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CNBC's Schacknow: Candor Trumps Sensitive Ears

The Housing Economy Is, Um, Bad: The preceding is not quite what D.R. Horton CEO Don Tomnitz said to a Citigroup conference, although it clearly IS what he meant. In what may be seen as one of the most honest and blunt assessments of business conditions ever uttered by a CEO -- at least in a public forum -- Tomnitz said, “2007 is going to suck.”

Yes, I know, this is a family Web site, and we should refrain from such language. Or should we?

In all seriousness, that’s a question we had to deal with all morning today as we reported this story, which took place late Wednesday.

CNBC reporters do 1-minute business reports for a number of NBC TV affiliates each morning, and while no one asked us not to do the story, at least two asked that we refrain from using “suck” on the air.

On CNBC itself, we decided no such restraint was necessary, since, in fact, he said it. And no, we didn’t act like nursery schoolers who’d gotten away with uttering a naughty word in front of the teacher. At least, not much.

We’re not insensitive to people who would rather not hear such language, mild as it might seem in today’s world. But such candor from a CEO -- at least in such blunt terms -- is rare, and it would have been an even bigger disservice to our viewers to omit the comment. In fact, it would have really … stunk.

How Did I Do It? I Cheated: We pride ourselves here at the Breaking News Desk in getting news on the air as quickly as possible. Today, when both the Bank of England and the European Central Bank announced separate interest rate decisions, viewers saw the information on screen within seconds of the announcement.

I’d like to say that I’m a brilliant processor of information and extremely fast at the keyboard. While I am a fast typist (thanks to the tutelage of my 7th grade typing teacher, Mrs. Goldstein of Harry B. Thompson Middle School in Syosset, NY), the truth is this: I drew up the graphics in advance, based on what we were expecting to happen.

Both decisions (Bank of England standing pat, ECB raising rates) came in as expected, so it was a simple matter of telling the director the already-made material was good to go.

This, by the way, is a dangerous practice, and I don’t recommend it in most cases. Once in a while, though, you can do it and impress the heck out of people. Until, of course, you give away your secrets in a public forum. But I’m here to share!

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