Regular readers know that I have a background in journalism.
I wanted to share some further details of my career. My degree is in Finance. I started working for Reuters in 1968 shortly after they came to the U.S. and started competing directly with Dow Jones. My stock market reporting ended abruptly when I was transferred to the floor of the bustling Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) a few months later to learn the popular commodities markets.
I set up Reuters coverage there and continued to be the ‘floor reporter’ till a tennis injury to my ankle in 1972 forced me off my feet and into our office in the Chicago Board of Trade Building (CBOT). When my ankle healed I moved downstairs to the trading floor there and learned about the international corn and soybean markets. On the CME I had covered livestock futures including the hottest market at the time – pork bellies (bacon). In 1977 I left the CBOT floor to spend a year in London on the news desk there and to learn the other international commodities including gold, silver, coffee, cocoa and sugar.
One of the highlights in wire service reporting on markets is that you need to be perfectly accurate in your stories because anything you write may affect the market and change prices. In the fast moving and highly volatile commodities markets it is easy to see that mistakes could possibly cost traders or commercial firms millions of dollars. I can’t imagine a better training ground for a journalist. Talk about baptism by fire. You always had to have several sources for any story because there was a chance that someone on the other side of the market was going to complain.
The final aspect of that experience is that Reuters had Dow Jones as competition on the stock market and AP and Commodity News Service on the commodities side. It was fierce competition in which seconds made all the difference on our wires. Our mantra at Reuters as ‘Accuracy first; speed second.’ There was no place for mistakes.
I wanted to go into that detail because I have always been proud to be a journalist. In my
20 years with Reuters and three years of teaching journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago I came to understand that journalism was more than a job or a career. The people I worked with – and against – viewed journalism as about one notch below the priesthood. We were serving a higher master than others working for a living. We reported the news, we wrote the truth. Not many job descriptions can say that.
So, it is with a very sorry heart indeed that I read the nature of New York Times reporter and CNBC’s Chief Washington Correspondent, John Harwood, not only not grilling Hillary Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta, but discussing his upcoming interview with Jeb Bush and asking for tips.
The email from September 21, 2015 had the subject line, “what should I ask Jeb…”
Later that month, on Oct. 28, Harwood would go on to moderate the third Republican primary debate, and delivered a performance so obviously biased that even liberal commentators had to admit he had proven conservative suspicions correct.
In a December 2015 email to Podesta, Harwood bragged about his much-criticized debate performance in which he asked Trump “Let’s be honest, is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?”
With my financial background I have watched CNBC for years and have to admit that Harwood always stuck out as ‘leaning to the left.’ I had no idea how far afield he had gone.
Even though I am out of the flow of day to day competitive reporting I still respect what I consider to be my profession. So, seeing this man ‘break his vows’ to the truth as it were and actively try to promote one side makes me sick. It’s easy to call him a whore who sold out his principles for a price, but I think he is worse. He is a traitor to everything that every young (and in my case, old) journalist holds dear. That is reporting the truth. We tell it like it is.
So far, Harwood has not answered any requests for comments on these emails. I think if he had any character, he would resign his position on CNBC following these revelations. But, in view of his actions, I have to doubt it. If the network had any character, however, they would demand it.
I guess if Hillary wins, we know who her press secretary will be.