The nation's largest brokerage firm took CNBC off its workstation feeds, replacing it with Bloomberg television, in mid-March. The move came in reaction to what Merrill officials termed “popular demand” from brokers. Specifically the firm was rankled by consistent biting remarks from James J. Cramer and Lawrence Kudlow, who co-host a weeknight show on the cable network.
There was no shortage of derision for Cramer, the founder of TheStreet.com, famous for his strong opinions about the market and its participants. “Cramer, to me, is really out there, if you follow what he's been saying,” says an East Coast-based producer. “Bloomberg is more neutral — they just report the news and that's it.”
Of course, with 14,000 brokers not everyone agrees. “Give me a break,” says one. “Management's getting sick of Kudlow and Cramer, but it's stupid. Who doesn't like Merrill? Everyone's got something to say about us.”
With the myriad of information channels coming into the firm, it remains to be seen whether the loss of the channel is a great disservice to its workforce.
But for a firm that prides itself on its tough-talking, hard-charging ways, some think Merrill comes across a bit thin-skinned in this episode.
“Now, when a client calls me and says, ‘Did you see what happened on CNBC?’ we're going to have to say, ‘No, they hurt our feelings,’” one broker says.