Michael Covel and CNBC: A Match Made in Heaven

The CNBC Trading Floor
The CNBC Trading Floor

The line between entertainment and today’s financial journalism is very murky.

First, consider an instantly recognizable passage for many comedy fans:

NBC Executive: I just wanted to let you know that we’ve been discussing you at some of our meetings and we’d be very interested in doing something.
Jerry: Really? Wow.
NBC Executive: If you have any idea for a TV show for yourself, well, we’d just love to talk about it.
Jerry: I’d be very interested in something like that.
NBC Executive: Well, why don’t you give us a call and maybe we can develop a series.
Jerry: Okay. Great. Thanks.

George returns.

George: What was that all about?
Jerry: They said they were interested in me.
George: For what?
Jerry: A TV show.
George: Your own show?

Later Jerry and George are talking.

Jerry: Well, what’s our new show idea going to be about?
George: It’s about nothing.
Jerry: No story?
George: No, forget the story.
Jerry: You’ve got to have a story.

A little later.

Jerry: And its about nothing?
George: Absolutely nothing.
Jerry: So you’re saying, I go in to NBC, and tell them I got this idea for a show about nothing?

Just like Jerry and George CNBC once invited me to their offices. They paid my travel. I had no specific knowledge of what they wanted, but the meeting was with producer Susan Krakower who had invented Jim Cramer’s show. It was assumed that they were looking for new content. Once there, the meeting was in a small windowless New Jersey office with Krakower and her two lieutenants. It was like when Jerry and George went to meet with NBC. A Jim Cramer poster hung behind her.

Krakower sat in front of me behind a large desk and her two lieutenants flanked me on either side. It was triangulation so to speak. They peppered me with small talk questions, yet seemed to have no clue about my writings, research, or thinking. They had not read my books. They only had a picture of me that I had not seen before (something you might imagine an actor brings to a Hollywood casting call). This was the epicenter of CNBCs content development: A glossy headshot.

Krakower asked me to hypothetically program ten hours of airtime for CNBC. My idea for new programming was blunt: trend following, not more stories. My ability to play the game was not very good, and it was easy to see that candor was taken as an insult. The conversation bounced around for 30 minutes and surprise, surprise there was no further dialogue.

Walking through the halls of CNBCs studios that day reminded me of The Truman Show: a constructed reality, a staged, scripted TV show. Except instead of it being one person (Jim Carrey’s character in The Truman Show) who does not know reality is fake, CNBCs reality plays to a worldwide audience daily, week after week and year after year. Views like that make me a persona non grata with some.

Once after speaking to an audience of nearly 1,000 in Brazil, and after the audience had just listened to me proselytize (come on, I got to play the title of this book up some!) about the negatives of media and press, the barbed wire question was thrown to rip me a new one:

“How are you different than Jim Cramer?”

Now that question came after an hour of talking about trend following in depth in the context of the 2008 market crash as trend followers cleaned up. But still, it was a great question to explain further. It comes down to fundamentals versus trend following. If you watch Cramer, you always have to tune in to stay current, that is the hook. That is not the trend following process. It is not my process.

Once you know the trend trading way, you do not need anyone to hold your hand to cross the street. That’s a big difference. Although, teaching as many people as possible is my goal, and capitalism courses through my veins, comparisons to Cramer do not equate. My logic does not win everyone over. One reader complained:

“You trash CNBC and other people, but they provide very good information if you know how to use it, and you shouldn’t just trash everybody’s point of view because there are a lot of smarter people than you, who have a better opinion.”

Punch harder please. Really get some shoulder into it if you are going to swing at me.

More on my CNBC moments.

My Experience with Maria Bartiromo

Note: Trend followers trade everything: stocks, futures, currencies, LEAPs®, ETFs & commodities. Trend following is a strategy not limited to some one group of markets.