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Interview with Boone Pickens; Relief Efforts After Tsunami Painfully Slow; A Look At How Stars Are Made
Aired June 25, 2005 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, IN THE MONEY: A team of search specialists from Texas has joined in on the hunt for Holloway, the crew includes four highly specialized search dogs.
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I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN Center in Atlanta. More news at the bottom of the hour. IN THE MONEY begins right now.
ANNOUNCER: From New York City, America's financial capital, this is IN THE MONEY.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR, IN THE MONEY: Welcome to IN THE MONEY. I'm Christine Romans sitting in for Jack Cafferty.
Coming up on today's program, pain at the pump. We will let a guy who made a fortune in oil tell you where gases prices could be headed. We'll speak with Boone Pickens.
Plus forgotten, but not gone. Disasters like the Asian tsunami don't end when the coverage does. Six months after the waves hit, see where the relief effort stands today.
And winning the fame game. Stars are not born, they're made. We'll look at the machinery that turns a face in the crowd into a celebrity.
Joining me today, a couple of IN THE MONEY celebrities, "Fortune" magazine Editor-at-large Andy Serwer, and Money.com Managing Editor Allen Wastler.
Gentlemen, a big Supreme Court ruling this week. A very narrow victory for the government and companies that want to expand eminent domain, taking people's homes to make way for economic development.
This isn't for roads or public schools or to clear out blighted areas, but to turn over for private developers to turn people's homes into developments?
ANDY SERWER, CNN ANCHOR, IN THE MONEY: Yeah. I think it's very unexpected and startling in many ways. And as you said, everyone sort of understands if you have a house that has to get demolished for a new superhighway or even park. In this instance, we are talking about economic development. It's a big victory for big stores like Wal-Mart and like Target, et cetera, because what they're going to do is come in and try to help these towns get one of these areas developed. A lot of people are very upset about that.
ALLEN WASTLER, CNN ANCHOR, IN THE MONEY: Atrocious decision. I think it is going to feed the real estate bubble, too. What's going to happen, even if you don't own the land where the development is likely to go, if you can get the land right next to it -- ah, maybe that will put me in a prime position. So you will see more and more of this trying to play the real estate game going in there.
And also local towns, I mean we have a lot of corruption in this country, but local towns tend to be really ripe for it. Well, my brother-in-law happens to have a development company. He says we would bring all sorts of jobs. You are just opening the door.
ROMANS: You know there's job creation, and that's what the majority wrote in this opinion. This will create jobs. That's a part of public growth and economic development. That's assuming there is not corruption between companies and developers and local politicians at the -- you know, at the mercy -- or the people who are at their mercy in some of the areas -- waterfront areas in particular. And in New York City where we live, a lot of folks here are saying if you look at someplace like San Francisco or New York City, there could be a lot of reasons to take private property for economic developments in places like this.
SERWER: You can justify it anywhere, right?
ROMANS: I guess so. All right, gentlemen. Great.
Here's a phrase to chill the blood of the great American motorist, $3 a gallon for gasoline. Oil tycoon Boone Pickens thinks that's not just possible, but it's on the way. Some of us on the program were wondering this week just how high gas prices will have to go before drivers start cutting back.
We wanted to ask Boone Pickens for his take on that, and see what he makes of the prospects at the pump. He is the chairman of BP Capital Management, a billion-dollar hedge fund.
Mr. Pickens, welcome to the program.
BOONE PICKENS, CHAIRMAN, BP CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: Thank you.
ROMANS: First, I have to say congratulations. Well below $50 a barrel, you were telling us that you thought oil prices were going to go to $60. They touched $60 this week. You also made the prediction that $3 a gallon gasoline is on the way.
Are we going to see that?
PICKENS: We'll see it within a year. You know, we have $5 gasoline now in Europe. And so it is -- I think -- in this country, we kind of focus of course on our gas pump, but the energy situation is global. And you know, if you are going to produce 84 million barrels of oil and then divvy it up around the world and you have gasoline in Europe at $5, and in the United States at $2.20, eventually, well, it's going to have to move up.
Now, I know that there are taxes involved in the pricing of gasoline around the world, too. But I do think you're going to see gasoline prices move up to $3 within a year from now.
