If you watch CNBC enough, you’ll notice it. The persistent use of the word “we” when the reporters are describing the stock market. “We” are rallying, “we” are selling off, “we” are looking to climb here, “we” are concerned about a double-dip, or the price of tea in China, or whatever, you get the point.
Listen, “we” are not the market. We are reporters. “The market” is a place where buyers and sellers come together to, well, buy and sell. “We” report on the outcomes of that buying and selling. I’m certainly not the first person to suggest that CNBC is less than an objective observer, but this “we” thing is like nails on a chalkboard to me.
This is something you just don’t hear elsewhere. You don’t hear sports reporters referring to the teams they cover as “we.” You don’t hear political reporters referring to the politicians and parties they cover as “we.” You don’t hear reporters who cover the military refer to it as “we.” It’s The New York Football Giants, it’s the White House, it’s the military.
But on CNBC, the reporters on the network and the stock market are all one big “we.” It’s a subtle thing. But it points to an almost unconscious association in the speaker’s mind with the subject they’re covering.
It’s an easy thing to slip into it, and I’m sure somewhere along the line I’ve done it myself, but I consciously try to not do it. I was reminded of this yesterday, when talking about the rally on the New Hub. It would’ve been easy to say “we’ve got a rally on our hands.” But for me the only we is the Fourth Estate, and Simon, Bob and I don’t have anything going. The stock market has a rally going (and going nowhere today, incidentally.)
Just needed to get that off my chest. We appreciate your patience.
In case you were wondering: The headline quote, by the way, is from “Sudden Impact,” when Clint Eastwood, as Dirty Harry, standing solitary in a coffee shop that’s being held up, says to the gunmen, “well, we’re not just gonna let you walk out of here.” One robber laughs and says, “who’s we, sucka?”
Harry pulls out his big .357 and says “Smith, Wesson and me,” and proceeds to blow away the gunmen. It’s the last one standing, who grabs a hostage, to whom Harry says, “go ahead, make my day.”
That’s what I say to CNBC: Who’s we, sucka?