Ali Velshi of CNN: Biased, Disingenuous and Manipulative

Let’s be frank: Anyone giving a view to a significant audience is obliged to be truthful. Now, consider this excerpt from CNN today…noting the “angle” (and that’s being nice) that CNN reporter Ali Velshi takes:

KEITH MCCULLOUGH (GUEST ON CNN): I think what’s happening in Europe is just a preview as to what’s going to happen in the U.S. It all basically starts with debt. So if you believe as a government official that you can solve the problems that are anchored in debt with more debt you are going to end up with the same problems that the Europeans are facing. And I think that we are three to six months away from that coming home to roost here in the U.S.

VELSHI (CNN ANCHOR): Why is it that lots of people go out of their way, Keith, to tell us how the U.S. is not the same as Europe? Our debt issues are certainly are not the same as Greece’s, as Italy’s, as Portugal’s, why are you suggesting that we will get into the same pickle?

MCCULLOUGH: At the end of the day from a deficit perspective, the U.S. — the deficit as a percentage of your GDP is exactly like Greece. It’s going to be pushing close to 12 percent. And anytime we have an issue, like today, for example, with the jobs report what is the answer? The answer is more government, more government spending which is going to simply keep pushing that deficit?

VELSHI: Hold on. What are you talking about? When you have a jobs report like this week, the answer is more government, more government spending? Where did you hear that from? We’ve been discussing that endlessly. That has not been anyone’s suggestion.

MCCULLOUGH: Well I think that that is definitely going to be the suggestion. If you look at this mornings …

VELSHI: Keith, this isn’t an opportunity to just come up on TV and bash government. What are you talking about?

MCCULLOUGH: This morning’s number, if you look at the job ads, 400,000 of them were government-hired workers.

VELSHI: So no one has come out and said, oh my god, let’s have 800,000 government jobs next month. Everybody has said, this is not the way we actually want things to go. We want more private sector hiring. Christine, have you heard one person telling you that this is fantastic; we should have more government hiring? I don’t know what Keith is talking about.

VELSHI: I don’t understand what your premise is, Keith, because that’s not the answer. What should we be doing differently?

MCCULLOUGH: Well the answer will be, from a political perspective, that is a forecast, Ali. That is a forecast. That is what government’s do that have problems, they spend more and more money, taxpayer money to hire.

More from the transcript:

MCCULLOUGH: I think that, look, the market’s ganging up on the three of you because at the end of the day the market doesn’t lie, politicians and people do. And the American government said they were going to solve this than you can go do that. But risk management Ali, starts with watching what the market is telling you.

VELSHI: I hope the market is as cruel to me next year as it was last year. I hope I suffer through another 70 percent gain in the broader markets, Keith. If that’s your biggest plague that you wish on me, I’ll take it.

Consider those last few sentences of arrogance from Velshi as you read the stats that he forgot to mention:

The S&P 500 (SPX) closed on 5/22/2000 at 1400.72 and closed on Friday 5/28/2010 at 1089.41. That is a 22.2% loss in value in ten years of buy and hold investing not allowing for inflation. That means a buy and hold investor lost 22.2% of their money plus another 20% for inflation — a 42% haircut. The period of history the buy and hold advocates really don’t want you to know about is 1929 to 1954. The highest close for the Dow was 381.17 on 9/3/1929 before the beginning of the great bear market, and it took 25 years to get back to ‘even’ on a nominal basis (not counting inflation). The Dow closed above 381 for the first time on 11/23/1954 after the 9/3/1929 high.”

Does Velshi seem like an honest guy as he yucks it up about “suffering through a 70% gain” while failing to mention the real stats [the real stats of buying and holding being underwater for over 10 years]? No, he doesn’t. Is he the type of guy who should be educating anyone about money and markets? Clearly not. As a teacher, I resent Velshi’s reckless use of a CNN megaphone to preach to many who surely don’t know that he is full of it.

***

One reader responded to my comments above by saying:

Isn’t what you’ve written below libelous (not to mention an unnecessary personal attack)? ‘Does Velshi seem like an honest guy as he yucks it up about “suffering through a 70% gain” while failing to mention the real stats? No, he doesn’t.’

The libel is? The personal attack is? The unnecessary part is?

Since you have thrown out a very specific and unfounded attack against me (libel), and since you have failed to back your view in any way, it is assumed that you agree with Velshi (that is unless you correct my assumption).

With Velshi tossing out that 70% line he is saying clearly:

1. That he made that 70%.
2. That he is a buy and holder.

So if he is a buy and holder, and he says he made 70% while ignoring the prior 10 years where all buy and holders are still underwater — he is manipulative at best. Or, and I guess this is possible, perhaps Velshi perfectly timed the bottom from March 09 to May 10 and that’s how he made his 70%? And if he is this wonderful market timer, capable of nailing bottoms and tops perfectly, where is this all disclosed?

