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We now move to February 2006. Jim Cramer and Herb Greenberg, former co-workers at TheStreet.Com and friendly rivals up until Herb’s retirement earlier this year, are together on Cramer’s Mad Money program on CNBC. Many times it seems they agree on almost nothing. But today both of them — in a way comically embellished by Mitchell — are livid.

What are they so upset about? Mitchell does not seem to think you need to know that quite yet. In fact he prefers you to believe that Patrick Byrne’s Miscreants’ Ball speech — given five months ago mind you — is somehow causing some kind of time-lapse rage in two prominent journalists.

Even though it’s Greenberg who is — rather ironically, if you’ve ever seen them in action — portrayed as the one who has completely lost his cool in the initial paragraph, the piece then veers over to Cramer and begins attacking the bejeezus out of him, portraying him, effectively, as the nexus of all “negative” (meaning, bearish) financial journalism.

Again, this is quite ironic when you’re considering that this is Jim Cramer, who closes every edition of Mad Money with the catchphrase, “there’s always a bull market out there somewhere”, and is frequently criticized for being too much of a pollyanna when it comes to the markets.  When he and Greenberg would disagree on a stock, you could make book that it was Cramer taking the bullish side and Greenberg the bearish.

But to be fair, Mitchell does not cite Cramer himself as the author of the negative stories, but rather a nebulous group he terms as “friends of Cramer”, which could (and does) include anyone that ever worked at Cramer’s signature website, thestreet.com, or been a regular guest on Mad Money, or Kudlow & Cramer, or Cramer’s short-lived show on Fox Business, or who worked with Cramer or was one of his many, many contacts during his days running the Cramer Berkowitz hedge fund.  Indeed, if you’re anybody on Wall Street these days, trader, journalist, or whatever, you’re probably no more than three degrees removed from the Reverend Jim-Bob, just by the simple fact that he’s probably the single most prominent personality in financial journalism today.  All in all, it’s a neat way for Mitchell to recast the very interconnected nature of the Wall Street community as a conspiracy.

Mitchell may vividly portray Greenberg’s anger, but it’s not long before he betrays his own, throwing any pretense of objectivity to the wind by referring to Cramer’s associates as “reporter-thugs” who routinely print stories for the express purpose of benefiting the short sellers that are their sources.  And, not content with leaving it at that, Mitchell posits that many of the targets are victims of a double-whammy, so to speak, simultaneously victimized by the selling of “phantom shares”.  The pointing out of which, per Mitchell, leads to a “vicious media smear”.  Apparently this section was intended as a demonstration.

That’s a lot of accusation being thrown around here, and Mitchell does claim to have analyzed thousands of stories to establish the pattern, but if you’re looking for any actual examples you’re reading the wrong section, and, I suspect at this point, the wrong paper.

In fact, the only specific example cited was the coverage of Patrick Byrne’s Miscreants’ Ball presentation, specifically a New York Post piece by Roddy Boyd and Dan Colarusso (both TheStreet.com alumni… GET IT? HUH???) and apparently containing an unflattering picture of Byrne based vaguely on “The X-Files”.  Mitchell also cites one line from the piece without comment:

Patrick Byrne “is not currently under any psychiatric care,” reported the Post, “and [a company spokesman confirmed] he was sober when he gave the presentation.”

One supposes Mitchell was going for a “how dare they!” reaction to his citation.  And I suppose if one has yet to actually attempt to follow the presentation, but is rather trusting Mitchell’s word about its profound and groundbreaking content, I suppose that might be a natural reaction.  But for those who have seen it, I suspect a more common reaction would be something like: “Really.”

So what was rankling Greenberg so much, to the point where Cramer said Greenberg was potentially in a position where he “can’t do his job anymore”?  Mitchell puts that off until the next section, and so I shall do likewise, until next week.

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