CNBC's Lame Segment on China and the Web

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

CNBC's Lame Segment on China and the Web

Shame on Maria Bartiromo, the host and managing editor of CNBC's "The Wall Street Journal Report" (WSJR). On the most recent edition of WSJR that aired this weekend, Bartiromo had two guests discuss whether Google, Microsoft and other tech companies are wrong to placate China's thought-control, totalitarian rulers. Both guests spouted the same message that these tech companies sounded during congressional hearings last week.

But that's no surprise because both guests hailed from the Wall Street world. In fact, one of them was a member of Hewlett Packard's board of directors.

Did Bartiromo actually expect an HP board member to criticize Microsoft or the other tech companies involved? After all, major tech companies tend to come together on issues like this, and, moreover, HP and Microsoft have long been very cozy.

Four years ago, HP and Microsoft announced a major alliance in which HP would advance Microsoft's .NET software in return for being endorsed as a "worldwide prime integrator" for Microsoft. Last summer, HP won the Microsoft Partner of the Year Award for the 3rd time. You don't receive that kind of "honor" unless you're willing to carry Microsoft's water and smile while you're doing it.

CNBC viewers deserved a substantive conversation about this issue. Bartiromo could have delivered it by offering a perspective from the other side -- inviting someone from a human rights group, or Congressmen Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) or Christopher Smith (R-N.J.).

Instead, she moderated a program this past weekend that offered a very skewed, Wall Street-filtered, pro-Silicon Valley perspective.

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