I've learned to expect more from CNBC than the incessantly sensationalist reporting and insipid banalities that are the norm for most broadcast media. After all, CNBC is the main broadcast source of information for business and financial leaders, with its second-by-second stock quotes and up-to-the-minute breaking business news updates.
So I eagerly tuned in to CNBC's Special Report, "Divorce Wars," on Tuesday night. The program had been widely advertised: "CNBC goes inside the confidential world of multi-million dollar divorce revealing the secrets of winning and losing on a battlefield of emotional pain and financial gain." A former AAML national president, Gerry Nissenbaum, and unbiquitous publicity hound Raoul Felder, along with two divorcee bottom-feeders who've been hawking their wares on the Internet (a "divorce insurance" broker, and a "divorce funding" broker who takes a percentage of the recovery -- how unethical is that?!!), were slated to enlighten viewers with their perspectives.
Having handled a fair number of high-asset divorces and pre-nups myself, I'm still not crazy enough to think I've got a monopoly on knowledge or insight on representing the super-rich. And I figured, even if I didn't learn anything really new or fresh from the show, at least Gerry (a first-class Boston lawyer) would share an interesting tidbit of information and Raoul would be, well, Raoul.
Wrong. Gerry didn't have much of a chance to say anything except comment on the case of a bitter, unpleasant woman whose settlement agreement he was able to bust open on fraud grounds. Raoul was more subdued than usual, and the two get-rich-off-other-people's-misery non-professionals came across as sleazy as I expected.
Then there were the wronged clients. Gerry's client, the kind of sour, angry person no one in their right mind wants to deal with unless they have the patience of Job (like Gerry). The whiny CEO who didn't heed anyone's advice to get a pre-nup and was later shocked -shocked! - when his bride not only divorced him, but now has a substantial book value that rivals the Forbes' 500. Then there was the - oh my God can you believe it? - fabricated case of child pornography planted into an unsuspecting husband's computer while he was off on a business trip, that took a team of experts, 81 trial days, and millions of dollars to disprove.
Of course, I can't omit to mention the reporter for this special program. (Each time she intoned the word, "MILL-yon," I wanted to throw something at the TV.) Her claim that no one in the world of high-end divorces of business leaders wants to talk about their experience, and how secretive that world is, is belied by the headlines. The Perelman divorce. The Mark Hurd fiasco. The "Dodger" divorce of the McCourts. Yeah, right. Need I continue?
I swear, CNBC fell mighty short on this one.