The men's locker room in my athletic club has a little lounging area with a plasma TV on the wall and four chairs made of soft black leather. (Apparently, these are perfect for those old men who like to lounge nearly naked after their showers. I feel like I should line my seat with clean towels even though I'm fully dressed.) I go to the gym in the late morning, and usually I can find a few retired regulars (some of whom seem to be there to nap) watching their favorite channel. It's not ESPN or any other sports channel, even though these are somewhat athletic men who probably frequent the local sports books. Instead, they survive on CNBC.
What is it about CNBC that sucks them in? It can't be that ugly dull blue color that takes up 90 percent of the screen. The stock ticker is not that easy to read. Some of the analysts seem to be shouting at the audience. My best guess? Maria Bartiromo. I have a feeling she could ring these guys' closing bell anytime she wants.
Today was an excellent example, as Ms. Bartiromo reported that President Bush had chosen a successor for Alan Greenspan, the long-standing chairman of the Federal Reserve Board and one of the present-day emperors I mentioned many months ago. Among the interest-collecting, elderly white man set, this news was like the selection of a new Pope, if, say, Elizabeth Vargas were reporting it. In other words, they were excited, and maybe a little overexcited. And while I don't know much about Ben Bernanke, there's plenty of time to learn more, as I join my new brethren with a daily helping of Closing Bell on screen and the pages of The Wall Street Journal on hand. Is this what I've become?