WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2022
...for the low price of $500: Today, at the start of Morning Joe, we had a Groundhog Day moment.
The gang had finished a brief discussion of last evening's sports event. At that point, Mika broke in, saying something a great deal like this:
But we start with today's top story: More bad news for Donald Trump.
Moee bad news for Donald Trump! On the corporate channel in question, that has been the day's top story for something like the past five years!
On the cable news channel in question, it's always more news for Trump. He's constantly on his way to jail. Mueller has already reviewed his tax records--the tax records Mueller never sought.
Today, the bad news involved some legal matter so tangential, and so hard to explain, that it barely appears in the morning's newspapers. That said:
Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Jail Jail Jail Jail Jail!
Starting at 4 P.M. each day, this is the channel's basic news diet right on through till midnight. At 6 A.M., with sports talk done, it starts all over again.
In this way, our blue tribe's favorite "cable news" channel pleasures and dumbs us way down.
As next month's possible debacle approaches, voters are concerned with such topics as inflation, crime and the border. On our tribe's channel, we hear about Donald J. Trump going to jail (or getting sued), and we hear about little else.
This practice is known as "selling the car." It's very good for corporate profits, and for the salaries of "talent."
Last Friday night, the talent involved in this practice included the following players:
Tali Farhadian Weinstein
Ruhle is the anchor of The 11th Hour, the program which closes the channel's news day. To our surprise, it seems to us that she's done rather poorly since she took over the show in the wake of Bran Williams' departure.
Last Friday night, Alicia Menendez was serving as guest host. As we noted yesterday, she strikes us as sharper and less phony than most examples of "talent" on this "news channel's" air.
This brings us to Tali Farhadian Weinstein, an MSNBC legal analyst. As we've noted in the past few days, Farhadian Weinstein is a highly accomplished person, starting with her term as a Rhodes Scholar after graduating from Yale.
In her year on MSNBC, Farhadian Weinstein has struck as being completely sincere. She has also struck us as someone who might be somewhat disinclined to rock boats, a tendency which may not be unknown among highly successful people.
On last Friday's program, Farhadian Weinstein gave perfect voice to that day's tribal script. As we noted yesterday, we don't necessarily agree with what she said. In fairness, though, let us be clear—
Everyone was saying the same thing that night, all across the tribe.
We were struck by the scripted quality of Farhadian Weinstein's presentation. We decided to check her bio again—and when we did, we saw it again:
She isn't simply highly accomplished, although she certainly is. She's also extremely wealthy, and she's very well connected within Gotham's power elite.
Farhadian Weinstein is highly accomplished. She strikes us as a thoroughly decent person, and as wholly sincere.
That said, how wealthy is Farhadian Weinstein? The leading authority on the question offers a minor hint here:
In November 2010, Farhadian married hedge-fund manager Boaz Weinstein, whom she had met while attending a book party at the UJA-Federation of New York, at the Central Synagogue in Manhattan. In 2012, they purchased a $25.5 million property on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, from the estate of Huguette Clark.
Ten years ago, they purchased a $25.5 million property, the property in which they live. For the record, the property in question is an apartment. It isn't even a house!
Instantly, let's be clear:
There's nothing "wrong" with purchasing a $25 million apartment—an apartment which was said to need a lot of work. Farhadian Weinstein did absorb a certain amount of snark and grief—in this case, from one of her self-described friends from law school at Yale.
There's also nothing automatically "wrong" with being a hedge fund trader. For the record, here is the leading authority's capsule account of Boaz Weinstein's hugely successful financial career:
Weinstein joined Deutsche Bank in January 1998, following several traders who moved over to the firm. He became the only person at the bank trading credit default swaps (CDS), insurance policies that payout when borrowers default. Deutsche Bank was interested in expanding its operations in the CDS market having just acquired Bankers Trust, the firm that created credit default swaps in the early 1990s.
During his first year at Deutsche Bank, Weinstein netted significant gains for the German bank during the chaos created by Russia defaulting on its loans and the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management, a hedge fund that was heavily leveraged. He was promoted to vice president of Deutsche Bank in 1999. When Weinstein had begun working at Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan was the only other major bank trading in CDS and only a few trades a day occurred in the market. By a decade later, CDS trading had expanded into a multi-trillion-dollar market involving numerous major banks.
In April 2009, Weinstein hired 15 members of his former team to form Saba Capital Management, a credit-focused hedge fund based out of the Chrysler Building in Manhattan. He had left Deutsche Bank two months before, and his former employer had agreed to the move years in advance and to become one of Saba's main brokers...