SERWER: Boone, obviously you have been around the oil patch for quite a while, but so has Lee Raymond, the CEO of ExxonMobil. I don't think he sees quite eye-to-eye with you. He suggests that Exxon is not raising its pricing assumption as it is going ahead and making new business decisions, suggesting that it's not quite the paradigm shift that I think people in your camp think it is.
Exactly why do you think that the price of oil is going to go up? I understand gasoline because of refining shortages, but what about oil?
PICKENS: You know, Lee and I are friends, but I -- I have a lot more experience than Lee does. You know that. But I don't know -- I mean, you know, Exxon is a tremendously successful company.
But I'm focused on the supply side, and I just don't believe that the world can produce over 84 or 85 million barrels a day. I think that's the difference that -- where Lee and I are on it. He believes that it's -- that the system is capable of more than I believe it is.
WASTLER: Well, Mr. Pickens, is that situation because there's just not enough oil in the ground anymore? Or that we haven't done enough development around the world in some of the new places where they're finding oil -- we haven't done enough development to get the oil out of the ground? Which is it, exploration or production?
PICKENS: Well if you look at the, you know, the large oilfields that have been found -- and most of them have been found, you know, in the past and none very recent -- so I think that our -- the technicians, the geophysicists and geologists and engineers around the world have done a great job of finding the oil. I don't think there's that much oil left to be found. That's why I don't believe that you can increase the supply beyond 84 or 85 million barrel as day.
ROMANS: Boone, at what point do American consumers and American businesses slow down on their insatiable thirst for oil? At what price do they start to pull back on demand? Or is this the kind of economic machine that just doesn't -- we'll find a way to pay for it?
PICKENS: You know, it's different. This is a little different than, you know, back in the 1970's when we saw oil prices fly up. If you take all the factors, inflation and adjust for the highest price in the past, it would be somewhere around $90 a barrel now. So, you could say that we have been here before.
And what did it do then? It caused us problems. But I'm not so sure that oil and -- is near as big a factor today as it was then. I'm not sure. We whistled through $50 a barrel pretty fast, and it didn't seem to cause any problems. I don't know whether we can whistle through $60 and beyond. I don't know. But I do believe this -- that the fourth quarter this year is maybe going to be the most interesting quarter that I have ever experienced in my 50 years in the oil industry.
I think we're coming up on a brick wall very fast. If the projections for 86 million barrels a day demand holds up, I don't see how we can service 86 demands with 84 supplies.
SERWER: That sounds like you're talking about $70-a-barrel oil. As an oil guy, though, are you concerned about our reliance upon the Middle East for oil supplies?
My understanding is there is new oil, but it's in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Libya. Does that bother you?
PICKENS: Well, I mean, look at what we're importing now. We're importing almost 60 percent of the crude supply. We take it from anywhere we can get it. The biggest suppliers for us are Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, but they're all about the same size, a little under 2 million or over 2 million barrels a day. So am I concerned about it. I don't know what I can do about it.
I don't know what anybody can do about it really, because where are we going to get the oil from?
We have to get it from those spots that are producers and oil is available to us. I think that we can do some things differently than we're doing, and I think our energy bill that's struggling through the Congress right now, I think it should be passed, and whatever we can gain from that, we'll move forward with it. It's not going to solve the overall problem for us, though.
ROMANS: Let me ask you one question. We're out of time, but I'm really interested in your point of view on this Chinese oil company wanting to buy Unocal. There's already some hue and cry in Congress that this is a command and control economy, a communist country, and buying a very important multinational asset.
What do you think about that?
PICKENS: I'm in agreement with Lee Raymond on this that I don't think it's something that our government would try to block or stop. It's an $18 billion deal. It's insignificant in the overall situation. If somebody -- if the Chinese made an offer for Exxon, I don't know -- I don't know how all of us would feel about that.
SERWER: How Lee would feel about that.
PICKENS: That's right, how Lee would feel about that. But I think that Unocal is something that you just let the market forces take over on it.
ROMANS: All right. Boone Pickens. Thank you so much, BP Capital. Thank you.
When we come back, even if you don't see it here, it's still going on there. Long after disasters fade out of the news, the consequences go on. Six months after the Asian tsunami, find out where the aid stands today.
