So the big confrontation, tongue in cheek, finally happened between CNBC’s Jim Cramer and Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. What happened was an extraordinary interview that was short on comedy, but long on criticism for CNBC’s role in the financial crisis. Stewart reaffirmed his place as a leading critic of the mainstream media.
Here is part one of the interview:
Here is part two:
Stewart had Cramer on to engage in a serious discussion about the role of CNBC as the cheerleader in chief while Rome burned. Stewart did to CNBC a very similar thing to what he did to CNN’s Crossfire when he went on their show and called them out. Cramer tried to defend himself, and Stewart reminded him that this wasn’t about him. Stewart’s main point was that CNBC catered to the Wall St. class instead of doing actual reporting that would have benefited real investors. Stewart said that the business reporters who took the statements of those who were lying on Wall St. at face value weren’t doing their jobs.
Stewart came back to a common theme of his criticism of the media for not questioning what they are told. Stewart also said that it was unfair that Cramer had become the face of this thing, but he told Cramer that finance isn’t a f**king game like he treats as sometimes on his show Mad Money. What does it say about the state of journalism, when the most intelligent media critic in America hosts a mock news show? I watched the original interview as aired, and I watched the unedited interview before I wrote this post, and I think that this was the best exploration of the complicit role business journalists in the making of the crisis.
If you have seen Jon Stewart talk about the media in any of his more serious interviews like the one he did with Bill Moyers, that he has been saying some of the same things that he said in the Cramer interview for 6 long years. He is the singular voice in the mainstream media forest that is calling for journalism and accountability. I think Jim Cramer is more of a stand up guy than many other people in his profession, but even he played the game and bought the hype.
Stewart suggested that Cramer should offer a bit less comedy in favor of a bit more serious talk. Cramer said he would try it, and to his credit when he was busted with more video tape, Cramer took his lumps. This whole mess isn’t Jim Cramer’s fault, but unlike Rick Santelli, he was man enough to sit down for an in depth interview. CNBC is still the cheerleader network for Wall Street, and I don’t think that will change any time soon.