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When Wall St. analysts lose their spine

It really was remarkable to listen to the Apple earnings call yesterday and hear Wall Street analysts, New Yorkers, most of them, just roll right over for Tim Cook and Peter Oppenheimer by accepting a non-answer on how the company will be run and Steve Jobs' condition.

The press has been excoriated for this lapdog behavior, mostly by Newsweek's Dan Lyons, and rightfully so. All too often, especially in the business press, reporters become too cozy with the companies they cover, and I'm just as guilty of it. I have to regularly remind myself not to let certain companies off too easy.

The press should always maintain what I call a politely adversarial relationship. We can be friendly with the PR people but they aren't our friends and they never say anything without a reason or an agenda to it. Their loyalty is to the company that pays them, and rightfully so. Every reporter knows this, or should: when someone offers you a piece of information, they have an agenda behind it. What's the reason for passing you this info? You can question and you can probe for an answer, and need not stoop to Keith Olbermann levels of obnoxious behavior in doing your job.

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