News coverage in the United States–even the world–has been dominated by the fiscal cliff drama, our own legislative soap opera finally crescendoing to its (anti) climatic conclusion. All other stories seem to have been relegated to digressive footnotes, quick parenthetical mentions while fiscal cliff voyeurism rages on. The notable exception has been CNBC, the supposed colossus of business news, which passed on the story of the year to air repeats of Mob Money. Apparently, their crackerjack team of business reporters have yet to return from holiday vacation.
Keep in mind the stakes of the fiscal cliff imbroglio–potentially massive tax hikes, historic spending increases, dangerously ballooning deficits, the confidence of an already dejected market. Every major network seems to have understood that this is the central event in American politics: FBN, MSNBC, FNC, CNN, Bloomberg, even CNBC World ran the story as it unfolded. This means CNBC’s foreign viewers were better informed than their American counterparts on the state of the US economy.
CNBC’s oversight is even more inexplicable since they’ve been running a special two month long series, idiotically titled “Rise Above”, about magically transcending partisan political cleavages to affect a resolution to the fiscal cliff stalemate. And even once a deal finally surfaced, they still refused to shift their attention to coverage of the crucial moment.
CNBC claims to be “First in Business Worldwide”, the cream of business news coverage. But dropping the ball on major news has become a sloppy pattern for them, slow on the draw in a world that moves at the speed of light. It’s hard to run a business news network on banker’s hours.