It’s been a full two weeks since I’ve been able to blog about anything and over that time, I’ve been building up one doozy of a rant. In this instance, the seemingly willful lack of journalistic integrity from CNBC, the self anointed “world leader in business news” is at fault. It isn’t often that the business behind art makes it to television news so I was initially enthusiastic to see CNBC’s report on the economics of opera. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for enthusiasm to degrade into disgust…
It was clear that this was going to be a hack report when in the opening sentence, the affected tone of the commentator alone made it seem as though spending $282 million on the arts was in-and-of itself a repulsive excess. The commentator was referring to The Metropolitain Opera’s annual budget and followed up that opening gem by saying “Lucky, none of that was tax payer money” (psst, don’t let CNBC know The Met does receive public funding).
From there, the report spiraled down into an embarrassing display of overt ignorance and apparently willful disregard for basic journalistic integrity. Not only is it clear that the commentators know nothing about the business behind performing arts but they harbor a clear bias against professional arts managers. Here’s the video from the segment:
Here are some of CNBC’s more awkward chestnuts:
- Assuming performing arts orgs operate primarily from earned income.
- Declaring, without corroborative data, that NYC is incapable of supporting The Met at the current budget level and that it is mismanaged.
- Declaring that opera is only suited as entertainment for “the sveltes.”
- Part of The Met’s problem is that they don’t play the same show for two weeks in a row.
- All unions are bad and are the source of all business related financial problems in the arts.
All of this from the same network that had to have one of its financial super stars, Jim Cramer, verbally paddled into submission by comedian Jon Stewart, for playing fast and loose with public trust; the result of which was an abuse of journalistic standards and actually contributing to the severity of the economic downturn. Clearly, CNBC didn’t learn much from that experience.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Jim Cramer Extended Interview Pt. 1|
Unfortunately, the arts don’t have a vehicle like The Daily Show or spokesperson with the reach Jon Stewart brings to the table so we’ll have to implement a response via grass roots efforts. Here’s what you should do:
- Write a complaint letter to CNBC. Yes, deaf ears and all but it’s a start. You can contact them at https://register.cnbc.com/email/EmailSupport.jsp – just make sure you select “complaint” from the dropdown menu associated with the subject field.
- Thank them for airing a segment on the arts business but insist that they air an equal-time response to the above segment and from here on out, bring in a variety of arts business experts when examining arts issues.
- Boycott their network for no less than a full week.
If CNBC’s Met segment is representative of all their financial reporting, it’s frightening to imagine just how badly this “world leader in business news” is manipulating the economy as a result of shoddy reporting.