Marketplace Scratch Pad

Conan, Leno and the bankers

Scott Jagow Jan 15, 2010

I wish Congress and Wall Street would act more like late-night TV hosts. Maybe Christopher Dodd could walk into Goldman Sachs and start telling jokes about CEO Lloyd Blankfein. JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon would call Barney Frank “chicken-hearted and gutless” at the financial crisis hearings. Congress might put the American taxpayer up for sale on Craigslist. Bank of America employees could rag on their company’s decisions at a B of A shareholder meeting. The honesty would be welcomed.

I’m enjoying the nationally-televised bashing and trashing going on between the late-night hosts, telling each other how it is right to their faces, scolding their employers in public. Last night, Jimmy Kimmel slammed Leno relentlessly on Leno’s own show:

Conan has been nailing NBC and Leno to the wall every night on NBC’s airwaves. Meanwhile, NBC executive Dick Ebersol says about Conan’s jokes — it was “chicken-hearted and gutless” to blame Leno, a guy he couldn’t beat in the ratings.

Conan responded by putting the Tonight Show up for sale on Craigslist. The posting keeps disappearing (for some reason), so in case that link doesn’t work, here it is:


This is the chance of a lifetime to own your very own late night talk show — guaranteed to last for up to seven months! Really must see to appreciate.

Information for potential buyers:

  • Measures 100′ x 100′ x 32′ — plenty of room for a futon!

  • Designed for 11:35 but can be easily moved

  • Band can be sold separately

  • Buyer must honor Barry Manilow booking next Thursday

MAKE ME YOUR BEST OFFER! (Also willing to trade for Coldplay tickets.)

While the public joking and jabbing might seem juvenile, it can’t be any more juvenile than the wishy-washy, pointless banter currently going on between lawmakers and bankers. I want to see some late night-style verbal punching, some sharp criticism, some anger. No pain, no gain. How about:


This is the chance of a lifetime to own your very own taxpaying public — guaranteed to provide a never-ending source of funding!

  • Take all the risks you want, the American taxpayer will bail you out every time!

  • Designed to pay for public services such as education and law enforcement, but it can easily be used to backstop horrific banking decisions.

  • Must pretend that you can’t exist without the American taxpayer, just until you return to making huge profits. Then you can say you never needed the taxpayer in the first place.

Okay, so maybe it’s not funny. But it’s a lot closer to the truth than what I’m hearing up on Capitol Hill.

The late night fight might be brutal, but at least there’s some honesty flying around.

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