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Charles Payne – The Unbreakable Investor

“I urge everyone to invest, because everyone should be investing. It’s an amazing opportunity, and everyone can with certain sacrifices.”

Rick Schultz

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A photo of Charles Payne
(Photo: Fox News)

The American Dream is still alive and well. The responsibility is ours, however, if we want to pursue and capture this dream for our lives and that of our families. Charles Payne continues to live that dream daily.

One could say that is the resounding theme of Natalie Brunell’s online program, Coin Stories, where she offers a refreshing media style that is consistently uplifting and inspirational.

Usually, the program revolves around how Bitcoin can be the means toward this future prosperity.  Brunell has spent years educating her audience about why she believes Bitcoin is a means to economic prosperity, especially in nations where mere economic survival remains a crucial, daily priority.

This past week she offered an episode of her program to highlight another American media figure who takes a similarly optimistic approach toward educating and empowering his audience, albeit mostly through the stock market, Charles Payne.

Brunell began the episode, titled “Building Wealth, Stocks, Bitcoin and Hope,” by digging into the Fox News anchor’s childhood, searching for clues that have led to his current success. As an “Army Brat” born in New York, Payne moved every year – from Pittsburgh, Texas, Germany, Japan, Alabama, North Carolina, and eventually to Virginia, where he lived a peaceful and happy early childhood. 

“Beautiful Fort Lee, Virginia. Beautiful Army base, two-story house. The staircase was like the Brady Bunch staircase,” Payne recalled. “We had all these extra rooms. We had a den. You know, it was just, really almost just an amazing life. Almost too good to be true.”

Looking back on that stage of his childhood, Payne appreciates that he was protected in many ways from the darker side of American culture at the time.

“It was a bubble, you know what I mean? Particularly in the late 60s, early 70s, with all the turmoil that was going on in America at that particular time,” Payne remembers. “We were kinda shielded from all of it, if you will. You know, just an idyllic lifestyle for a little kid. Just go outside, play all day, ride your bikes.”

Payne said his Army father instilled discipline in him, giving him household chores to complete, such as mowing the lawn with a hand mower.

“It was a beautiful life,” he summed up.

But Charles Payne’s life was about to take a major shift – one that arguably provided both hardship and the life lessons he built upon to earn his place in the world.

“One day I came home from school and my mom said we’re leaving. And so, you know, my parents are having trouble. And my mother, it was me, my mom, and my two younger brothers. So we got on a bus from there, and we went to Harlem,” Payne said. “Now this was the early 70s, when it was still probably the most dangerous, poorest neighborhood in America. And we left with nothing. We just got up and left.”

Payne goes much deeper into his history and childhood in his new book, Unbreakable Investor. His investing philosophy and detailed how-to guide comprised his previous book, Unstoppable Prosperity, which we detailed in this Barrett News Media space in November 2020.

In Harlem, Payne experienced a new life in so many ways.

“The culture shock was just mind-boggling, I gotta tell you. It was so, so mind-boggling to go from that manicured, organized life to one that was completely hectic,” Payne recalls. “I remember taking the train for the first time. You gotta remember, in the early 70s, they were still using trains from the 1950s. They had those real big iron, like rambling down the track, you know. Oh my goodness! So we took the first subway train, it was amazing. Coming out of the subway station, all of these buildings. All of these people. That part was absolutely amazing!”

To a trained media eye, both Brunell and Charles Payne share many traits in common. Among the most pronounced may be a curiosity and willingness to learn everything they can about their vocation’s key topics. 

Payne can still remember other facets of his new hometown, Harlem, as if it were yesterday.

“The first thing that struck me was the music. It was everywhere,” he said. “Coming out of windows. Coming out of cars. Coming out of boomboxes. And I’m like, stuff I’ve never really heard before. I’m like, ‘Oh snap, who’s that?’ Cause you know I was like digging Elton John, Philadelphia Freedom. That’s my man. But I heard Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes, I’m like who’s that? It was so amazing. We’d walk down the street, that was 145th Street and Saint Nick. Walk down the street, then we turned down the street where we were going to stay. And I saw the girls double-dutching jump rope for the first time. I’d never seen that. And again, the energy, I’d never seen anything like that.”