Plus, checking out Wynn Dixie. Says it will cut hundreds of stores as part of its Chapter 11 reorganization plan. Find out how Wall Street likes that idea.
And chasing fame. The paparazzi love Paris Hilton, but what does she do to deserve that attention? We'll look at what it takes to make a celebrity these days.
SERWER: When the tsunami hit Asia and Africa six months ago, it was all over the news, and the viewing audience around the world responded by opening up their wallets. The thing about news is, it's about what's new. Weeks after the waves hit, the tsunami story was, in news terms, getting old. Many of the reporters covering it moved on. But like other humanitarian disasters, the impact of the tsunami is lasting longer than the coverage.
For a look the at how that works and where the tsunami aid effort stands today, we're joined by Afshan Khan. She is the deputy director of the Emergency Operation Center for UNICEF.
Afshan, welcome to the program. I guess if you can start off by giving us an update about where things stand across this wide geographic area?
AFSHAN KHAN, UNICEF: Thanks. It's a pleasure to be here today. I wanted to say first and foremost, the relief efforts and public support has helped really to increase the amount of assistance we have been able to provide for people. More than 1 million kids have been immunized. A million people have sanitation and water. Half a million children have received school in a box in Indonesia alone. There's still a lot more that remains to be done. I think with more than half a million people feared lost or affected by the crisis and several others dead, a quarter of a million dead, we have a real long-term catastrophe this we have to deal with here -- that it's not just about reclaiming lives, and it's also about rebuilding roads, schools, hospital, and health centers.
ROMANS: Millions of Americans gave money to this effort to a variety of different charities. The United States really topped the list in terms of people, not even necessarily governments, giving money.
Where can you tell people their money has gone? And is there a need right now to sort of encourage people to make good on some of those pledges?
KHAN: I think what we have seen is a tremendous response to the relief effort. UNICEF received more than $522 million from contributors. We have been able to invest very heavily in education, in getting kids back into schools. In Sri Lanka alone, more than 90 percent of the children are back in school. We have seen a tremendous effort in schools, education, helping children trace their families and their parents. So that's been a huge investment.
I think that there's still some significant remaining challenges, particularly in rebuilding infrastructure, rebuilding roads and rebuilding some of the structures that were destroyed, whether they're hospitals, health centers or schools.
WASTLER: Ms. Khan, I kind of wonder when giving to charities when something terrible like the tsunami happens, everybody just starts throwing money at it, but I kind of wonder how effective that hot money, so to speak, is, versus money that's given early on when things are calmer and can be invested in infrastructure and the basic networks that help a country bounce back.
Is that true? Or is that a misconception on my part?
KHAN: I think the immediate relief phase is extremely important. I don't -- I think we have to recognize that if people hadn't had been so generous, we would never have been able to save so many lives. The fact that we didn't see an outbreak of epidemics and disease like cholera or measles was partly due to the fact that people gave funds quickly. We were able to immunize more than a million children, and I think that is an extremely important part of it.
I think that the challenge is for people to recognize that long- term reconstruction and rebuilding will take years. It's not only about bricks and mortar. In Banda Aceh alone, more than half of the state's health workers were killed and a third of the teachers were lost. So it is retraining people and that will take a long time.
So I think the efforts that rebuilding and the resources needed for that need to be recognized as something important. As UNICEF is there before, after and during the crisis, and will continue that work.
SERWER: Let me ask you, what relief efforts are being directed towards preventing this kind of disaster from occurring again?
Obviously, you cannot prevent tsunamis. But in terms of buoy warning systems and in terms of -- you mentioned infrastructure in places like Banda Aceh -- in terms of roads and helicopter landing pads, more hospitals, more awareness and warning systems on the coastline, is that being addressed?
KAHN: Yeah. I think you have raised an extremely important point. One of the things we recognized was there was insufficient preparedness. There wasn't an early warning system for that part of the region in terms of dealing with tsunamis, or even in terms of typhoons. So that's now being put into place with support from the U.N.
I think that the second thing is just making sure that the public is aware of what to do in a crisis and that means teaching children in schools what to do to prepare in the event of a disaster -- whether it's a hurricane, whether it's an earthquake or anything else -- and making that part of the school curriculum.
