Friday, March 13, 2009

"There's a market for cocaine and hookers too!"

The obvious comparison was to Jon Stewart's "stop hurting America" Crossfire appearance, but this one almost had a Frost/Nixon vibe to it. The loud, bombastic Cramer meekly sat there taking punches for the entire episode, with a "hand in the cookie jar" look on his face. This was the evisceration of Jim Cramer and it was a sight to see.

If you haven't seen it yet, head on over to the Comedy Network and watch it, because the Stewart/Cramer interview certainly lived up to the hype.

Red Tory recaps the show here, and includes the clips the Daily Show pulled of Kramer saying:

"What’s important when you are in that hedge-fund mode is to not do anything remotely truthful because the truth is so against your view, that it’s important to create a new truth, to develop a fiction."

You can also check out a sampling of the reaction over at The New York Times or AP.

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  • I can't decide if I liked this or Stewart on Crossfire more. He's really something.

    By Anonymous Jason Bo Green, at 12:37 a.m.  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger McTavish, at 2:36 a.m.  

  • I was disturbed by the whole affair, frankly. I think it is problematic when a comedian commands such an audience that he can "call people out". Is Stewart "not a comedian?" Well he certainly morphs back into one, whenever people suggest he does not live up to the normal obligations of any journalist.

    In other words, Jon Stewart is a journalist, in whom many people have invested a certain authority, yet he cannot be criticized or held to any standard because he is just a comedian.

    At least with say, Jim Cramer, you can say, in a very objective sense, that his business reporting is bad. Jon Stewart is but the most advanced incarnation of soft news (Limbaugh, Olbermann, Cramer, Colbert, and O'Reilly are all instances of this) or infotainment.

    It is a dangerous trend that stresses the superficial over the substantive, the hot-button issue over bread and butter ones, confrontation over reconciliation and an ever-deepening of partisanship (which is worrying all the more, because soft news journalists realize their audience is overwhelmingly partisan, and so cannot challenge "their side" - Stewart only called out CNBC when they started criticizing Obama).

    What saddens me most is to hear Canadians calling for this kind of a circus in their own country. Our newsmedia is imperfect, but our Jon Stewart (Rick Mercer) mostly sticks to comedy, and our Walter Cronkite (Mansbridge) is still alive and well.

    Living in the United States, nothing makes me prouder to be Canadian than watching a few seconds of Lou Dobbs, Fox and Friends, CNN post-election coverage, or anything on MSNBC (be it snarky right wing morning Joe, or that bizarre mix of sociopath and liberal that is Keith Olbermann).

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 12:34 p.m.  

  • "It is a dangerous trend that stresses the superficial over the substantive, the hot-button issue over bread and butter ones, confrontation over reconciliation"

    Hear! Hear!

    By Blogger JimTan, at 12:52 p.m.  

  • I for one would love to see Mercer do this to Duffy. he really has it coming, and the media silence on that tells us so much about their bias and lack of credibility.

    By Anonymous DR, at 2:38 p.m.  

  • I read in AlterNet that Cramer has gone quiet and did not show for CNBC asppearances on Friday and the network is ticked because he did not defend them.

    News and entertainment are so much the same thing on TV because ratings rule. Politicians are lying about the state of the economy. Businesses are lying about their situations and the Cramers do rants with cheezy soound effects passed off as finaincial information.

    Cramer is sad, CNBC is sadder. Is Jon a sadist? Not in my books.

    By Blogger Ken Chapman, at 3:58 p.m.  

  • "I for one would love to see Mercer do this to Duffy. he really has it coming, and the media silence on that tells us so much about their bias and lack of credibility."

    But don't you get it? When you elevate Mercer (or Stewart) to serious journalist, they have journalistic obligations, which they clearly don't meet because they are overtly partisan.

    You don't want objective journalism - you just want the same old circus with your guys winning. I agree that Duffy blurred the line towards the end of his career (and clearly got a payoff). However, I don't think his behavior is typical of Canadian journalism, which generally is pretty fair (Harper complains, but I think it is legitimate to be tougher on the government than the opposition - or tougher on the frontrunner in elections).

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 6:53 p.m.  

