Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Santelli Astroturf Fallout, Megalomania Edition


The attention around Mr. Santelli’s views now appears to be a distraction at CNBC. (The New York Times has a content-sharing agreement with the network.) Mr. Santelli declined interview requests on Monday, and the network canceled his appearance on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” on Wednesday. “It was time to move on to the next big story,” a CNBC spokesman said.

Yes, indeed. How embarassing when the “big story” concerns your reporter’s ethics and your network’s questionable credibilty.

CNBC’s Rick Santelli has been forced to issue a denial that he was affiliated with FreedomWorks, the Sam Adams Alliance, or any of the other groups whose planned “tea parties” mysteriously sprang up hours after his rant.

And what a denial it is. This one takes the prize for rank narcissisim:

First of all let me be clear that I have NO affiliation or association with any of the websites or related tea party movements that have popped up as a result of my comments on February 19th, or to the best of my knowledge any of the people who organized the websites or movements.


Anyone who has watched my thousands of appearances on CNBC is well acquainted with my aggressive and impassioned style. Over the next several days CNBC.com will put up some of my other passionate broadcasts of the past. Since joining CNBC in 1999 I have not traded the markets in any capacity. As a financial reporter I have never shied away from trying to promote discourse and dialogue of the important issues that affect markets and therefore our lives. The one spot in particular that occurred on February 19th at roughly 8:15 est time and maybe lasted for a minute probably wasn't even in my top 5 in terms of intensity, energy, or controversy. It was unique in that it obviously struck a chord with the public thus inciting what can only be described as a groundswell of feedback from the public, the White House, the Internet, and the media at large.

Oh, obviously. Cripes. The ego has landed. Oh, but there’s more:

Many millions of Americans seem to agree with my position otherwise why would this "rant" be so much different than many of my impassioned comments of the past. Why would the Internet light up the way it did if people did not feel so strongly. The answer seems pretty obvious; the nerve I struck resonated across the country.

Good lord. It seems Rick Santelli hasn’t spoken to Michelle Malkin, who claims:

The rebellion was already underway before Santelli took a stand on the Chicago trading floor. The Seattle anti-pork protest, spearheaded by independent mom-blogger Keli Carender who comments on this site, took place on Feb. 16. Santelli’s Tea Party call came three days later.

Glenn Reynolds blogged a similar defense, which must be devastating news to Rick Santelli, who seems to believe he started the whole thing. So, shhh. We don’t want Santelli’s head to explode.

Unfortunately for all involved, none of this proves the tea parties weren’t astroturf--especially since, as the folks at Sadly, No! have revealed, those earlier protests drew fewer than two dozen people and don't appear related to the "movement" that sprang up later. And Malkin herself appears pretty deeply entrenched with the right-wing cabal funding the tea parties.

So this leaves us with two choices where Rick Santelli is concerned: he was either a shill or a tool. The one thing he does not appear to be, for all of his wishing, is the spark that lit the flame.

Sorry, Rick.