Then it's also building capacities of government so that government officials know what to do in the event of a crisis and are able to help support their communities in the same way they do, say in Florida here.
ROMANS: Afshan, let me ask you quickly, in Indonesia, there was a recovery minister who recently said that he was concerned about the turf wars among some of the non-governmental organizations who were trying to rebuild his country, and he was hoping that the N.G.O.'s and the people who were trying to do such good work there can put some of their turf wars aside as this recovery and reconstruction continues.
Have you seen or heard any of that?
KHAN: I think we have to be cognizant of the fact that the scale of this disaster was enormous and the response to it was huge, whether it was military support or whether it was N.G.O.'s or on the ground. We have seen the importance of coordinating those relief efforts, whether it's supplies coming into a country, or whether it's people on the ground.
UNICEF has played a key role in coordinating three sectors -- education, health and water and sanitation. And we have worked very closely with our N.G.O. partners to do that. So investment and coordination is another key aspect. And working to strengthen national governments and local capacities is critically important in the long run.
WASTLER: Afshahn Khah of UNICEF, thank you so much for your work. And thank you for joining us on IN THE MONEY.
KHAN: Thank you
WASTLER: OK. Coming up after the break, a little less super. The Wynn Dixie Supermarket chain is making cutbacks in staff and stores. See what that's doing to the stock.
Also, forget about golf courses and rocking chairs. See how older workers are set to bust those retirement age stereotypes and transform the American economy.
And do you know more about Katie and Tom than you do about your own next-door neighbor? Mm-hmm. You're not alone. Find out why Americans have become so celebrity obsessed. We'll have one scholar's pick.
ROMANS: Now let's take a look at the week's top stories in our "Money Minute."
A federal judge slapped Adelphia Communications founder John Rigas with a 15-year prison sentence for looting his own company. Since Rigas is 80 years old and reportedly in poor health, this is essentially a life sentence. His son Timothy was hit with a 20-year term.
Score another one for the machines. California and Virginia have cleared the way for prescription drug dispensing A.T.M.'s. The two states will first require customers to fill a prescription with a pharmacist before they can get and pay for refills at a vending machine inside drugstores.
And Dennis Kozlowski's own words are coming back to haunt him. The "Wall Street Journal" reports that the former Tyco CEO once wrote a letter calling for a maximum prison sentence for a former Tyco exec who embezzled $1 million in the 1990's. In the letter, Kozlowski described embezzlement as a - quote -- "egregious crime against society." Kozlowski is now awaiting sentencing for stealing tens of millions of dollars from Tyco.
SERWER: Also this week, the supermarket chain Wynn Dixie announced it's closing more than a third of its stores, 329 in all. The company is facing stiff competition from Wal-Mart on the one end, and from higher-end grocers like Whole Foods on the other.
Wynn Dixie already declared bankruptcy back in February. The company is now hoping to get leaner and meaner. That makes Wynn Dixie -- bankrupt though it may be -- our "Stock of the Week".
We'll also talk about the supermarket sector as well.
And you know, this business used to be simple, you guys. You put the food out and they come buy it. What happened is when Wal-Mart got into the business, low margins got even lower. You could not compete with them on price, and you got to do something different. We have seen Whole Foods with all their fancy schmancy organic stuff. And you also see other companies doing prepared foods. Those are the things; you got to make your decision here.
ROMANS: There's also this Trader Joe's and some other names as well. So on the one hand, they're getting squeezed by the low-cost Wal-Mart, and on the other hand you have the differentiation that is starting to make consumers want to look for something new. And the old venerable brand name like Wynn Dixie has to cut off hundreds of stores and lay off thousands of employees.
WASTLER: When you're only making one penny for every dollar that you take in, in the grocery business, there's not a lot to play with. But I kind of wonder if the middle chains, like the Wynn Dixies of the world, the A & P's and the Stop n Shop's, in the vice that we have pointed out with them, I'm not sure that they can actually change their stripes. A trip to the grocery store is a trip to the grocery store for one of these places. Whole Foods, you are going for the experience. But I don't think that my local A & P can do a quick shift and become as enjoyable as Whole Foods like that.
