In his new book The Fortune Tellers, media critic Howard Kurtz examines the brokerage analysts, fund managers, and news outlets who distribute the information that makes the financial markets rise and fall, and finds many of them conflict-ridden, irresponsible, and glib (click here for an excerpt). In this exchange, James Cramer defends himself and his peers from Kurtz’s charges.
Here’s how I would use Howard’s book. I regard it as an indictment of the short term. I look at it and I ask myself, did any of this stuff matter? It is all fun and interesting and at times wild, but does any of it matter? The Fortune Tellers is about the short-term dissemination of short-term news for short-termers. Long-termers need not apply. That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun or enjoyable or interesting to read about the short-termers, but I could argue that we are all, to some degree, irrelevant, all of us, to anything other than those who like to trade every tick. That said, I cannot change my view that Kurtz’s damning of those involved in the short-term dissemination of news that momentarily affects stock prices is a false damnation. The news process, as opposed to the brokerage process, is relatively clean and nothing in this book would lead you to believe otherwise, except the title and the book tour associated with it.
Bottom line: Everyone asks me after my portrayal whether I hate Howard Kurtz. Here’s my answer: “Not at all. I like him very much. I hate myself!”