Dan Rather left out a key detail when he had Michael Masters on his show, Dan Rather Reports: Gas Pains, to talk about rising gas prices being affected by speculative trading on Wall Street.Masters runs Masters Capital Management, a long/short equity fund that is invested in 3 airline companies, General Motors, and a maker of electric car batteries — all of which would be affected by a spike in gas prices. So his investments are directly affected by the price of gas, but he went on Dan Rather Reports and suggested that speculative traders are doing something wrong (aka killing his profits) as though he was free of an agenda.
Both Masters and Rather failed to mention Masters Capital Management, on the show. Instead, Rather referenced Better Markets, which is Masters’ nonprofit. The company is related to Masters lobbying work, but it does not represent a potential conflict of interest in the same way that Masters Capital Management does.
The mission of Better Markets is to promote the public interest (in transparency, accountability, oversight, fairness, etc.) in the domestic and global capital and commodity markets, with an initial primary focus on the processes (regulatory, rulemaking, legislative, judicial, etc.) to implement the letter and spirit of the recently enacted Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act as well as related global financial regulation.
Of course it makes sense that if Masters believes strongly in lobbying for regulation of the commodities market, that he would have some skin in the game. But that Rather didn’t mention Masters’ fund, which clearly has investments that might have affected his statements, is strange.
Especially so because Masters has been criticised for talking his agenda before. And Dan Rather left CBS (and is suing the network for $70 million) over a dispute over questionable sources on his story about George Bush dodging military obligations.
What’s worse is that it’s fueling blame on speculators for rising gas prices.
President Obama announced yesterday that he is putting a team together to investigate whether any illegal speculation is going on in the oil markets that might be driving up gas prices.