ROMANS: How much of it comes down to real estate and unions? I mean those are two important things -- that is, where the store is and it is how much they are paying for labor, too. SERWER: We saw that in California when the unions were busted by Wal-Mart coming in and the other chains have to try to lower their contracts. But you can compete against Wal-Mart. I mean Food Lion, which had problems, has a new concept called Blooms, which has a lot of prepared foods and flowers and that stuff.
You get tired of companies saying, it's all Wal-Mart's fault. Wynn Dixie lays off 22,000 people. Blame Wal-Mart. I mean you have Best Buy out there, you got Bed, Bath and Beyond and all these other companies are figuring out a way to compete against Wal-Mart. It's not just them.
ROMANS: If you are looking quickly at stock in the space, I mean what kind of stock do you buy? Do you want to buy a supermarket stock or do you not buy one?
WASTLER: I say you don't buy. I mean it's too volatile a business right now. The margins are too low. There's no -- stay away.
SERWER: It was dominated by Wall Street with Kroeger and Safeway and Albertson's had trouble, it's not a pretty picture out there. But obviously, we'll be following it because we'll all be going to their stores.
SERWER: Can't avoid that.
All right. Coming up on IN THE MONEY, you can keep your golf course. More and more Americans are going to work well beyond retirement age. See what that means for the U.S. economy.
Plus, seeing stars? The mainstream media is going positively ga- ga over celebrities. We'll look at what's really behind the love affair.
And dangerous curves -- don't send a man to do a -- oh, that's ugly. We'll show you why on our "Fun Site of the Week".
WHITFIELD: Hello. I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN Center in Atlanta.
"Now In the News".
Authorities in Camden, New Jersey have ruled the deaths of three young boys accidental. The bodies of the five, six, and 11-year-old boys were found yesterday in the trunk of a car. Autopsy results showed that the boys suffocated. Authorities say there were no signs of foul play.
In Iran, the hard-line conservative mayor of Tehran is celebrating a landslide victory in yesterday's presidential runoff election. Mohoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner today with more than 61 percent of the vote. Former Iranian President Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani finished with 36 percent.
Experience the power of CNN video on your computer. Log on to CNN.com and click on the video link and browse for the video that you want to see, and watch what you want and whenever you want free at CNN.com.
I'll have the day's news at the top of the hour. Now back to more of IN THE MONEY.
SERWER: If you think retirement at age 65 isn't a realistic goal, you might be right. My next guest says the baby boomer generation will not box up their cubicles in droves once they hit that magic age. He predicts many boomers will keep on working and not because they have to, but because they want to. What impact will this have on the economy?
Let's find out from Peter Coy, economics reporter with "BusinessWeek" magazine. He penned this week's cover story, "Old, Smart, Productive."
Peter, welcome to the program.
PETER COY, ECONOMICS REPORTER, "BUSINESSWEEK:" Hi, Andy.
SERWER: Hey, let's start off with that notion that there are going to be all of these retirees out there supported by this tiny little workforce in the future. Is that realistic?
COY: That's what everybody has been worried about. All kinds of books and magazine articles, headlines day after day predicting that the terrible consequences that are going to come from the aging of America. My article says it's not going to be that bad, and a key reason is the one that you just said, which is the people are going to remain productive far longer than most of the people are prognosticating these days.
ROMANS: Peter, these are people who want to remain in the workforce. In many cases, that helps their productivity?
COY: Right. I think that's a key point. It's not that people are being forced to work because otherwise they would be eating dog and cat food. It's because they actually -- the statistics show, and there's all these kinds of evidence for this, that people are healthier to longer -- to later ages than ever before. They're also more mentally alert, and education levels are rising. It's been traditional that people who were working in more professions, doctors, lawyers, tended to work longer. Now that the general educational level of the workforce is going up, you expect more and more people to have the kind of interesting jobs that they'll want to stay in.
WASTLER: So, Peter, can we stop worrying about the Social Security situation, and just let it ride now, people will be working older and older and older? We don't have to worry about paying them Social Security anymore, right?
COY: I wouldn't go quite that far. But it definitely is a plus for the financing of Social Security. Part of it might be actually increasing the retirement age at a more rapid clip than is currently planned.
ROMANS: Peter, what does this mean for younger Americans?
