Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Warren Buffett: Wall Street's No. 1 Media Manipulator

By Jon Friedman

Warren Buffett must be the sexiest man on television.
All he has to do is open his mouth and the business-television networks come running. The print media do, too.

No matter what he says, they quote him. I am not writing this to diminish Buffett in any way -- simply to point how he successful he is at controlling his message to the media. And isn't that what every celebrity dreams of doing? Buffett could teach them all a master class.

I did a quick Google search just now (late morning of May 6) and came up with more than a dozen notations from earlier today. Buffett says stocks will go a lot higher. (Hey, so do I, but nobody is clamoring for my two cents. Then again, I'm not the Oracle of Omaha, of course).

Naturally, I understand Buffett's appeal. He is one of the most accomplished stock-market prognosticators of all time. If someone can truly possess a genius gene for stock picking then Buffett has one.

But what amuses me, after all these years of watching how Buffett brilliantly manipulates the media, is his success at getting out his words in an unfiltered way -- especially on CNBC, the leading business-TV network by far.

It's not so much WHAT Buffett says on CNBC (or any other channel), really. It is that he speaks up at all.

You see, one of Buffett's truly forward-thinking marketing strategies is to parse out his words of wisdom.

I covered Buffett, as a part of my Wall Street beat, for over a decade and never once did he take my calls (though his handlers in Omaha were polite to a fault about refusing my interview requests over the years).

In this respect, he is as cunning, calculating and devious as Mad Men's Don Draper, who gets kudos among popular culture wags for his blatant ruthlessness. Draper ought to meet Buffet. THAT would be entertaining, all right.

Clearly, Buffett talks to whomever he pleases -- as he well should.

He owed me nothing -- and that hasn't changed. He knew he couldn't much mileage out of talking with me in those instances.

A few well chosen minutes each quarter on CNBC is worth its weight its gold for Buffett. In this respect, he is the ultimate -- and the smartest -- media manipulator on Wall Street.

Read the rest here.

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