Monday, October 24, 2005

The buck stops.

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?


Courtney said...

I feel icky. It's like you're describing my dad.

bdure said...

I find CNBC perhaps the least atrocious of the 24-hour cable infotainment channels. It focuses on business, which is considerably more helpful than focusing on car chases or various ways in which people can die. And if the **** really hits the fan somewhere, they'll cover it, so it's not like you're missing anything.

I often say the A section of a newspaper is an examination of how the world does NOT work, while the Business section (and to a lesser extent the Sports and Life sections) is an examination of how it does.

Neel Mehta said...

C: Your Dad says hi, by the way. Would you do me a favor and gently remind him that sitting two inches away from someone in the steam room is a tad inappropriate?

bdure: Excellent observations. Business TV isn't so bad if Fox News and CNN are the alternatives. CNBC does tend to give the leanest of national news, and there's no pesky, unhelpful hurricane tracker clogging the screen. (Those things lose their utility when the storm reaches land.)

I've purposely avoided the Business section for much of my life, and have only started to face my fear recently. I've come to realize that the WSJ ain't so scary.