I mean there are a lot of jobs out there that, you know, when you have -- when you are in college or you have in high school to support yourself. And now maybe there will be people older and retiring who want to have those jobs. Are we nudging younger people out of the workforce?
COY: That is a concern. I think it's something to think about. But the bigger issue that most employees are concerned about is not surplus labor -- where are we going to put these people -- but actually labor shortages, because the baby boom generation is the biggest generation in American history. If all of those boomers suddenly leave the workforce en masse, there won't be enough bodies around to fill all the jobs. I'm not too concerned about boomers blocking the way of other people who want jobs.
SERWER: Peter, what about the workplace for older people, though?
It's not necessarily old-folk friendly. What can employers do to incentivize to make the workplace more friendly for older people and to encourage them to do this?
COY: There are all kinds of things. One is just recognizing the wealth of talent they have on hand that they may be under-exploiting. Statistics show that older workers tend to get less training than younger workers. That needs to change.
All of these people who have these almost unintended age discrimination policies at work. Let's get rid of those.
Let's also think about increasing things like elder care programs so that older people who might have a spouse or a parent who needs help can get the flexibility of work hours and maybe the guidance towards assisted care facilities and so on. And phase retirement programs, which allow you to get a little bit of your pension even while you were still working. That's new rules that need to be promulgated to take care of that.
WASTLER: So Peter, you have mentioned ageism. And to me, that seems like a big hurdle. You see the old guy in the corner. He's going to be slow and crotchety and he not going to get the work done. I mean how -- are companies able to overcome that? Are there programs to address that?
COY: My article talks about several companies that are moving in the right direction. On the cover of the magazine, we have a woman named Emma Schulman who lives in New York. She works at New York University School of Medicine, is 92 years old, still working 50 hours a week as a social worker, recruiting patients for Alzheimer's Clinic at the hospital, going strong. Her boss says that if she ever did retire it, would probably take two or three people to replace her. WASTLER: Well, Peter, that was an interesting story that you had in "BusinessWeek." We appreciate you coming on to IN THE MONEY and telling us about it.
COY: Thanks a lot.
WASTLER: Now there is lots more to come up on IN THE MONEY.
Up next, face time. Celebrity magazines are the ultimate impulse buy. Find out why the mere sight of a famous face can make someone pull out the cash.
And later, fair bosses. FastCompany.com came out with a new list of 10 famous bad bosses. I will tell you why three of them don't fit the bill.
WASTLER: Tom and Katie, Brad and Angelina, and Ben and Jen and now a new Jen. From the newspaper stand to the television set, you can't avoid these people, even if you wanted to.
So why are Americans so obsessed with celebrities? Here with an answer is P. David Marshall of Northeastern University. He's the chairman of the Department of Communications Studies there.
P. DAVID MARSHALL, CHAIRMAN, DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNICATION STUDIES, NORTHEASTERN UNIVERISTY: Good to be here.
WASTLER: So, why are we so celebrity obsessed? What makes us as a country just -- I got to find out more about what Tom's doing?
MARSHALL: It comes from our much longer history as a country that doesn't really have possibly all of those kinds of national or even racial ideas of who they are, or who we are. And from that, it's been a big focus on individuality and identity through many, many years, through many, many different kinds of things from the democratic culture to our consumer culture.
And coming out of that, is through the media system, an incredible system that celebrates -- celebrates through celebrities, individuality, idiosyncratic identity and gets us into that spirit of these as being representations of ourselves, but also gets us into a feeling of as our country has become larger, our neighborhoods cohere as well, these people have become our surrogate our pseudo-neighbors, communities.
SERWER: Right. Right. David, I love this show! That was my Tom Cruise imitation. I'm looking for a couch to crawl on.
MARSHALL: Do you want me to stand up?
SERWER: Sure. Go ahead. Do what you want. Let me ask you a question, though. Has any of this really changed? Isn't it only the media that's different?
I mean you go back through history. People were obsessed with Bonnie and Clyde back in the 1920's. Rita Hayworth was a pinup gal. We all loved J.F.K. but if we had the Internet and relentless TV shows and everything else back then, wouldn't the situation be the same? So I guess what I'm asking is, it is just TV, isn't it?
