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Watch Alex Pareene hilariously spar with CNBC over Jamie Dimon
Whoever arranged for Pareene to face off against the big bank apologists at CNBC deserves a raise, or a medal
Alex Pareene disagrees with Duff McDonald that JP Morgan's monster profits cleanse all sins.
Alex Pareene disagrees with Duff McDonald that JP Morgan's monster profits cleanse all sins. (Screen shot)
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PMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon had a terrible September. Not only does his bank now face a $920 million fine for its London whale trading loss, it was also reported that JP Morgan will pay up to $11 billion in fines and penalties for various other shady dealings. Salon's Alex Pareene has been calling for Dimon's ouster, or even arrest, for more than a year.

So it was something of a surprise when CNBC invited Pareene on over the weekend to discuss JP Morgan's leadership. Whichever producer had the "genius idea" of asking "Pareene on to discuss Jamie Dimon with Dimon’s biggest cheerleaders," says Felix Salmon at Reuters, "the result was truly great television." Watch:

Pareene starts out with the strong point that no other industry would keep on a CEO with this record of regulatory fine. Barclays CEO Bob Diamond was chased out after a $450 million fine, and "$450 million is a rounding error with respect to the kind of fines that Dimon is now talking about paying — $4 billion, $11 billion, $20 billion, who knows where this will stop," says Salmon.

After summing up fellow guest Duff McDonald's defense of JP Morgan as "profits cleanse all sins, and that so long as you're making money, nothing else matters," Salmon continues:

The rest of the interview is a glorious exercise in watching CNBC anchors simply implode in disbelief when faced with the idea that JP Morgan in general, and Jamie Dimon in particular, might be anything other than a glorious icon of capitalist success.... The country was seriously damaged by JP Morgan’s lies and misrepresentations about its mortgages — much more than it would be damaged if the share price went down instead of up. And the public has every reason to want the individuals running JP Morgan to be held accountable when it gets into serious regulatory trouble over and over again. [Reuters]

Salmon isn't the only one tickled by CNBC's reaction to Pareene. He might be the most polite, though.

NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen highlights the video as a case study in financial journalism insularity:

The New York Times' Ravi Somaiya makes a similar point, with a bit more bite:

Anthony De Rosa, now editor in chief at Circa, sees this moment as CNBC's Waterloo:

It's worth noting, for those of you keeping score, that Crossfire returned to CNN earlier this month. Maybe you can't beat the bank after all.

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian, and plays in an Austin rock band.

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