Thursday, September 26, 2013

Netflix, the Emmys and the power of a happy narrative -- inevitable Motley Fool edition

This is getting sad.

As mentioned in a previous post, those journalists who cover either media or business or both have completely invested in the narrative of Netflix as visionary game changer. As a result they are compelled to put a positive spin on even the worst news such as this weekend's Emmy awards.

I had assumed it was inevitable that Motley Fool would join in. I had not realized, however, that they would actually join twice in the space of as many days, or that their efforts would be so, well, pathetic.

The first, "Why Netflix is still a buy," is merely embarrassing. Though it has a deadline of September 24, no mention is made of the Emmys. Instead we get a standard line about things looking great in Canada and about how people sure do watch a lot of television. All of which simply serves as a come on for one of Motley fool's promotional videos.

It's the second, though, that manages to exceed even Motley fool's standard of you've-got-to-be-kidding.In "Netflix Just Took Another Step Closer to Becoming HBO,"  Tim Beyers makes a full bore run at painting defeat as victory, favorably comparing House of Cards' Emmy performance to that of The Sopranos. Doing so requires grouping basically meaningless Creative Arts Emmys with the majors, underplaying the relatively low prestige of the directing Emmy and completely ignoring the fact that, based on reputation alone, David Fincher (Seven, Fight Club, Zodiac, and The Social Network) was always the favorite to win this category just as Martin Scorsese had been the favorite two years ago.

One of Motley Fool's favorite strategies is to pick a hot company like Netflix or Disney and relentlessly talk it up. Unlike the traditional pump-and-dump, the goal isn't to drive up that individual stock (it's hard to move a Disney); instead what's being pumped is the idea that you're losing money by not being in. This frame of mind makes readers receptive to buying MF's investment books and $199 newsletters even though, based on their columns, they have little to offer other than conventional wisdom and questionable analysis.

MF may not provide the worst investment advice you'll find...

But you can find better places to spend your money.

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