Why CNBC's Kneale Should Go To Jail

Dennis Kneale joined his CNBC colleagues today in effusive praise of JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon. After Power Lunch host Bill Griffeth said Dimon was "very entertaining" at an FDIC event and "had a career as an after-dinner speaker," Kneale added that Dimon was a "guy talking about what he knows." And when Kneale's longtime nemesis Charles Gasparino argued that Dimon's comments should be treated more skeptically — "discounted by 50 percent... because there's a degree of flackery here" — Kneale strongly disagreed (clip after the jump). It's odd that Kneale is offering kind words for Dimon rather than bashing the dealmaker, given that Dimon thinks the CNBC talking head should be thrown in jail.

Dimon, you see, was on Charlie Rose's TV show last night, where he said the following about the fall of investment bank Bear Stearns:

Where there is smoke, there's fire... I think the Securities and Exchange Commission should investigate it, okay? I think if someone knowingly starts a rumor or passes on a rumor, they should go to jail.

Set aside, for the moment, the absurd notion of financial markets functioning without the free flow of all kinds of information, rumor included.

Consider, instead, how Dimon's proposed censorship would impact his onetime fan Kneale in light of how Vanity Fair described Kneale's own role in the spreading gossip about Stearns:

By noon, when CNBC anchor Bill Griffeth opened Power Lunch, Bear's stock was down more than $7, to $63. "There are rumors out there that some unnamed Wall Street firm might be having liquidity problems," Griffeth noted. A correspondent on the show, Dennis Kneale, a veteran of The Wall Street Journal, said, "The speculation at this point is that it's Bear Stearns. They're down the most in the market today. Supposedly, a couple of weeks ago, they started looking at a way to try to shop their clearing operations [They] couldn't find a buyer. At least that's what one guy says."

Does Kneale think it's something other than rumormongering to pass on the "supposed" information that comes from "what one guy says?"

More likely, he is just slower on the uptake than his rival Gasparino, who was also depicted by Vanity Fair spreading unvetted information and thus another likely victim of Dimon's prison policy. Perhaps if Dimon has his way, Kneale will have the chance at an extended tutorial of some sort from Gasparino, in their cell.

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[Dealbreaker, Vanity Fair]