Jon Stewart: Real Journalism

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:

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9 Responses to “Jon Stewart: Real Journalism”

  1. David Claiborne Says:

    Wasn’t it awesome how Stewart went all Frost-Nixon on Cramer? It’s a little sad when our comedians have to pick up the slack for our press, but it’s a start!

  2. rick g Says:

    I guess you feel good because Stewart is to Obama (a cheerleader) what Cramer is to Wall Street. I would still like a world of reporting versus issue advocacy. I don’t see any difference in these two. They are both biased cheerleaders for their position.

  3. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Rick, given that Stewart has mocked the messianic furor over Obama, lampooned the tax troubles of so many of Obama’s cabinet nominees, ridiculed much of the stimulus, and jeered Obama’s recent address on Afghanistan and foreign policy as a clone of President Bush’s, I fail to see how Stewart is a “cheerleader” of Obama. Just because he doesn’t follow the Fox News line doesn’t make Stewart an Obama cheerleader.

  4. rick g Says:

    Derek, you may be right in these are all points since the election. He does still have to make a living.

    No way can you make the case that he did not pick a side during the election. He was strictly Obama, all the time.

  5. Numismatist Says:

    I never miss the The Daily Show. I’ve now watched the Cramer episode twice. Roll tape 210. Jon Stewart kept me sane during the past election.

    Rick, I cruised over to look at your blog. You should contact Colbert about a guest spot.

  6. Emily (Emlouisa) Says:

    First of all, HELLO!!! I stumbled over your blog a few months ago and loved it, being a liberal mormon and being married to a liberal mormon and all. Funny when I realized that Greg and I went to college with you guys. 🙂 So Hi from Greg and Emily from Sutter Hall. At least I think that’s what it was called.

    We LOVE The Daily Show. And although it was squirmy and uncomfortable to watch, he did AWESOME with Cramer. I actually felt a little sorry for the guy. I’m not sure he expected Jon to be so…smart about the whole thing. Stewart may crack jokes and and be crass but the dude is intelligent. You can’t fake that in an interview like the one he had with Cramer.

    Hope you are both doing well.

    Emily A

  7. Tom Says:

    In response to Rick’s comment: Jon Stewart’s politics are not relevant to the discussion. It’s definitely a red herring. All that going to come from that vein of thought is a series of non-sequiturs.

    Jim Cramer is a Harvard-educated lawyer. He has had on-again/off-again experience as a journalist that spans 30 years. He has extensive experience in investment management. All of these fields require a high degree of skepticism and attention to detail.

    Despite his experience, it was comedian, not journalist, Jon Stewart, that gave him a clinic on journalism 101. Cramer deserved everything that he got. The sad thing is that Cramer is probably not alone.

  8. Federal Farmer Says:

    Jon Stewart has his moments, but calling his commentary “journalism” is a bit off. While it’s obvious today that our journalists have failed to measure up to the true calling of their trade, people like Jon Stewart aren’t filling that void… no one is.

  9. that1girl Says:

    Thanks for stumbling over to my blog. I’ve read yours in the past, but was too lazy to comment. 🙂

    And I loved the interview with Cramer.

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