MARSHALL: It has intensified from the 1920's and 1930's. There are some things that are very similar, the way that we have celebrated certain individuals. There's something about that era in the early 20th century where they wear larger than life. They were these giant images on screen.
What we have now is, as you described, a really large and intricate and varied media system that is constantly providing more and more images for us.
ROMANS: In a weird way, though, you know, now you have these images that are moving their way into hard news. You have people, viewers and readers, who will read about these people.
And frankly, I want to go back to the Paris Hilton. I don't want her to be my neighbor and she's not my neighbor. I don't imagine her to be my neighbor.
MARSHALL: I'm sure you have neighbors you don't like.
ROMANS: But people will read about that before they will read about six-party talks for nuclear proliferation in North Korea, which is really important. And maybe we're just news geeks, but I'm wondering why has this happened?
MARSHALL: This is connected to another kind of longer story, but it is connected to that -- exactly what you are describing, a change or an expansion of soft news, and a contraction of hard news. But what soft news has provided, we can go through a lot of binarisms that describes it. One of them is a feminization of news. And maybe hard news is a masculinization of news.
But what we see happening is a lot of issues about the family, about social relationships which are political, have been expressed through celebrities, through divorces, through incest, if you think there's -- what Oprah may be brought up many years ago.
We have these channels for other kinds of political issues. And they are significant. They do bump things like nuclear proliferation or the threat of North Korea off the calendar. But they have produced over 20 or 30 years this transformation of news, this soft news, which has produced a different kind of political culture than what we had in the 1970's.
WASTLER: So David, if I see Paris Hilton with, you know, a nice pocketbook, is Christine going to go out and buy that because she follows Paris Hilton so much?
ROMANS: No. WASTLER: Do celebrities really judge what we buy?
MARSHALL: They don't. It's not that we immediately go out and buy what they have, but we see them as a system of consumption, of buying. A kind of hyper, hyper real, hyper individual versions of what we can do to transform ourselves.
Think of celebrities as different than a class system. Royalty was being something that was on a coin maybe 300 years ago.
Here we have system where they're classless. You can use that in both terms. Paris Hilton is kind of vulgar as well, but it's classless -- their meaning and where they come from. Their identity is from us. Their power is their capacity to transform themselves into whatever they want. And we allow them to do it, and that is the promise of a consumer society, a consumer culture.
SERWER: Well David, I like this point about the feminization of news. I'm sure Jack Cafferty, if you could hear, would concur with me that I'm feeling more feminine all the time.
MARSHALL: I think you are.
SERWER: Thank you. But what about Kate and Tommy, the latest "it" couple? What is this telling you about us?
MARSHALL: OK, it's probably less about us and more about an industry -- publicity machine. An apparatus so elaborate that's grown over the last 30 years to such a degree that you have moments where actual celebrities like Tom or Katie take on the publicity actions themselves. I think that they have gone overboard in it. They see -- you know, they both have films coming out. They both have a vested interest in raising their profile.
This is more the function of an entertainment industry to produce them in a certain way. They have kind of ingested that publicity machine into their own beings. So, it's pretty difficult to separate the publicity from the reality of who Tom and Katie might be, and what they're trying to represent in this engagement on the Eiffel Tower or the couch crawl -- or not crawl, the jump.
SERWER: Jumping, it was a couch jump.
We have to leave it at that. There's obviously much to chew on there. We appreciate you coming on IN THE MONEY. Thank you very much. David Marshall is the chairman of the Department of Communication Studies at Northeastern University.
There is lots more still to come on IN THE MONEY.
Up next, it is not cheesecake and it isn't beefcake. Call it what you want. But take a look at the "Fun Site of the Week". We'll tell you about it after the break.
And if you want to see more stuff like that, or less of it -- drop us a line. Our email address is INTHEMONEY@CNN.com. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ROMANS: Who are the worst bosses of all time? FastCompany.com just released its choices for the CEO Hall of Shame. But our Allen Wastler isn't so sure all of the names really belong on that list. That's the subject of his "Inside Out" segment of the week.
WASTLER: You know you can always turn it around with these guys. There is good and bad to everything. So that a look at the list. We'll look at the top three.
