JPMorgan 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 comedy of journalists in a bubble scrambling to stay in that bubble. If you missed it over the weekend, this clip http://t.co/EP8O45h2ul
— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) September 30, 2013
The New York Times' Ravi Somaiya makes a similar point, with a bit more bite:
— Ravi Somaiya (@ravisomaiya) September 29, 2013
Anthony De Rosa, now editor in chief at Circa, sees this moment as CNBC's Waterloo:
— Anthony De Rosa (@AntDeRosa) September 29, 2013
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.