Laughing Down the Prophets

I ran across this clip last week, and think it’s a pretty eye-opening example of how bears and outliers are ostracized in journalism, particularly on television.

Watch Peter Schiff, who heads Euro Pacific Capital and was an adviser to Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, as he blows up Arthur “the Curve” Laffer, Ben Stein, Neal Cavuto, Stuart Varney, and more. Here’s Stein, for example, about 6:25 in:

The financials, as I keep saying, are just super bargains. I predict that Merrill Lynch, which as an astonishingly well run company, do you know the other day it was trading at seven times earnings? … This is a joke.

That was when Merrill was around $70 a share.

Fox News’s Neal Cavuto dismisses Schiff’s dead accurate warnings by comparing them to an “exposé on Santa Claus”, and the groans and laughter from other guests litters the whole segment, as if Schiff is a corner end-is-nigh preacher with a sandwich board (which may have gotten him more respect).

It’s downright disgusting, especially because just about everything Schiff says has proven dead accurate.

The above clip doesn’t have much CNBC in it. So check this Kudlow & Company one out. It has Donald Luskin in it, and the CNBC folks are bullish—need I say more?.

Okay, I will: Sample quote from Luskin, answering Schiff’s question on why if we produce so much great stuff we had a $60 billion a month trade deficit:

Because we’re so rich we can afford it. Because our money is so valuable, our credit is accepted worldwide, that billions of peasants worldwide are willing to work in poorly lit, poorly ventilated factories just to get our paper money, because it’s that precious.

Um. Worldview exposed.

Methinks these jokers owe Schiff—and the rest of us—an apology, preferably of the on-their-knees-groveling type.

I think we can make this a regular feature at The Audit, a service for future historians and comic relief for the rest of us. Send me your favorite examples of pundits gone awry—TV or print.

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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.