Note to CNBC: Breathe

Burnett suggests shorts are unpatriotic; Cramer says it may be terrorism

And now we have CNBC’s Erin Burnett questioning short sellers’ patriotism.

This, we overhead this afternoon. Not believing our ears, we cleaned them with Q-Tips, Tivo’d the segment, transcribed it, and there it was.

“We’re getting to the point where some of the activity in some of the [stock] names out there causing all investment banks in this country to be wiped out in a week could be considered to be unpatriotic.”

The remark was made shortly after news broke that Britain’s financial regulator outright banned bets against financial companies in the United Kingdom. Britain’s radical step provided the context for the discussion.

So there’s that.

Adding to the nuttiness, Jim Cramer came to the defense of shorts, sort of—by raising the prospect that terrorists might be behind it.

We aren’t kidding.

Talking to Burnett about her patriotism comments Cramer said some people he’s talking to are wondering whether what’s going is “financial terrorism.”

“Obviously the financial terrorism thing to me has to be put on the table just because the regular short sellers are not doing this. They’re not doing this.”

He added:

To ban short selling is wrong. It’s just wrong. Unless, If you have reason to believe that it was a force that would normally use physical terrorism that is using financial terrorism—if you have reason to believe that.”

Even as we agree with Cramer on the issue of not banning shorts, we’re not sure this kind of talk is helping matters, generally.

A CNBC spokesman said he’s reviewing the segment.

Look, we know this deepening crisis has everybody, including financial commentators, spooked. And understandably, so.

But this is stuff you normally find in the darkest corners of Yahoo Finance chat boards, not supposedly reputable financial journalism broadcasts.

Time to take a deep breath.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.