When someone appears on TV regularly to large audiences, when they preach money and markets, and when they make the statements Velshi does, I stand by my view. The fact that you are remotely sympathetic with Velshi, and since you seemingly see nothing wrong with what he is doing, you make my point better than I ever could.

31 thoughts on “Ali Velshi of CNN: Biased, Disingenuous and Manipulative

  1. At least if you listened to Jim Cramer you’d get a good natured idiot, this guy Ali Velshi is merely an idiot. Disengenuous? Possibly not,he might actually believe in the garbage he spews.

  2. Isn’t what you’ve written below libelous (not to mention an unnecessary personal attack)?

    ‘Does Velshi seem like an honest guy as he yucks it up about “suffering through a 70% gain” while failing to mention the real stats? No, he doesn’t.’

  3. To use Peter Chungs term from the video, Ali Velshi’s thinking resembles institutional thinking.

  4. When you are in an honest discussion, you back up your points with facts(provided you know what they are). When your only interest is that ‘I’m going to be right no matter what’ you go the route of Ali Velshi. This is quite obvious when he tried to embarrass his guest. This is what children do because they don’t know any better. Unfortunately, CNN is presenting him as an adult professional. Just another example of the financial media BS that is put out there for the masses.

  5. Jeff, the libel is? The personal attack is? The unnecessary part is?

    Since you have thrown out a very specific and unfounded attack against me (libel), and since you have failed to back your view in any way, it is assumed that you agree with Velshi (that is unless you correct my assumption).

    With Velshi tossing out that 70% line he is saying clearly:

    1. That he made that 70%.
    2. That he is a buy and holder.

    So if he is a buy and holder, and he says he made 70% while ignoring the prior 10 years where all buy and holders are still underwater — he is manipulative at best. Or, and I guess this is possible, perhaps Velshi perfectly timed the bottom from March 09 to May 10 and that’s how he made his 70%? And if he is this wonderful market timer, capable of nailing bottoms and tops perfectly, where is this all disclosed?

    When someone appears on TV regularly to large audiences, when they preach money and markets, and when they make the statements Velshi does, I stand by my view. The fact that you are remotely sympathetic with Velshi, and since you seemingly see nothing wrong with what he is doing, you make my point better than I ever could.

  6. Also, let’s be clear about cable networks: FOX leans right with CNN and MSNBC leaning left. My rip of Velshi has nothing to do with the political stance of his network or any other network. I simply ripped him for the reasons stated. Everyone that comes here knows that I don’t have an umbilical cord to any party. Just call it like I see ’em.

  7. Hi Michael

    To accuse a journalist of making up facts is extremely serious.

    Is it not libelous to accuse someone of lying, unless you have cast-iron proof?

    Maybe Mr Veshi, either by good luck or good judgment, did make 70%. Unless you have seen his brokerage statements, you have no evidence to the contrary.

    Jeff

  8. Jeff, did you read comment #6 from me?

    I can tell that you are missing this conversation. Perhaps, step back and look at this discussion in a more careful way? When you keep coming back to defending Velshi, on an issue that is not even being debated, you appear blindly connected to the matrix as in the video posted by Trender above.

    Additionally, I am not sure how anyone can call Velshi a journalist after reading the above transcript. He is having an opinion based argument with the guest where Velshi is clearly supportive of government action in the economy. That is not journalism, that is Velshi’s opinion.

  9. Michael

    We’ll have to agree to disagree with this one. 🙂

    Whether one agrees or disagrees with Mr Velshi, there is no valid reason, in my opinion, to call into question his honesty. He probably disagrees with you about a number of things, but doesn’t call you a liar.

    Jeff

  10. Jeff, very weak on your part. You have not addressed any issue being discussed and leave most of us here wondering whether you are remotely digesting the discussion at hand.

    If an opinion based taking head comes on TV (i.e. Velshi) touting his approximately 70% gain from March 09 low to May 10 high in broad markets, doing so while implicitly promoting government action in the economy, and doing so while ignoring the fact that buy and holders are underwater still after 11 years — that talking head is as I describe.

    Can you stop blindly defending Velshi for one second and demonstrate that you understand what I am saying?

  11. You could call into question the responsibility of Mr Velshi’s comments (although arguably he was merely doing what a good news anchor does, and putting forward an opposing view to stimulate debate).

    But I maintain that you have no reason to question his honesty.

    As for whether I agree or disagree with Mr Velshi, I don’t know enough about the matter to make an informed judgment.

  12. Jeff, do you think it is honest for a CNN opinion-based talking head to tout that he made 70% (a statement which of course carefully carves out the exact bottom and top of last 14 months) while failing to mention that buy and hold is still underwater for the last 11 years? Knowing all the while that his audience may be relying on his less than complete opinion as sound investing strategy?

    That is not honest. It is manipulative. And if you are not informed about the matter, accusing me of libel is not very honest either.

