Grey Lady Hearts Crazy Curly-Haired Guy

The New York Times can't get enough of us lately.

First, an article about explaining the crisis that featured Mad Money prominently and actually mentioned me by name (all press is good press, especially when, as was the case with this article, it's actually good press!).

And here's Andrew Ross Sorkin's take on the interview Bob Steel, the CEO of Wachovia gave Jim, where he reassured us he had just $10 billion in bad loans, exactly two weeks before his bank had to be saved by Citigroup.

Here's Wachovia's response in the article to Jim's apologetic segment this Monday for getting behind the stock as a play on the passage of the rescue plan: A spokesperson for Mr. Steel defended his appearance, saying, “The environment we were operating in dramatically changed” between then and now. She added, “If you look at his comments, he tempered them by saying, ‘We always do what’s right for shareholders.’”

The environment dramatically changed in two weeks? Remember, we had Steel on after Lehman had gone under. I think they just didn't realize how bad a shape they were in until after the interview. And when he told us, "We always do what's right for shareholders," that was after saying, "We have a great future as an independent company." If you want the context of the whole quotation, Steel said this: "We have a great future as an independent company, but we're a public company. So we're going to do what's right for shareholders, I can promise you that. But we're also focused on the very exciting prospects when we get things right going forward."

That was in response to a question from Jim about whether Steel would sell Wachovia the same way John Thain sold Merrill Lynch, in a way that still made money for shareholders. He wasn't saying, "We might have to be bailed out by another bank with the possibility of wiping out the common stock." He was saying, "We think we can stay independent, but since we're a public company, we're always for sale at the right price." Also, "very exciting prospects going forward"?

I don't want to pile on the guy because his company fell apart. He wasn't to blame for the problems. Jim already went through this in an emotionally wrenching segment, and I think he was earnest on the show. But the spin from his spokesperson is too much.




Cliff Mason is the Senior Writer of CNBC's Mad Money w/Jim Cramer, and has been that program's primary writer, in cooperation with and under the supervision of Jim Cramer, since he began at CNBC as an intern during the summer of 2005. Mason was the author of a column at TheStreet.com during 2007, which he describes as "hilarious, if short-lived." He graduated from Harvard College in 2007. It was at Harvard that Mason learned to multi-task, mastering the art of seeming to pay attention to professors while writing scripts for Mad Money. Mason has co-written two books with Jim Cramer: Jim Cramer's Mad Money: Watch TV, Get Richand Stay Mad For Life: Get Rich, Stay Rich (Make Your Kids Even Richer). He is 100% responsible for any parts of either book that you did not like.

Mason has also had a fruitful relationship with Jim Cramer as his nephew for the last 23 years and will hopefully continue to hold that position for many more as long as he doesn't do anything to get himself kicked out of the family.




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