As a young boy, the change from the country to the city brought all kinds of new experiences.

“We took an elevator up to the apartment. That I thought was cool as hell,” Charles Payne remembers. “There was a strange smell in there that I later learned was pee. But initially, it was just like, this thing was really like, to live with an elevator. I don’t know if I’d ever even been in an elevator to that point in my life.”

Brunell has appeared on Payne’s Fox News program in the past, and she often speaks of the promise and hope that Bitcoin offers to poverty-stricken citizens worldwide.  During this conversation, Charles Payne said he encountered a level of violence and poverty in Harlem that he had never previously seen. The only correlation he could make, in terms of poverty, was to what he experienced down south when he visited his grandparents’ farm.

“As I became a man and the older I got, the more actually ashamed I was of myself, for not appreciating what my grandparents were pulling off there,” Payne noted. “Because when I went down there, it was like no electricity, no running water. Like, golly.” For these reasons, he didn’t love traveling down to visit his grandparents. However, in later years he began to truly admire his grandparents for their sacrifice in purchasing the farm. In fact, he tracked down the deed from the purchase to include in his new book at its publishing deadline.

“I finished the book but I cried that whole day,” Payne said of the deadline this past July 4th. “I mean, what they gave up to get that farm was just amazing. I have a copy inside the book. This was in 1952. And just the stuff that comes along with it. They became a target also. Most people didn’t own a farm down there, let alone a black family. So the Night Riders and the Klan gave them a hard time. It was really tough. And then just owning a farm is tough, but they wanted it. They saved up and they worked their ass off for so many years.”

Brunell, a polished interviewer who often speaks of her own family’s challenges after immigrating to America, has a knack for asking insightful questions and keeping the focus on her guests. Both she and Charles Payne have said they feel they are truly standing on the shoulders of giants, when they consider the sacrifices paid by their ancestors.

“When I hear people describe how hard it is these days, particularly millennials. Oh, my parents had it easier. My grandparents had it easier. You know, you have to put things into perspective. You not being able to pay your Uber bill is not the same. It’s not the same. And I urge everyone to invest, because everyone should be investing. It’s an amazing opportunity, and everyone can with certain sacrifices. They made an enormous sacrifice so that they could control their own destiny,” Payne said.

“You’re right,” Brunell added. “It’s the idea of sacrifice. That people do things so that not even just themselves have a better life and future, but so their kids and their descendents, their children’s children. And sometimes they give up a lot and they risk their lives and that is the American dream.”

Natalie Brunell has interviewed many of the top financial personalities on her Bitcoin-focused program – including Michael Saylor, Cathie Wood, Vivek Ramaswamy, Dan Tapiero, James Lavish, and Peter McCormack.

In next week’s column we will recap the rest of Charles Payne’s story, as Brunell advances the conversation from his childhood to how it influenced his investing philosophy. Most importantly, she’ll get him to open up about what investors should be focusing on today, regardless of their starting point.

Their focus on achieving the “American Dream” will be a fitting way to cap off 2023 and look ahead to the promising future of 2024.

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Proof That Both CNN and Fox News Manipulate Their Audiences

Playing with numbers and technicalities is a function of what the media does today. Since the average person just reads the headline, viewers will likely move on if it confirms their own bias.

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When news organizations collide, journalism loses. Last week, CNN posted on X saying “US inflation cooled down in January, offering some relief for Americans who have suffered through the steepest price hikes in four decades.” The same day Fox News posted “BREAKING: Inflation rises faster than expected in January as high prices persist.”

While these are seemingly opposite statements, both can be true at the same time. More importantly, both of these outlets are manipulating their audience.

People like their own opinions and want those opinions verified by others. This is what social media has done to news: You read the post, see your opinion is valid, and then move on to the next clickbait (confirmation bias). More importantly, both of these tweets are true because one is based on an estimate, and one is based on actual numbers.

Looking at CNN, while their post on X seems positive, their business headline is a little less positive, “Inflation cooled last month, but some price hikes continue to cause pain.” The change from tweet to headline is striking. One says Americans are getting inflation relief, the other says inflation continuing to cause pain. In today’s world of “Read the headline and move on,” this is why people feel CNN lies. Its post is in conflict with the headline— even though both are true statements.