  13. It was possibly disingenuous, but ‘dishonest’ suggests fabrication of the facts. 🙂

  14. Jeff, do you think Velshi knows that broad stock markets are still underwater for the last 11 years?

    Trying to find Velshi’s “investment approach”. Found this so far:

    So why should cable-TV attuned investors listen to Mr. Velshi’s advice rather than, say, CNBC’s manic Mad Money man Jim Cramer?

    “Cramer is a guy I respect,” said the diplomatic CNN anchor. “He’s a guy that I consider a friend. I listen to Jim Cramer. Jim has an encyclopedic knowledge. You listen to Jim because you want to know about specific companies and how they’re going to perform.”

    “You don’t read my book to be a stock picker,” he added. “You read my book to have a broad investment strategy because you’re not otherwise planning on spending a lot of time day-trading. Mine is the book you read because you’ve never wanted to be involved in finances, or you don’t understand your finances, but you’d still like to retire comfortably.”

    Why do I have a feeling Velshi touts buy and hold in his book and not how to time March 09 lows to May 10 highs? Guess I need to stop in Borders and check it out…

  15. VELSHI (CNN ANCHOR): “Why is it that lots of people go out of their way, Keith, to tell us how the U.S. is not the same as Europe? Our debt issues are certainly are not the same as Greece’s, as Italy’s, as Portugal’s, why are you suggesting that we will get into the same pickle?”

    America is using the same bailout playbook as Europe. America continues to heavily increase debt.

  16. Michael,

    I am not sure what your beef with me is, and I am not an “opinion-based talking head”. I am a financial journalist and CNN’s Chief Business Correspondent. I took issue with my guest’s comment and holding people accountable is what I get paid to do (it seems you are doing the same thing with me, yet denying that I have right to do it.) Since you seem to have both the time and the inclination to do it, you my want to look at transcripts of my reports for the last year-and-a-half. In fact, I WAS very clearly calling a market bottom in early spring of 2009 (so were a lot of people; doesn’t make me skilled or talented.) I just think that my guest was being unfair. I don’t have an umbilical cord to any political party either. You are welcome to your views but I would ask that if you are going to be this strident, you do a little research first. You are accusing me of things you know nothing about (and unlike most, my investment philosophies are in writing.) I’m not sure why my disagreeing with my guest has got you as worked up as it has, but I think my record speaks for itself as a fair-minded, thoughtful journalist.

  17. Ali if you claim you were “holding people accountable” by not letting Keith get a word in edgewise, why don’t you do a little homework on your guest before taking that approach?  He built his business on being consistently right, and being held accountable to every opinion.  It’s scary and sad that you don’t even know enough to know who you’re challenging.  You’re lucky he chose to be polite….do your homework…his knowledge base trumps yours by many multiples.  And what’s sad about this (per comments above) is that this could have been a show to help educate your viewers yet your ignorance keeps your viewership (and the general american public) in the dark.

  18. If you’ve watched Velshi’s so-called analysis for any reasonable length of time you should not be surprised at his Keynesian perspective. Velshi along with Tony Harris and Rick Sanchez — and don’t be fooled by Wolf Blitzer’s toeing the new CNN line to attempt to stop the hemorrhaging of viewers — have their heads so far up Obama’s behind they can’t see even the most obvious.

  19. So far it appears Velshi has issued one trading signal — a ‘buy’ in spring 09. Have there been other buy or sell signals issued by Velshi before or after?

  20. These so-called journalists should stop trying to filibuster guests who have something valuable to say.

  21. I just want to know exactly what he bought, on what date, at what price, and did he sell, or is he still holding?

  22. Yeah, I bought the bottom of the market in 2009 too… yeah, yeah, wink, wink, nudge, nudge… I just didn’t say anything until now because I’m a responsible journalist… yeah, yeah…

  23. Love those Shills and Bozos who keep saying
    “I don’t understand…”

    That’s the point. They don’t have a clue.

  24. I don’t know whether Ali Velshi is disingenuous, manipulative or whatever else. I do know that he absolutely wears me out listening to him–not only for his rapid-fire delivery but also for his apparent know-it-all attitude, displayed so many times by interrupting his guests to bomb them with more rapid-fire questions. Kramer is more fun to watch since I don’t think he takes himself as seriously as Velshi and comes across as much more likeable.

  25. Velshi is an ignorant journalist. Has no idea about finance/economy. Frankly he has gotten many things wrong. He still spouts that the US cannot make electronics/high tech even as US companies are actually moving back to the US. Such an idiot.

  26. A couple of weeks ago on CNN, Al Velshi was taking about how most Americans have missed the bull market because they were too afraid to invest after the last credit crunch and market crash. But he neglected to mention that they should have built up substantial liquid emergency funds before investing one penny in “the market.”

    So if Americans are building emergency funds instead of putting that $ in the market, that’s a good thing. They will sleep better at night. They will have money on hand when bad things happen.

    You can find local banks and credit unions that offer free checking accts that pay 1% to 2% if you make so many debits per month, etc. These kinds of FDIC insured, liquid accts are good for emergency $. They almost keep up with inflation.

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