CNBC's Schacknow: When Big Ben Speaks, We Listen

Two Days of Big Ben

I’m sure I’m not the only one who listened to every word of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s Congressional testimony over the past two days. But I AM sure I can say no one is jealous of me, including most of my co-workers. It comes with the Breaking News Desk job description.

No disrespect to Bernanke, who’s as articulate a Fed chairman we’ve ever had. But the second day of his semi-annual testimony is, at best, an exercise in repetition. His prepared statement to the House Financial Services Committee was identical, as it usually is, to the statement given to the Senate Banking Committee on day one. The first day is when the markets move on what he says. The second day is most often a big yawn.

I know what you’re thinking: So why do we put it all on the air?

Well, like they say over at the New York State Lottery, you never know. Someone may ask a question during the Q&A period that prompts a market moving answer. But it didn’t happen today.

By the way, just to show how dedicated I am to the cause, I typed name dekos for each member of the House Financial Services Committee. Did you know there were 69 members? I didn’t. I do now. I even alphabetized them, so the deko operator could find them more quickly. And when I didn’t think they were being used enough, I yelled at the producers as if I’d cooked them dinner and they hadn’t eaten it.
[Editor's note: "dekos" = the subtitle boxes, containing data such as speakers' names, often found at the bottom of news shows.]

That’s one big committee. And now it’s over for a few months. Thank goodness.

Philly Fed Fodder
In a previous blog, I mentioned how the monthly Philly Fed numbers often cause us much angst, given that they come right at the top of “Power Lunch” and involve a live report on the fly by CNBC’s Steve Liesman, with yours truly throwing in production elements.

Usually it goes well, and it did (ultimately) today -- once we got everyone in place. “Morning Call,” which runs from 10 am to 12 noon, had Steve on set monitoring the Bernanke testimony. “Power Lunch,” which runs from 12 noon to 2 pm, had scheduled Steve to be at the Breaking News desk for the noon release of the Philly Fed number. That’s for two reasons: it IS breaking news, after all, plus “Power Lunch” doesn’t use the sets -- Sue Herera and Bill Griffeth go on the air from various points around the newsroom.

Long story short: Steve was given conflicting stories about where he was supposed to go. Ultimately we decided to put Steve at his usual breaking news desk spot, we got the numbers on the air, and Steve did his usual flawless job. And only a few people yelled at each other. Yes, that happens. I won’t name names. Although if the yelling is at me, eventually I might sing like a canary.