Jon Stewart Schools Jim Cramer
In last night’s edition of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (a comedic rendition of cable news shows), host Jon Stewart ripped CNBC’s Jim Cramer of Mad Money. This was a conclusion of a week of ripping on CNBC and Cramer’s angry replies. Stewart shows that it was not Cramer per se, but CNBC (and the other “business news” channels, Fox Business, Bloomberg, etc.) failure to do real journalism. For a decade they acted as cheerleaders and pimps for the Wall Streeters who were using the 401(k) s and pension funds of ordinary Americans for high risk gambling that made tons of money for the few while wrecking businesses and the economy and making off with our money. Cramer tried to make himself seem like a fellow victim, but, as Stewart showed, he was a former hedge fund manager who actually taught people HOW to game the system. Stewart’s most devastating critique is that CNBC and the other business channels saw themselves as friends of Wall Street–while they were SUPPOSED TO BE muckrakers, investigative journalists who DEFEND the ordinary Americans who thought their savings and pensions were safe and now can never retire or are losing their homes, etc.
The entire inteview, in two parts, is available at http://www.thedailyshow.com and I advise seeing it yourself. Tell others.
A democracy needs not only a non-corrupt legislature, executive, and judiciary, but a free press. But the function of a free press is not to shill for those in power, but to expose corruption and evil. The “muckrakers” of the Progressive Era exposed the unsanitary conditions of the meat industry and got laws changed to protect consumers. They exposed unsafe work conditions, etc. Modern business news journalists should not have been selling “get rich quick schemes” (which Stewart compares to infomercials!) but exposing those who were putting our economy at risk. The press cannot take the place of regulatory agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission, but in eras (like the last decade) in which agencies like the SEC were undermined by presidential administrations that promoted de-regulation mania, the press can put public pressure on regulatory agencies to do their jobs. That’s WHY we have a free press.
If a free press exists only to cheerlead a push for war (as both The New York Times and The Washington Post, the 2 most widely read newspapers in the U.S., did in the run-up to the Iraq invasion), never asking hard questions about the line coming from the White House, we could just substitute Pravda. If a free business press exists only to cheerlead the irresponsible practices of the financial sector, what makes them different from the PR firms of those companies?
The sad thing is that it takes a comic, the modern version of the court jester, to teach such elementary journalism to one of the premier faces of CNBC. In Stewart’s own words, the failure of CNBC (and the other business press) was irresponsible at best and criminal at worst. I hope they’re listening–and that we, the public, force them to listen.
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