18 March 2009

Jon Stewart vs. CNBC

Every blog, every website, every pudit has weighed in this week on the Jon Stewart/Jim Cramer confrontation, so I won't dwell on the subject, but I did want to embed the video for possible future reference.

The introduction is laugh-out-loud funny. ("How weird is our world when Jim Cramer is on TV baking pie and Martha Stewart is the one who went to jail for securities fraud?")

But it quickly devolves into a serious, bitter reprimand by Jon Stewart (
  • "I know you want to make finance entertaining. But it's not a f***ing game."
  • "These guys at these companies were on a Sherman's March through their companies, financed by our 401Ks, and all the incentives of their companies were for short-term profit. And they burned the f***ing house down - with our money - and walked away rich as hell. And you guys knew that that was going on."
  • "But isn't that part of the problem - selling this idea that you don't have to do anything. Any time you sell people the idea that (you can) sit back and you'll get 10-20% on your money, don't you always know that that's going to be a lie. When are we going to realize in this country that our wealth is work?"
There's an excellent column at The Guardian that reviews not only this episode, but the history behind it.
It was this comedian who, like a court jester, told uncomfortable truths about the Iraq war when the mainstream media was playing cheerleader. Now, as the financial apocalypse unfolds, it is Stewart again who is scything through the herd mentality and culture of deference... a headline in the New York Times asked: "Is Jon Stewart the Most Trusted Man in America?"
James Fallows' take on the interview as serious journalism is here. Dan Sinker at HuffPo rightly points out that Stewart's target was not Cramer per se but financial reporting by CNBC in general. Glenn Greenwald at Salon echoes the Guardian's observation that CNBC's weak coverage of financial shenanigans was mirrored by the MSM's unquestioning acceptance of the Iraq war. Andrew Sullivan suggests that Stewart's example applies not just to televised journalism, but to the cyberworld as well:
In some ways, the blogosphere is to MSM punditry what Stewart is to Cramer: an insistent and vulgar demand for some responsibility, some moral and ethical accountabilty for previous decisions and pronouncements.
The video above will likely become, if not a watershed moment, certainly a defining meme that should be familiar to responsible citizens. If you've not seen it, at least bookmark it for future review.

(top image credit)


  1. It was truly amazing to see that berzerking loudmouth (and very amateur comedian) so totally, utterly humbled by one very astute and comedic observer.

    Reminded me of how a profusely sweating El Rusho completely imploded years past when he attempted live television dealing with real, live, unscripted... people.

  2. I remember seeing Jon Stewart take two television reporters who berated him for throwing softball questions at John Kerry during the 2004 Presidential Election. Stewart looked at them and then said "I have a comedy show. I'm not a news network." Stewart was exactly right. His show is comedy, and frankly, there are times that I find him funny. But the problem is that too many people watch the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and think they understand the problems and politics of the day. While I think Stewart is right on about Jim Cramer, the New York Times article asking "Is Jon Stewart the most trusted man in America?" is the kind of mentality that worries me. Stewart routinely gives partial information on issues in order to present a comedic point. And Stewart is not doing anything wrong. His show is COMEDY. I wish people would stop using it as the news. Whenever I have a debate with a more liberally biased friend, and they suddenly use Jon Stewart as a source, I cringe...and end the debate. Stewart is comedy. Not news.

  3. It's great that you're posting videos and all - but are you aware that some video sites, like hulu, only stream to the US?

    I'm in Canada, and the text on the embedded video is "We're sorry, currently our video can only be streamed within the United States"

    The next sentence is "For more information on Hulu's international availability, click here" and you know what happens when I click on the link? Absolutely nothing.

    I'm from Australia originally and I'm impressed with your general openness towards other countries - but sometimes (you are by no means the worst offender - many many many other blogs are far worse) you seem to ignore the fact that other countries exist.

    I really enjoy your blog, but please make sure that your content is accessible to everyone.

  4. I was impressed by Stewart's handling of the interview, and embarrassed for Cramer's. The apologizing he did on behalf of CNBC has me wondering how happy the PTB at CNBC are with him right now. Or if he's been offered up as the sacrificial lamb.

  5. The really sad fact of the matter is that we have such pathetic clowns like FOX News, which can't even raise itself to the level of comedy, let alone news.

    Paul, maybe that's what you get for bequeathing us with the likes of a Rupert Murdoch...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...