OK. Moving up to number three, they named Armand Hammer. He was a very famous industrialist, basically the driving force behind Occidental Petroleum, but he wasn't like Mr. Personality there. He was an adulterer and he wouldn't support his illegitimate child.
SERWER: Oh, that.
WASTLER: He was known for tossing a few bribes around here and there. And basically the laws didn't apply to him. However -- however -- consider that he was one of the driving forces in Occidental Petroleum, which set up an entire distribution system to feed our growing industry at the time, and that industry at the time actually created more jobs, more employment.
You have to have people like that.
You deserve a place --
SERWER: For all his illegitimate children.
WASTLER: All right. I will make it simpler.
ROMANS: The silver lining --
WASTLER: He gave a lot of money to charity.
SERWER: All right good. Next.
WASTLER: Henry Ford. Henry Ford. He kept a secret police -- did you know that? -- like his own little private army? He was anti-union.
ROMANS: Machine guns, tear gas.
WASTLER: He also cheated on his wife. All these guys cheat on their wives.
SERWER: There you go again.
WASTLER: Cheated on the wife. But consider this. He introduced the assembly line to the United States which all of sudden made us a big manufacturing power.
SERWER: All right. WASTLER: Jobs right there. Thousands of jobs. The Depression comes in, and he just had a nice little manufacturing thing going. He was a good guy, OK?
Number one -- you're going to love this one.
ROMANS: Do your sound effect, Andy.
WASTLER: Chainsaw Al Dunlap -- also known as Rambo in pinstripes -- had a thing for weapons, and also had a thing for laying off people, thousands and thousands of people. And he enjoyed it. He even said so.
SERWER: What's good about him? Come on. I want to hear this.
WASTLER: The fact that he was caught fooling around in accounts, went down in flames. Think about people. He just introduced the latest round of let's whack the CEO.'s. So people from the CEO's say, I think I will lay a bunch of people off. A lot of people can say, you can end up like Chainsaw Al. Do you want to go there?
ROMANS: He didn't go to the funeral of either of his parents.
SERWER: That is looking for a silver lining by the way. Is there anyone from CNN on that list by the way?
WASTLER: You are not getting me there. No.
SERWER: All right.
ROMANS: Fun site.
WASTLER: We were talking celebrities, and you were talking Paris Hilton, right Christine. We have a little spoof maybe that -- might make you think twice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love Paris every moment
WASTLER: You recall her Carl's Jr. commercial.
SERWER: Who does that look like on the staff?
WASTLER: That's a site put out by a recruiting company. It's quite humorous. We will not take any responsibility for any psychological counseling that you need later.
ROMANS: All right. Well, he has just as much right up to, well, be there dancing around as she does as far as I'm concerned.
SERWER: Yes, or Chainsaw Al.
ROMANS: Thanks, guys. Coming up on IN THE MONEY, it's time to hear from you as we read some of your emails from the past week. You can send us an email right now to INTHEMONEY@CNN.com.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WASTLER: Now it's time to read your answers to our question about what a TV commercial needs to do to grab your attention.
Wanda and Ted from Montana wrote, "Thoughtful and funny ads capture our attention. That's why we know so much more about beer than we do about cars and computers!"
Sally in Texas wrote, "Commercials that don't yell at me get my attention, so do spots with cool visuals and no spoken words. The recent HP PhotoSmart ads are the best. I have actually gone to the HP Web site to watch them again."
WASTLER: And Grady wrote this word of warning, "I'll stick with an ad as long as it isn't too long. With long commercials and longer commercial breaks these days, I find myself flipping around as soon as my show takes a break. Very often I end up on commercial-free PBS and forget to come back."
Now, for next week's email "Question of the Week". What will you spend less on in order to afford more expensive gas? Send your answers to INTHEMONEY@CNN.com and you should also visit our show page at Money.com/InTheMoney. That's where you will find the address for our "Fun Site of the Week". Please be careful.
ROMANS: And that's it for this edition of IN THE MONEY. Thanks to "Fortune" magazine Editor-at-large Andy Serwer, and Money.com Managing Editor Allen Wastler. I'm Christine Romans thank you for joining us.
Jack will be next week. You hear that Jack? Come back from vacation.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everybody.
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