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Fighting the Ministry of Misinformation

“A lot of the information being thrown your way,” Cramer told viewers during Thursday’s Mad Money, “is actually misinformation and misdirection.”

Take, for instance, Cash for Clunkers and the first-time homebuyer tax credit, two federal programs that were endlessly slandered by the bears. Clunkers would steal future sales, they said, and a wave of foreclosures would hit the housing market as soon as the tax credit expired. But what happened instead?

November auto sales were good, Cramer said, with Ford Motor doing especially well. And Washington extended the first-time homebuyer tax credit, eliminating the fear of foreclosures. Of course, fingers immediately pointed to the Federal Reserve, the bears predicted that the central bank would allow mortgage rates to rise. But Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke denied that would happen, Cramer said.

In fact, the negative spin on virtually all areas of real estate has been relentless. The specter of “shadow inventory” haunts the residential market, says the common wisdom, and commercial real estate is on the verge of collapse.

But Cramer thinks that 2010 could see a developing housing shortage, not an inventory glut. And some of the newest members of the stock new-high list are commercial real estate investment trusts like Vornado Realty and Simon Property Group . (Cramer said he’s bullish on the iShares Dow Jones US Real Estate ETF , Boston Properties and Federal Realty Trust , if investors want a REIT play.)

So what’s really going on here?

Hedge funds, Cramer said.

“There are plenty of money managers … who need the market to come down,” the Mad Money host said, “especially with fewer than 25 trading days left in the year.”

Whether they’re short sellers, hedge funds who missed the move or managers scrambling to keep clients, Cramer said, these people want to see the market lower. So they run to a story-hungry media and spout their doomsday scenarios, hoping to pressure stocks to their advantage. Think of it as a reverse pump-and-dump.

The key for retail investors, Cramer said, is to recognize that these talking heads have an agenda. And Mad Money viewers need to be as skeptical of the overly bearish as they are the overly bullish.

“The people pushing these negative stories in the face of positive facts,” Cramer said, “they are not your friends.”

Call Cramer: 1-800-743-CNBC

Questions for Cramer? madmoney@cnbc.com

Questions, comments, suggestions for the Mad Money website? madcap@cnbc.com

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