Jon Stewart’s recent series of reports critiquing the CNBC and the financial media, culminating with the interview Thursday night with Jim Cramer, was absolutely brilliant. The satire in the segments over the course of the week was superb, which I expect. And by superb, I’m talking about keen insight and relevance. This was not an instance of cherry-picking honest mistakes by certain TV personalities, but a well-deserved indictment of the widespread dereliction of duty within the media (a regular theme on the Daily Show; here’s a transcript of a keen observation from the 2004 election). As Stewart showed, CNBC was one of the many within the financial media who had simply become cheerleaders for the financial industry, aiding and abetting the malfeasance of Wall Street through their complacency—at times even encouraging activity which was at least unethical, if not outright illegal.
But the interview with Cramer himself was a revelation. Stewart’s performance was a phenomenal example of what real journalism, financial or any other sort, should be. He asked very pointed questions, challenged Cramer’s statements, and held his feet to the fire. That is what the fourth estate is supposed to do; not act as a megaphone through which any given interest (the financial industry, the President, or anyone else) can publicize their message. Too bad we’ve had so little of that sort of journalism on the big stage this last decade.
Some fine essays on the topic:
- “There’s nothing unique about Jim Cramer,” Glenn Greenwald, Salon
- “Stewart Asks Cramer: ‘Where’s the D’Oh!’” Leslie Savan, The Nation
- “‘This Song Ain’t About You’: The Media Misses the Real Message of the Stewart/Cramer Interview,” Daniel Sinker, Huffington Post
- “And a Comic Shall Lead Them,” James Moore, Huffington Post
- “Sunday School with Jon Stewart,” Jim Wallis, God’s Politics