Could this be another case of a chastened CNBC succumbing to criticism from the left to improve its image?
Just a day after CNBC named former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean a CNBC contributor, an uncharacteristically soft-spoken CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer, appeared on NBC's March 24 "Today" along with CNBC "Squawk on the Street" co-host and "Street Signs" host Erin Burnett. In a tone similar to the apologetic one he had earlier this month on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," he complimented President Barack Obama's rhetoric toward high executive compensation.
"We have to put the shareholders somewhere in the equation," Cramer said. "When these CEOs make so much money, it hurts the shareholders. We have to be pro-shareholder. The president has become pro-shareholder."
This was quite a change from Cramer's prior stance on Obama's anti-capitalist rhetoric.
For example, Obama criticized Wall Street's moneymaking, including compensation, on Jan. 30, saying there would be a time "for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses. Now's not that time. And that's a message that I intend to send directly to them." Cramer responded by comparing the president to the first head of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin
"Let me tell you something, we heard Lenin," Cramer said on MSNBC's Feb. 2 "Morning Joe." "There was a little snippet last week that was, ‘Now is not the time for profits.' Look - in Lenin's book, ‘What Is to Be Done?' is simple text of what I always thought was for the communists, it was remarkable to hear very similar language from ‘What Is to Be Done?' which is we have no place for profits."
Cramer wasn't the only one falling into line with the administration. Burnett also talked about the need for so-called executive compensation reform.
"We haven't moved past it," Burnett said to host Lester Holt. "It is important. There was a shift now that maybe we'll take a deep breath and maybe try to find a way to reform it because there are needed reforms. Executive compensation in this country is much higher relative to average workers than it is in any other country. But, it is still a big question and they probably do need to stand up and say, ‘Give us some rules on how it's going to work to increase the confidence in the system.'"
"It's out of control!" Cramer added.Traditionally, executive compensation and salaries of every executive employee are decided by the company owners, or the shareholders, through the board of directors and the management team.