Before He Was On CNBC's Fast Money, Keith McCullough Had Some Nasty Words For People On The Show

Keith McCullough

Photo: CNBC screenshot

We were wondering if things might be a bit awkward on the set of CNBC’s “Fast Money” these days ever since Keith McCullough started appearing on the show as a contributor.That’s because McCullough, the CEO and founder of Hedgeye Risk Management (formerly known as Research Edge LLC), used to rip into the the show’s on-air talent and producers both on his blog and in emailed client reports. 

Sometimes he would call the on-air talent —  or in his words “the crackberry analysts”– “donkeys” and “monkeys” and liken the show to a “circus” or a “zoo.”  He also constantly pointed out that “Fast Money” substitute host, trader Joe Terranova mispronounces China calling it “China-r.”

McCullough wrote these comments from 2008 to 2010, a time when the show’s regular panelists included (and still include) Pete Najarian, Jon Najarian, Tim Seymour, Guy Adami and Karen Finerman.  Anchor Dylan Ratigan left the financial news network in 2009 and Melissa Lee took his place as host. 

McCullough’s blog is hidden behind a paywall, however, some of the quotes are publicly available on his  “Diary of a Hedge Fund Manager” blog archive and the others can be tracked down through an advanced search on Google. 

McCullough did not respond to multiple requests for comment.  CNBC, on the other hand, did have something to say about it.

“The intellectual combat and differing opinions that are expressed on Fast Money and throughout the day on CNBC provide viewers and investors with valuable insights and balanced analysis,” said Brian Steel, CNBC’s VP of public relations.

So maybe it’s all water under the bridge.

Still, you’d think it would be a little bit tense on the site.

In November 2008, McCullough likened Fast Money traders to Don King, of boxing world fame.

'The Chinese etf that we are long (FXI) had a +15% up day yesterday, and it literally dizzied the dudes on CNBC's 'Fast Money.' There is no better way to characterise their explanation for this week's rally in China other than hilarious. These cats don't have a process - that we know. But man oh man is it funny to hear these traders get all amped up and 'fundamental' - they remind me of Don King.'

November 14, 2008

McCullough also gave Fast Money fans specific warnings about what would happen if they followed the show's advice.

'George Washington said, 'few men have virtue of withstanding the highest bidder.' He obviously would not have seen eye to eye with the producers of CNBC's 'Fast Money', or any 'momentum' oriented hedge fund manager, where the objective is plainly stated as 'buy high, and sell higher!' ......... We're setting up for the aforementioned inflationary trends to fade. 'Fast Money' fans, if you're levered long everything energy/basic materials, brace yourselves!'

November 14, 2008

Source: Research Edge 'EARLY LOOK: FADING FAST MONEY' email

In fact, he encouraged viewers to stop listening to Fast Money and pay attention to him instead.

'Instead of listening to what one of the crackberry 'Fast Money' dudes was telling you to use as a 'China signal' (something about store checking Chinese imports at Wal-Mart?), stay in the home team's corner here '

November 14, 2008

If they didn't, they risked being panting dogs listening at a 'circus act.'

'This does not mean, however, that I need to subscribe to the panting dog nodding that CNBC's Fast Money's producer must force his 'Traders' to look into the eye of the camera with when listening to the Gartman gospel. Someone has to hold the members of this circus act accountable.'

May 15, 2009

Source: Hedgeye 'Short of Garty?'

McCullough gives it to CNBC too, specifically for its message to the financial community.

'Wall Street's current go to market operative is a very reactive one - CNBC actually plays their 'Fast Money' show twice between the hours of 5-9pm! Their message: 'At all costs, do everything and anything you can to not get caught with a bad daily, weekly, or monthly performance number'.'

November 14, 2008

And for encouraging people's follies in the network's branding.

'The reality is that since the 2002 lows, the US market has been populated with investors who literally buy high with the hope of selling higher. Where do you think CNBC came up with the name Fast Money?'

June 2, 2009

We think CNBC probably would not appreciate being in the same category as 'The Gong Show'

'The point is that this CNBC's interpretation of American finance is the metaphor for the gong show.'

August 11, 2009

Or the fact that McCullough calls all of the 'Fast Money' talent 'donkeys.'

'The donkeys on CNBC's Fast Money tonight focused the entire show on 'Long Gold, Short America'

February 18, 2009

And monkeys...

'Typically, the monkey lives in the Zoo of Consensus. So, you can really think about Greece like a banana -- after the stock market has collapsed for a -35% down move, enter CNBC's Fast Money monkeys to clamor for the last feeding.'

February 10, 2010

Source: 'Diary of a Hedge Fund Manager' blog

Who live in the 'Zoo of consensus'

When McCullough talked about how the host's spoke, he made them sound like frat boys.

And he attacked them individually, too. In November 2008, he called out Dennis Gartman, author of 'The Gartman Letter,' for his calls on gold.

Getting back to the 'pin action' (one of the 'Fast Money' traders calls it that, not me!) in the last 3 days, where the likes of momentum traders like Dennis Gartman got caught being negative on gold at $850, then bullish at $928, is now staring at a gold price that's dropped -3.5% in 3 days back down to $895. Gartman's most recent portfolio underperformance probably is not that different from the 'Fast Money' hedge fund community's at large.'

November 14, 2008

(Note: McCullough uses the phrase 'pin action' now. Examples here, here and here)

'So Garty, lets slap the ole red, white and blue accountability pants on and take a walk down the path of a few positions that you are currently 'short of '

May 15, 2009

Source: Hedgeye 'Short of Garty?'

McCullough made Jim Cramer and Pete Najarian sound like high school girls.

'Whether it was Pete Najarian on Fast Money chanting that the real growth in this market lies in 'levering up toxic assets' or Jimmy Cramer shamelessly dancing around the CNBC set to Beyonce's 'Halo' applauding the Treasury Secretary's performance - this is all one and the same folks - a circus... and at some point it just needs to stop.'

March 25, 2009

One of the traders got it for his accent.

'Not to be mistaken for that one Fast Money Trader who pronounces the world's most relevant growth economy with an 'R' at the end of it ('China-r')'

May 15, 2009

Source: Hedgeye 'Short of Garty?'

More than once.

More than twice, actually.

Here's where McCullough revealed that the trader who has trouble pronouncing China is Joe Terranova.

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