It’s not until you read the article that people can see how this is possible. The outlet notes overall inflation did cool when comparing January 2023 (6.4%) to January 2024 (3.1%). Four sentences into the article it says, “CPI rose by 0.3% in January.” It goes on to break down why inflation is still high and causing pain in the pockets of Americans. Although the X post is factually correct, people on the right side of the political spectrum feel CNN is untrue because they see the inflation problem in their bank account.

Meanwhile, the Fox News X post and Fox Business headline are identical, “Inflation rises faster than expected in January as high prices persist.” However, the keyword here is “expected.” Inflation did cool year-over-year. However, because Fox is comparing the January 2024 number to what experts expected the number to be, what they have posted is factually correct. This nuance is sometimes lost on readers.

The article does not mention inflation is down year-over-year. However, nine sentences into the article, the business outlet says, “Inflation has fallen considerably from a peak of 9.1%.” The nuance of “expected” combined with the lack of mentioning year-over-year inflation is down is why the left side of the political spectrum believes Fox lies.

Let’s be clear, neither CNN nor Fox News have lied (on this one specific topic). They both chose to present the same data differently. It also needs to be noted, CNN and Fox News are not the only outlets that do this. They all do. Playing with numbers and technicalities is a function of what the media does today. Since the average person just reads the headline, viewers will likely move on if it confirms their own bias. The problem is twofold.

  • Facts are no longer direct but skewed to fit a narrative.
  • Some viewers accept headlines and posts without diving deeper into the article.

We have been trained to share a headline without reading the article. We’ve known this since 2016 when Columbia University and the French National Institute found 59% of shared social media links were never read. We’ve gone from headlines selling newspapers, forcing people to read the articles, to headlines being shared on social media, but people won’t read the articles.

This is only a small part of why The Messenger failed: neutrality. The sentiment of unbiased news was well-intentioned. However, America has lacked unbiased news since 1987 when the Fairness Doctrine was abolished. Many on the left believe this has helped right-leaning outlets. This is false. Not only has it benefited both sides of the aisle, it can be argued the progressives have benefited more than the conservatives (but that is a different article for a different day).

When news outlets collide, the American public loses. Not because we lack news, but because we lack the ability to read the full scope of the issues in one place. Outlets are not forced to present all sides of the political argument or present the entirety of data sets. Additionally, news is not being fully read. Headlines are now king. Shares, clicks, and likes keep the lights on in newsrooms. Most importantly, facts are now nuanced. This forces debate instead of continuity and cohesion.

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Does Dealing With Criticism Ever Get Easier?

Engage in the content of the criticism and ignore the rest – or at least take the high road. If that gets difficult, end the conversation.

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A photo of the word Truth written on a typewriter

Thick skin. If you work in media, you gotta have it. If you don’t, you either won’t last or you won’t sleep – or both.

Even if you are neutral politically, super nice, and in it for all the right reasons, there always will be people who criticize you, and some will even make it personal.

Having “thick skin” is a cliché I’ve been thinking about and dealing with for years. I find it fascinating that, somehow, I am way more sensitive at home than I am at work – and by at work, I mean on the air for hours every day.

Even the angriest of listeners are engaging, and engagement is what I want. Sometimes, it can throw a show off-balance, but if handled properly, it should never fully derail you.

Over the years, I have modified my professional behavior, perspective, and attitude, yet my foundational approach has not changed. It began with my first full-time television job when a journalist/mentor of mine told me not to ever act interested in ratings. Rather, he said, focus on my performance and content — the rest would take care of itself.

In my first two anchor/host jobs, it worked wonderfully. I immersed myself in the job, and the ratings were strong. I thought it was a mandate to always take this approach, although in retrospect, I was probably more lucky than good. Regardless, following that mantra actually allowed me to learn my craft and not be overly aware that ratings mattered.

Ignorance was journalistic bliss.

Flash forward to 2024 and it all seems rather naïve, but I think the approach really works well with criticism, too, whether it be on social media, through phone calls or even with fellow hosts.

