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    Shilling for Beer? CNBC Airs Glowing Budweiser Tribute

    CNBC has a bad rap. It began with Rick Santelli's made-for-youtube tirade in which he blamed home-buying "losers" for causing the mortgage the crisis. Then Jon Stewart skewered the CNBC journalists who promoted the banks that most analysts blame for the mortgage crisis, sparking a minor media war with Jim Cramer that left Cramer appearing petulant and self-important. A few weeks later, Cramer exploded at blogger Dan Solin and stormed off the set of the CNBC's Power Lunch. Then just last week, CNBC Reports host Dennis Kneale rampaged against "bloggers" calling them "digital dickweeds" and accusing them of living in their mothers' basements, among other clever gibes. He also invited one blogger to call in and discuss the market only to cut him off mid-comment and insult him. As a result, CNBC has replaced FOX News as the new bête noire of the blogosphere.

    So it was with some interest that I watched Dennis Kneale's "Parting Shots" last night in a segment called "Blog You!!!" in which he trashed the "pond scum" of the blogosphere for their ad hominem attacks on him.

    But this post isn't about CNBC's battle of the blogs. It's about the CNBC "original" on Budweiser that aired after CNBC Reports last night: Exploring America’s 130 year love affair with the King of Beers.

    At the beginning, I was convinced that I was watching some kind of extended Budweiser advertisement, so fast and furious came the Bud logos and scenes of young, attractive people enjoying Budweiser.

    Consider the following voiceover by host, Scott Wapner, during a montage of people sucking down cans of Budweiser and Bud Light:

    "Ask beer lovers what a beer should be, and they'll almost wax poetically about it. When it's poured, it should have a thick head that tops off the glass, releasing a slightly floral and citrus aroma. Its golden tint glistens, its clarity an example of brewing perfection. The first sip is clean and crisp, the taste light and refreshing. There's nothing like a cold one on a hot summer day."

    Um, what beer lovers are we talking about? Clarity, cleanliness, light taste? These are the attributes of mass-market lagers that no self-respecting beer connoisseur would seek. It's as if one were to claim that hamburger lovers prefer "thin cuts of fatty processed beef microwaved to well-done perfection" and flashed pictures of people enjoying Big Macs. Like McDonald's, Budweiser is an American success. It has succeeded in part by filtering and watering down its beer in order to make it palatable to the widest possible audience. But that success has come at the cost of quality; Budweiser is not a beer lover's beer. Even Annheiser-Busch doesn't pretend that Budweiser is a high quality beer. Instead, they emphasize drinkability.

    The program also includes multiple clips of unctuous praise from an interview with author Maureen Ogle, who speaks highly of the lack of unsightly "mistakes" in a glass of Bud, by I which I presume she means the hops and yeast that give beer its taste.

    "Budweiser is a triumph of brewing technology. It's extremely difficult to make a beer like Budweiser. You hold it up to the light and every little mistake will show, and you won't see any mistakes in a glass of Budweiser. It's a uniquely American kind of beer"

    The plaudits concerning the intrinsically "American" character of Budweiser continue throughout the program, which is ironic since the Belgian conglomerate, InBev, just purchased Anheuser-Busch. In addressing the acquisition, Mr. Wapner plays the apologist:

    "The answer for more and more beer companies have been to partner with foreign brewers...Annheiser-Busch held out as long as it could, the lone wolf in an incredibly competitive marketplace but at some point even this giant had to see the writing on the wall.

    The program also discusses a recent decline in beer sales as consumers reject mass-market products in favor or wine and craft brews. Mr. Wapner presents the challenge to Anheiser-Busch as a marketing problem, rather than a product quality problem, explaining,

    "AB spends millions of dollars trying to convince consumers that beer is just as diverse and refined as wine."

    Beer is just as diverse and refined as wine, but Budweiser is not. AB's mass-market strategy put small breweries out of business half a century ago. Along with Miller and Coors, Anheiser-Busch's product is the reason that consumers do not regard beer as diverse and refined.

    Wapner then goes on to fret that AB's attempts to "refine" Budwesier will ruin its classic taste:

    "But Bud with blue agave in it or topped off with clamato juice, or laced with lime? Can a true beer lover enjoy such variations of the King. In the end, it's all about trying to stay ahead of trends."

    I could go on, but let's get to the point: Why has CNBC aired such a flawed, sycophantic piece of advertising fluff for Anheiser-Busch? I can only assume that the program is nothing more than a product placement opportunity and that AB has contributed heavily to this ardent toast to the glory Budweiser.

    If so, then CNBC has once again sacrificed journalistic intregrity in its sad quest to become the Budweiser of news media: pale, watery, and tasteless.


    John Stuart? John Stuart?!?

    Egads, man. The guy's name is Jon Stewart.

    Although I suppose you could've been referring to John Stuart, in an effort to rile up the Canadians. If so, you should note that he's been dead for a while.

    Or John Stuart Mill, which is where they grind the grain they use in Budweiser. In passing, why is there a need for something called Bud LIGHT?

    It's about the calories. If it referred to taste, then it would certainly be redundant.

    Ack, I always do that even though I know better. I can't get the "John Stuart" spelling out of my head. It must be the J.S. Mill thing as Ac notes.