Saba began trading with $140–160 million in funds. By November 2010, the firm had raised $1.8 billion in funds with which to trade and was up 10% that year. In March 2011, Saba was listed as the fastest growing hedge fund in 2010 by Absolute Return + Alpha. Weinstein was also included in Fortune's 40 Under 40 list in 2010 and 2011.
In 2012, Weinstein profited from a notable loss incurred by JPMorgan Chase on account of a failed investment in credit derivatives attributed to a trader at JPMorgan who was later nicknamed the "London Whale."
The history proceeds from there. We don't have the slightest idea what any of that may mean.
We're not suggesting, in any way, that there's anything "wrong" with Boaz Weinstein's financial career. It's entirely possible that his career has been a force for the public good.
That said, it was a bit intriguing to recall the fact that Weinstein was a hedge fund guy. In certain circles, every9ne is! Here's the history of the start of Ruhle's career:
Prior to joining Bloomberg [News], Ruhle spent 14 years working in the finance industry. While in college, she spent a summer interning for Merrill Lynch. In 1997, she joined Credit Suisse where she spent six years working in hedge fund sales. During her time at Credit Suisse First Boston, she served as a vice president and became the highest producing credit derivatives salesperson in the United States.
In 2003, Ruhle joined Deutsche Bank as a credit salesperson covering hedge funds. She ended her eight-year career there as a managing director in Global Markets Senior Relationship Management. While at Deutsche Bank, Ruhle founded the Global Market Women's Network to help women move into leadership roles at the company.
She earned her bones in hedge funds too! In some circles, everyone does!
For the record, we think Ruhle has done poorly as host of The 11th Hour. Based on her work in the daytime hours, we've been surprised by the poor performance.
That said, we have no reason to doubt the fact she is a good, decent person. That isn't the nature of the rumination we offer you today. The point we would make is this:
We mentioned three people as we began—Ruhle, Menendez and Farhadian Weinstein. Like others you see on "cable news" shows, they were presumably chosen for their posts because, among other attributes, they come across well on the air.
That said, all three are deeply connected within your failing nation's power elite. At least one of the three is enormously wealthy. These facts may not occur to you as you watch them on the air.
Of the three, we'd list Menendez as the best performer. According to the leading authority, she was a highly-regarded Harvard graduate. Also, she's the daughter of Robert Menendez, the New Jersey senator.
Farhadian Weinstein is massively wealthy. The money in question comes from the hedge fund game, the same game in which Ruhle started out.
The people you see on your "cable news" screen have been programmed to tell you that they are all each other's "dear friends." They do so in robotic fashion, night after night after night.
Through this repetitive branding strategy, we viewers are secretly given the secret thought that they are our friends too. We may not realize that they come from a highly exclusive part of the world—from "somewhere [we]'ve never traveled."
People find their way into that rarefied air in various ways. Some are born inside the power elite. Some work their way to that perch.
Along the way, you aren't encouraged to know how much these people are paid, or to understand the nature of their social standing. Today, Rachel is widely said to be "earning" $30 million per year, but you aren't encouraged to know such things, or to wonder what various people might be willing to do for such cash.
They suggest to us that they're all "dear friends," and there may be a germ of truth to that. Example:
Through Getty Images, you can purchase this photo of Ruhle, Weinstein and Farhadian Weinstein posing together at the Whitney Biennial Gala back in 2014.
You can purchase the photo for as little as $175, or as much as $499. You can also view the photo at the Truthout site, accompanying a report which carries this scolding headline:
Leading Manhattan DA Candidate Has Repeatedly Paid Almost No Federal Income Tax
We have no idea.
Our point today is simple:
The people you see on "cable news" may not be like you and me. From the way they get presented, the depth of the difference may not be instantly clear.
(Mike Barnicle is MSNBC's official "regular guy." Who would have guessed that Barnicle's wife is or was vice chair of Bank of America and chair of the board of Bank of America Europe?)
There's nothing "wrong' with any of the behaviors we have mentioned today. However, we will say this:
People like these may not be inclined to understand the interests of the hundred million people who will be voting next month.
They may be living inside a bubble—inside a world in which they and their similars only care about Trump Trump Trump Trump Jail.
Inflation doesn't bother these people. Imaginably, in certain cases, neither does anything else.
Also, extreme high achievers of this type may not be inclined to rock boats. They may be inclined to "go along to get along"—to work from establishment script.
We had a Groundhog Day moment today. It's like that every day the week. As cosseted pundits script us this way, are we on our way to a debacle?
Do these people know, or care, what the vast range of voters might think?
Still coming: When Ezra interviewed Rachel