Jon Stewart exposes Apple stock manipulation

By Prince McLean

Published: 03:00 PM EST

Proving once again that the best way to reach Americans’ brain is through their funny bone, Jon Stewart of the Daily Show continued his warpath aimed at irresponsible financial reporting by CNBC, specifically calling Jim Cramer out for his comments on how easy it was to profit from misinformation aimed at Apple.

Calling it “disingenuous at best and criminal at worst,” Stewart grilled Cramer, the host of the frantic energetic “Mad Money” entertainment show, for his act of being “doe-eyed innocent” while celebrating the admittedly illegal shenanigans of hedge fund managers.

Stewart played clips of Cramer describing — shortly before the iPhone was first announced — how hedge fund managers could spread lies about the product through either gullible or willing media sources, creating either fear or excitement that would distort the company’s stock, allowing the fund manager to profit.

Fomenting the market

In the clip filmed for The Street, Cramer notes that this practice of “fomenting the market” is “actually blatantly illegal, but when you have six days and your company may be in doubt because you are down, I think it is really important to foment.” Cramer specifically cited the example of stirring up rumors that Apple’s iPhone would be rejected by both AT&T and Verizon Wireless, and that it wouldn’t be ready to demonstrate in time for Macworld in 2007.

Apple’s stock performance leading up to the 2007 unveiling of the iPhone made it a prime candidate for foment and manipulation, as media figures spewing misinformation could easily cause temporary, panic-induced drops that manipulators could then use to profit dramatically from. Other companies, including Microsoft, had seen so little change in their stock price since the 2000 bubble popped that they simply couldn’t be manipulated as easily.

Fomenting the market against Apple, however, “is very easy, because the people who write about Apple want that story. And you can claim that it is credible because you spoke to someone at Apple, because Apple isn’t in [a position to comment on unannounced products]. It is an ideal short.”
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