Just a quick note on nuance: Look at the sentence four paragraphs above – don’t act interested. Looking back at the guidance given by my mentor, his point also seemed to be that even if you are laser-focused on how a show is rating, don’t make it a major topic of conversation, and don’t let people think it defines you as a broadcaster and journalist.

All of it may seem like advice from Fantasyland, but in an indirect way, this approach also makes me less vulnerable to criticism. I simply don’t focus on it too much, and over time, it stopped bothering me even if I did focus on it. Make sense?

Of course, it’s not as if I like it when a listener rips me or the show, either directly or on social media; but I never engage emotionally, and if I do respond in any way, it’s usually content-focused.

That’s the key.

Engage in the content of the criticism and ignore the rest – or at least take the high road. If that gets difficult, end the conversation.

You have the conch. Never forget that.

Ultimately, you’ll feel better, especially knowing you did not take the bait and handled it professionally – no need to create any more tension than is already out in the media eether.

That brings me to the moment a host of a show on my station was sharply critical of an interview I had done, saying it was soft, and not holding the guest (a sitting U.S. Senator) accountable enough.

Specific questions were put forth that absolutely should have been asked, according to the host, and honestly, it was used as a chest puffer for that person to show why certain guests were scared to come on that later show.

And … I thought it was great.

Great?

Well, maybe not great, but I actually had no problem with it. First and foremost, they were talking about it, which is good. When I can provide that kind of grist, it’s good radio. It wasn’t always easy to listen to — I was still in the office doing some booking — but for some reason, it did not bother me. This from a guy who gets a one-second side eye from my wife of 20 years, and I think our marriage is in trouble.

In the end, a few of the criticisms were helpful, believe it or not: One or two of the suggested questions put forth on the later show should have been asked.

It’s all part of the balance I seek to create a place where members of both political parties feel comfortable coming on our network. I always reserve the right to ask difficult questions, and I do ask them (apparently not enough for some), but I also try and be balanced and manage relationships.

It’s delicate, and sometimes, elicits criticism – sometimes deserved. Meanwhile, I just focus on the content, naïve as that may be.

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CBS Mornings Scores Big Post-Super Ratings Win

CBS Mornings became the most-watched program from 7-9 a.m. in total viewers for just the second time ever for a CBS morning news show.

Doug Pucci

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A photo of the CBS Mornings logo

The historic ratings milestones continue for CBS as a result of Super Bowl LVIII.

Less than nine hours following what turned out to be the most-watched telecast in U.S. TV history to date (120.25 million of the near-124 million watching Super Bowl LVIII did so on CBS), CBS Mornings became the most-watched program from 7-9 a.m. in total viewers for just the second time ever for a CBS morning news show.

For the Monday, Feb. 12 edition of CBS Mornings, which featured co-host Nate Burleson from Las Vegas, the site of Super Bowl LVIII, and a visit from Jon Stewart in New York to promote his Daily Show return (which generated great ratings milestones of its own later that night), it delivered 2.9 million total viewers including 654,000 within the key 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research. It marked its best total audience and demo figures since Feb. 4, 2022.

CBS Mornings topped ABC’s Good Morning America, the usual morning news viewer leader, by a mere 7,000 viewers; it also outdrew NBC’s Today (2.86 million) by 49,000 viewers.

CBS also bested ABC in A25-54 by +103,000; the sixth time CBS Mornings has led over Good Morning America this season based on the key demo.

This was not the first time a morning show benefited from a halo effect of what the network had aired the night prior. Mar. 8, 2021, was the first time CBS won in the morning. It was the day after Oprah Winfrey’s primetime interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry had aired which drew 17.1 million viewers for CBS. The Mar. 8, 2021 edition of CBS This Morning featured an exclusive interview with Winfrey and the premiere of never-before-seen clips from the Meghan and Prince Harry discussion, had delivered 4.793 million viewers with 1.026 million of them in the 25-54 demographic.

The program changed its title to CBS Mornings in September 2021.

For this 2023-24 season, CBS Mornings has the smallest deficit margin in viewers with ABC’s Good Morning America since the 2017-18 season and the tightest margin in A25-54 ever.

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