Keeping Jim Cramer Honest

Here's the problem with CNBC: It ostensibly caters to the individual investor, upon whom the network's ratings are based, while at the same time representing the interests of the Wall Street establishment.

Do you see the issue here?

It's that these two positions are mutually exclusive. They can't simultaneously co-exist in the same entity, no matter how hard that entity may or may not try to accommodate them both.

The reigning textbook example had been Maria Bartiromo's indomitable defense of AIG and its former CEO Hank Greenberg for their role in a series of allegedly fraudulent reinsurance transactions entered into more than a decade ago to artificially boost the insurance company's then-waning stock price.

For the record, both AIG and Greenberg settled the charges against them, agreeing to pay fines of $1.6 billion and $15 million, respectively. And lest you think they did so merely to appease the government, the company also went back and restated its earnings to the tune of $2 billion.

Thus, despite Bartiromo's curious insistence to the contrary, the settlements leave little room to dispute that AIG was in all likelihood guilty of the charges alleged. It effectively admitted to it, paid a then-record fine, corrected its earnings, and moved on to greener pastures -- that is to say, underwriting credit default swaps for everyone and his mother in the lead-up to the financial crisis.

The good news for Bartiromo is that this gleaming example of conflicted "reporting" has now been surpassed by her illustrious colleague Jim Cramer. I can't even begin to do the piece justice, so I'd simply encourage you to watch the following video and draw your own conclusions.

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John Maxfield has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends, owns shares of, and has options on AIG. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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