We Didn’t Say it WASN’T a Press Release

Every morning, we run The Narrative Machine on the past 24 hours worth of financial media to find the most on-narrative (i.e. interconnected and central) stories in financial media. It’s not a list of best articles or articles we think are most interesting … often far from it.

But for whatever reason these are articles that are representative of some sort of chord that has been struck in Narrative-world.

Discretionary Consumption Becomes Law In The Land Of Lincoln [Benzinga via Morningstar]

There are a couple reasons I’m intrigued by this story ranking so high on the Zeitgeist today. The first one is that weed stocks have been remarkably resilient as a part of the financial media Zeitgeist. My suspicion is that this is simply being driven by clicks, and if you write about weed and weed stocks, you’re going to get those clicks in ways that writing about, say, Clorox wouldn’t get you. Doesn’t hurt that Motley Fool’s business model, whatever it was originally, is now basically pitching investments cannabis ideas to your boomer relatives on Facebook, either.

But I’m also fascinated by how often these Benzinga articles keep ranking as highly as they do. Every one we see is syndicated through Morningstar, reads like a news article, transitions to an obvious pitch, and never really discloses that it was really just a press release disguised as news. Is there any chance that the average person researching mutual funds on Morningstar.com, would know that? It’s really misleading, and really disappointing.

You rarely see a They Live Meme-worthy transformation of newsy-looking content to pure pay-to-distribute opinion journalism in the course of a single piece, but well, here we are:

I suppose it goes without saying, but “Why am I reading this NOW?” should be your go-to on just about any site that syndicates content like this as news, sight-unseen. Add Morningstar to that list.


  1. Also, it’s just example number ten thousand of how we’ve lost integrity as a cultural value, which, in my opinion, is part of the widening gyre - is part of what’s breaking us. For sure, a lot of integrity in the past was Integrity!, but at least we were trying to hold to a standard; now, as you and Ben point out, “they aren’t even pretending anymore.”

    A news organization would have cared too much about its reputation for, well, integrity to do what Morningstar (and Forbes) and other news organizations are doing now. If there’s no integrity - real or attempted - then cynicism is the proper response, which just widens the gyre.

  2. Yep! It is amazing what values people will compromise when they are told that losing on any political, cultural or economic battle defined by someone else will be, in all essentials, the end of the world.

  3. It’s just downright exhausting to have to continuously wade through the BS spewing across all media. Sinclair TV, Murdoch press, Bezos as well, NYT, Fox (owned by Disney, are they going to replace Hannity with an AI Prince Charming or other way around, or have they already?)> We’re all frogs living in this bog ‘ol pot o’water and the temperature goes up a degree every day. Class warfare by the working class against the “poor” who get bennies that are just below their grasp because they make 401% of the poverty line? Any wonder why workforce participation is so low? By doing -0- you can live in your parent’s basement pretty well. Pit the Minimum Wage people (whose income should be $10.68 an hour if adjusted by lying US government instead of say ShadowStats, maybe $20, against the people making $40k? They, in turn are set up for outrage against the $100k a year people, and on and on, all the while Steve Wynn puts his elbow through a $100 million piece of “art?” The GINI Index is so out of whack and Art Laffer gets a medal; from President Heel Spur? Good Lord, As Chaster Riley would say, "What a revoltin’ development this is!" It’s a Charlie Foxtrot or revoltin’ developments from interest rate suppression by the Central bankers, to using the 2018 tax cuts to borrow money and buy back stock to increase executive bonuses, locking up children of people seeking ASYLUM in true concentration camps, even citizens of Japanese descent got soap and toothpaste while “interned” during the war. Nobody remembers the St. Louis, Know-Nothings (people today really know nothing about anything; ask 100, no 10 people on the street and see how many of the freedoms guaranteed by the 1st amendment they can recite? First amendment to what? Give me Novocain. I’ll need some information first; Just the basic facts; Can you show me where it hurts? Are we becoming comfortably numb, thanks to https://www.sacklergallery.com. ugh, keep on keeping on!

Continue the discussion at the Epsilon Theory Forum


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