attempt at resurrection? Anchor Joe Kernen asked whether Spitzer the AG would have prosecuted Spitzer the governor and Spitzer the guest legal expert answered no, arguing that issues of judgment are more important than issues of law.
This should be equally true for the banks, Spitzer said. But the banks' transgressions were far more damaging to many more people than Spitzer's own. It's hard to believe moral suasion and limiting access to cheap funds would have been enough to persuade greedy bankers to act more responsibly. Certainly, shareholders would not have rewarded them for behaving better while others were making a killing selling toxic investments.