The Revolution is Being Televised, And It's Made CNBC Entirely Watchable


After reading no fewer than 37 explainers on what's happening with GameStop stock, it's become plainly obvious that this isn't so much a trading story as the latest entree into the slow-motion revolution that's been underway for a years. Just as the creation and proliferation of cryptocurrency fundamentally changed how we think about money, this Eureka moment is shaking the foundation of a power structure that up until this point has been extremely insulated and protected by dubious rules ensuring a populist rebellion would fall far short of the castle walls.

But any illusion of a prevailing status quo is gone. Now, surely, the hedge funds will force rules to be re-written and hypocrisy to reign as they play whack-a-mole against these investors jumping from gathering place to gathering place. It'll be a prolonged process. A back-and-forth for control of the market. Over who gets to tell the story of Wall Street.

The people who have written it in smoky rooms for so long, or a dude named Dave who has found a community online, his friend Emily who just signed up for Robinhood, and any number of nihilists and actual Robin Hoods with the same ultimate goal.

Better minds than mine can dive into the financial ramifications. Yet it's clear that these rogue groups have everyone scared out of their minds — from the hedge funds to the talking heads who have become comfortable with the equilibrium and its deference to billionaires. And honestly, even those cheering on from the sidelines should take a pause and think a few steps down the road about where this all leads because while it's an exhilarating unknown, revolutions are messy and diverge in unexpected ways.

What I do feel comfortable saying is that the past few days have been a sharp deviation from the norm over at CNBC, which is trying to react in real-time to a rapidly-evolving situation. There is high drama around every turn. Members of the donor class grappling with their power and wallets being threatened. On-air anchors trying to make sense of things without alienating the existing audience. Tensions are high.

As a result, the programming has been excellent. Here is a brief snapshot of some of the back-and-forth that's taken place on the cable network.

There are so many more, should you be more interested. There will be so many more in the future, too, because the power struggle is not going to be resolved overnight.

We find ourselves in one of those times where it's the early innings of something big and no one really knows what shape the game is going to take on. It's equal parts exhilarating and concerning. But something is happening, both online and on CNBC, which, for now, is the go-to place for televised coverage of all things long and short.

How do they shape their coverage? How do they cover the story appropriately while maintaining their relationships inside the Old Guard? How close can they be in the goal of giving equal time to both sides? Is that even a goal?

To be clear, this sensation is moving fast. It's almost impossible for a network of that size to be as adaptive as more guerrilla units, essentially assuring that the most useful tool in understanding what's happening is the Internet at-large. Monolithically, the Very Online are trying to tell the story as clearly and concisely as possible. Fractionally, there are places lapping the television product in terms of breadth and depth.

But TV is TV, meaning it's the easiest place to get a large audience in real-time. CNBC is likely benefitting from people like myself who have avoided the station for years, desperate to catch live updates and commentary. The channel is having a moment right now. Either good or bad, depending on perspective.

Donning the Global Brain, it might be worth wondering if there's a burgeoning market for a so-called Underdog Financial Channel. One that makes no secret about propping up populist moves. One that delights in its insurgency.

It's a model that's happened in sports and news. Might be worth buying low on the idea right now.