Rufa: I’m an analyst at heart — for the right price, of course

Robert Rufa Columnist

I was listening to a cable news anchor talk about the recent stock market downturn the other day and leaned in with interest when she brought out the network’s resident financial analyst, Dominic O’Schultz. “So what’s behind this latest Dow dip, Dom?” she asked.

“Well, Emmeline,” he said, “that’s hard to say.”

Emmeline Fern nodded and glanced at her notes, then continued: “Could it have anything to do with falling oil prices?”

Dominic shrugged. “Anything’s possible,” he said.

Emmeline bit her lip, then cupped her hand over her ear. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but we have Jane Immelmann reporting live from the Aisle of White.”

“Shouldn’t that be ‘Isle of Wight’?” Dominic asked as he glanced at the teleprompter. The scene shifted to the paint department at the Home Detour superstore.

“Yes, Emmeline — great news here. All shades of white are on sale this week.” Jane started walking up the Aisle of White, gesturing to cans as she went. “You have your eggshells, and your off-whites, and your ivories ...”

At which point I yelled at the screen, “Where’s the analyst?” I wanted to hear what was going on down on Wall Street, even if he didn’t know.

“This week only,” Emmeline droned on, “paint that’s normally $18.88 a gallon are three gallons for $68.88.” Okay, I’m no mathematician, but that seemed like a bad deal. Where was the money guy when you needed him?

“Thanks, Jane,” said Emmeline as she returned to the screen. “Well that’s quite a deal, wouldn’t you say, Dominic? But if the Dow keeps dropping, investors will have some stock bargains to choose from, no?”

“Your guess is as good as mine, Emmeline,” Dominic said.

I had to admire Dominic O’Schultz for parlaying uncertainty into a lucrative career as a television analyst — and I had to admit that I was a little jealous. I figured there was something out there that I knew so little about that would qualify me for a job as an expert. Nuclear physics maybe? But nuclear power plant disasters were few and far between. I’d never get any face time.

What about computer security? I know next to nothing about computer security, except whatever software I can download for free, so I’d be the perfect on-air consultant when they cover stories about major breaches, like the time Liechtensteiner hackers broke into the Swiss Navy’s computers and stole top-secret information about the Swiss nuclear submarine fleet. I’ve heard there’s a lot of jealousy between these two countries, each claiming they’re more landlocked than the other. I’m sure I could have analyzed intelligently about this hack, about the importance of having a screen door to keep out the backdoor viruses.

I probably shouldn’t get my hopes up though. Cable news stations have a glut of experts, and so far they haven’t sent someone to Black Mountain to recruit me. I guess I’ll forget about analyzing stuff and just keep annoying you with this column.