I’m Not as Bad as Howie Kurtz Says

I’m a trifle surprised that Jim (I Have To Eat Lunch in This Town) Cramer is pulling his punches on these big-name analysts. The New York Times was tougher on itself for its “bad-as-the-Rosenbergs” Wen Ho Lee stories! I criticize journalists all the time, which doesn’t make me real popular at media parties. You’ve never exactly been a striped-pants diplomat.

In fact, you were tougher on Ralph Acampora in The Fortune Tellers than in your latest message. You wrote a column for TheStreet.com in which you made fun of the “raging bull” (as his close personal friends call him) for a somewhat bearish forecast. “Now we have to begin an Acampora watch. … How-many-days-until-Acampora-gets-back-on-the-bull,” you wrote. “When it happens, you know what you ought to do? Send him a nasty e-mail.”

By the way, plenty of people took your advice. And Ralph was really steamed.

I like Ralph Acampora, but he sure has bounced around. In the summer of ‘99, the Prudential Securities analyst said the Dow could hit 13,000 by summer’s end. When that didn’t happen, he said the milestone would be hit by year’s end. But when the market hit some turbulence in September, he said the Dow could drop as low as 8,900. By the end of the year he was bullish again, predicting Dow 14,000 by the end of 2000. As I write, the blue-chip index is at 10,599. I guess we could still make it. Acampora tells me he’s like a weatherman: If it’s sunny for awhile and then storm clouds come in, he has to change his forecast. But he sure changes it alot.

It was also polite of you not to point out that since Henry Blodget recommended eToys late last year, the stock plummeted by 95 percent. Hey, we all make mistakes (though mine don’t cost people a truckful of money). But the financial media machine insists on holding these analysts up as all-knowing, all-seeing gurus, in part so people will tune in for their get-rich-quick advice. Only a few ballsy journalists dare point out that these Wall Street emperors sometimes have no clothes.

Hey, what do you make of the 15-year-old kid busted by the feds as an online pump-and-dumper? Internet message boards have become a real force in the market, and corporations have gotten aggressive in going after smear jobs. I write in the book that Xybernaut (which makes futuristic computers you can wear on your wrist or other body parts) used the message boards to defend its stock after a negative Bloomberg report. But how can people trust what they read online when the latest posting from BigDog or DowWow could be from a stock manipulator, financial genius, ordinary moron, or hyperactive teen-ager?