    OK, now that I've gotten that out of my system.

    How is American Beer like making love in a canoe?

    I dunno. How?

    It's fucking close to water.

    I'm sorry that I asked.

    It's the eye of the tiger.

    I think John Stuart may have it too.

    You're obsessed. Snap out of it, man!

    Hillarious review of bud light with clamato juice:

    I’d love to tell you what the mouthfeel is like on this beer, but honestly I didn’t want it in my mouth long enough to find out...This has to be the vilest and nastiest beer I’ve drank in my life. It’s not pleasant in any way or shape. It actually brought tears to my eyes at the thought of having to drink the whole 22 ounces and made me do the “it’s icky” dance. Any of you with young kids knows what I’m talking about. I’m not joking when I warn you, for the love of all that is good and right in the world, DO NOT DRINK THIS BEER. I give it .5 out of 10. Yes, point five out of ten. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go gargle with Everclear.

    Full review:

    Genghis you must have had too many Buds. I Love Santelli, he's always opening my eyes to things the other reporters candycoat. He's honest about the economy, and knows what he's talking about. Obama now agrees with what Rick says about the housing plan,(Obama changed the housing plan that week)and the debt we are leaving our children, he even used Santelli's exact words.So go have another Bud, and just stick to Jon Stewart for your news source, you know something you can wrap your mind around. 

    My mind is obviously too small and inebriated to appreciate Santelli's profound and, I daresay, thunderous honesty, but thank you for making the effort to educate me.

    g, you always amaze me with how snobby you can actually be.

    cnbc has done these kind of shows on numerous large American corporations - ebay, Walmart, McDonalds, and more - i am pretty sure the network would have to reveal if they were paid advertisements or not, but i could be wrong. but as a business network, I see nothing wrong with CNBC putting out shows dedicated to explaining the history and challenges of successful American companies. while it would be great if these pieces were a bit more even-handed (and the one on Wal-Mart kind of was), I can even do with a little bit of rah-rah cheerleading. The ones I've seen - I have not seen the AB one - have been rather fascinating.

    now as a native St. Louisan, I wish I could stick up more for A-B's products. But it's true their mass-market beers generally suck as they are intended to appeal to the widest possible audience as you said. (they produce a bunch of smaller brands like Red Hook, Hoegaarden, Stella, Kirin, which I enjoy a great deal - of course, I also dig Michelob Ultra so I aint the best judge for sure).

    Yet i'm not sure what your point is. Americans like a lot of mediocre things. So what? And I would put up AB's beers favorably when compared to the other mass-market brews i consider competitive, like miller and coors. btw, your statement that 'even Annheiser-Busch doesn't pretend that Budweiser is a high quality beer' is a bit misleading as their drinkability campaign is for Bud Light, which is clearly piss, and not so drinkable at all really.

    Yeah, AB after holding out for a long time finally agreed to be purchased by InBev. Again, so what?

    Your comment that small breweries were put out of business by A-B a long time ago is laughable. You literally have dozens of options for beers at most stores and restaurants, and while a good number of them are now owned by larger breweries, there are usually several microbrews and foreign beers to choose from as well.

    I know you happen to enjoy a fine bottle of Yeungling, a high-quality American brewer, and boston Beer, maker of Sam Adams, is another more-than-respectable, relatively small American brewer

    Anyway, if the point of this post was your disgust that CNBC was trying to fill their programming hours with fluff pieces on the history of large corporate institutuions, then it has been duly noted. Not fully understood, but noted.

    If your point was Americans should start trying better beers than the cheap swill that the big brewers put out, then that is duly noted as well.

    Actually, the point was not to put down Budweiser. I take that as a given. It was about my shock that CNBC would produce a program about what a quality beer Budweiser is. Did you watch the video? It's not just a puff piece. It's a virtual advertisement. The guy that I was watching with and I had a long discussion about whether AB had taken out an extended advertisement on CNBC, and we ultimately resolved the question only with the help of Google.

    CNBC followed up with a program about Nike that was a puff piece, but at least it asked real questions and interviewed people who had negative things to say about the company. The Budweiser program, in contrast, is a joke.

    I will amend the point about microbrews to say that the Prohibition pushed many of them out of business. The big corporations just kept them out for half a century. The Boston Beer Company, which led the microbrew revolution, was founded in 1984. There are only a handful of family operations, like Yeungling, that survived the Prohibition and the mass-market onslaught of the big beer bottlers.

    Do you not see the irony in this line?

    "AB spends millions of dollars trying to convince consumers that beer is just as diverse and refined as wine."

    AB made a fortune by eliminating any elements of diversity and sophistication in beer. The program repeatedly praised AB for ensuring that every bottle of Budweiser tastes exactly the same.

    PS If dismissing Budweiser as a low quality beer makes me a snob, then the country is in desperate need of more snobs.

    uh, you're right about the program. it's total crap. i couldnt even get past ten minutes. i dont think its an ad, but if A-B didn't pay CNBC for this, CNBC should be ashamed. The ones on Mcdonalds and Wal-Mart were much, much better.

    and yes, there is plenty of irony in that line.

    i still say budweiser is an acceptable lager. but im probably only saying that out of civil loyalty.

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