'/> Uncommon Hours: Santelli's rant heard round YouTube
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Santelli's rant heard round YouTube

By Bob Sommer

I discovered years ago that the best way to listen to CNBC in the morning is not to listen at all. Most mornings, our kitchen radio is tuned to NPR while the blue and white bands of CNBC’s crawlers tell me more about the world of finances than any of the simpletons at the anchor desk.

Which doesn’t mean I’ve never heard what they’re saying on CNBC, only that I’ve heard enough to know that I don’t need to hear it.

So Rick Santelli’s rant last week week—his “Chicago Tea Party,” as CNBC has now proudly dubbed it (oh, the ratings!)—came as no surprise at all. It was just a longer and only slightly more elevated version of his daily rants.

Santelli, for those who have the good sense to stick to local weather and traffic reports on morning TV, or those with the even better sense not to turn on the TV at all, is a former commodities trader turned reporter who offers updates on economic news from the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade. Most days, his more benign faux-populist commentary consists of a series of convoluted, serpentine, indecipherable observations about fractional movements in the Treasurys market punctuated by the chorus-like refrain, which he manages to use several times for every minute he’s on the air, “at the end of the day,” which at the end of the day usually segueways into more faux-populist gibberish.

Almost the entire crew of CNBC anchors and reporters shares Santelli’s belief that all things money are good and all things not are either bad or just don’t matter. And they share the fantasy that they’re all just regular people, banging out a living, punching the clock at CNBC and the CBOT. Santelli went so far as to invoke that glorious Nixon-era image of the “silent majority.” Some of us remember those good people, who opposed civil rights and wanted to nuke Vietnam. Things are just so simple for the “silent majority,” so much clearer.

Anchor Joe Kernan hosts the show without his jacket but fully garbed in an off-handed manner, laced with sarcastic disdain for any idea that’s deeper than a cliché or a wise-crack. He sounds off throughout the morning like a regular on the corner stool of your neighborhood bar. Becky Quick, his co-anchor, reads her teleprompter with the urgency of a football play-by-play announcer and comes up with fresh insights like asking, as she did last week, what President Obama’s mortgage plan will mean to her since she pays her bills and mortgage on time. She actually beat Santelli to his rant with this question, but she didn’t incite a riot among commodities traders so she didn’t make YouTube.

This jabber goes on all morning—the financial version of The View.

Their favorite piñadas—they make no pretense to political objectivity—are, in no order of importance since they openly despise them all: Al Gore, Howard Dean, Jesse Jackson, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, Al Sharpton, and Al Gore (yes, he gets two mentions—they hate him that much).

There was nothing new in Santelli’s rant the other day. It just had enough juice added to what goes on every day to catch the YouTube crowd.

For now, I prefer to get the actual numbers for the day’s market horrors from CNBC’s crawlers while I listen to NPR. But with the worst financial crisis in the country’s history descending on us with the ferocity of the alien invaders in Independence Day, it sure would be helpful if these so-called “reporters” brought the same gravity to the financial news as Walter Cronkite once brought to the news news.


  1. GREAT POST. Too bad innanity isn't illegal. CNBC should just shut down as they are less than useless. When are business people going to see the error of their ways? Never, I guess.

  2. Santelli and everyone in that room are just parasites who manipulate binary code that pretends to be money. They are not doing any useful work except in the machinations of their reptilian brains.