  • Hi Hoser,

    I agree with many of your sentiments. However, I think Lenny Bruce and George Carlin and Eddie Izzard and Chris Rock, and many others, have challenged the establishment directly, without overt silliness or laughs, and I think it's often good when they do so. Of course, they're not doing 'news' shows, so that doesn't take away from your point at all, which is totally valid.

    I don't watch Stewart unless it's 'big news', like the above link. However, in my relative inexperience with him, I don't think he's overtly partisan. Constantly harping on Bush doesn't make a person overtly partisan. I suspect he's a Democrat, but I think he's fair, and just tonight someone at a party was telling me that Stewart gives more criticism to Obama than any other mainstream source he's familiar with (I can't say, I haven't been watching). Mercer has a definite, more obvious slant than Stewart.

    I do want objective journalism. We don't have it - if it takes a comedian to point a public finger, so be it. What, an actor can be President, but a comedian can't give commentary? You underestimate the role of any good comedian, sir.

    So Stewart wasn't very funny in that segment -- just because he's a comedian doesn't mean he has to be yukking it up all the time. The scene on that tape was disturbing and comedian or no, Stewart did an impressive job questioning Cramer about it.

    By Anonymous jason Bo Green, at 11:35 p.m.  

  • please give me a call
    (416) 227-2653

    By Anonymous wendy, at 12:01 a.m.  

  • Who, me?

    By Anonymous Michael Ignatieff, at 12:10 a.m.  

  • Jon Stewart "pretty fair"? During September he lobbed 211 jokes at McCain Palin, versus 29 at Obama/Biden (and of those Obama bore the brunt). If he is a comedian, that is not a problem. But if we are investing him with the sort of journalistic credentials his recent puffery seem to demand, then ratios like that are utterly ridiculous.

    I should add, it isn't as if he is generally a tough interviewer either. He sucks up to his important guests in order to get them on his show.

    See, for instance, his interview of Musharraf (Stewart decided to focus on such important questions as twinkies):

    Tony Blair (Stewart tries to "nail" Tony Blair's democratic peace argument, but doesn't seem to have realized that Argentina was not a democracy in the early 80's)

    Indeed, the only case where I have seen Stewart be a "tough interviewer" was with a debate with McCain over the surge (Stewart was wrong), and when Lynn Cheney went on the show. In both cases these were folks fairly desperate for media attention, who were also flogging books.

    So basically, we have decided Jon Stewart is a great journalist because of his incisive critique of a show where financial advice is given alongside sound effects (which Stewart seems to blame the bubble on), and another one where Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson yelled at eachother for 22 minutes.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 1:17 a.m.  

  • Stewart has been and still is a cheap shill for the Democrats. He likely always will be be.

    His audience is substantial but it sure isn't a cross sectional one. He preaches to his fellow Democrats.

    Just another latte liberal champagne democrat.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:10 a.m.  

  • Stewart is not generally a journalist. He's a political satirist who calls attention to hypocrisy in humourous ways.

    This instance happened when one of his targets took objection to his jokes, and he backed up his jokes with a reasoned, journalist examination/interview.

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 10:28 a.m.  

  • I saw this less as an attack on Cramer personally (though there obviously was some of this) but more of an attack on CNBC, for which Cramer essentially volunteered to be the public face.

    This surprises me. I thought Cramer would be saavy enough to avoid an ambush like this.

    By Anonymous john g, at 10:29 a.m.  

  • Whoa Hoser, I never said John Stewart was a "great journalist". I think I actually said he was a "comedian".

    I think what IslandLiberal says is right - he backed up his jokes with a serious talk.

    And it's not as if "great journalists" are tackling the issue. I think what Cramer said in that video about manipulating media to lever stocks is wrong -- just because you're a comedian doesn't mean you're not allowed to call it wrong.

    I can tell John Stewart is a sore point for you, because you're probably the most reasoned and seasoned commenter I can think of, and he seems to rile you. I watched the first link you put up - I don't get your point, though.

    It's a poor interview, you're right. However, I'm curious: how does this rank him as a liberal? My read on most liberals is that they attack Musharraf as a Bush ally who is a thug in his own right, etc.

    Again, I don't watch it very much, so I'm not an expert. But #'s of Palin vs Obama jokes?? Don't make me laugh, buddy -- every good showman has his finger on the big pulse. I'm reminded of the MC in Cabaret... It was cool to make jokes about the Nazis before it was cool to make jokes about the Jews. That's a not very helpful statistic.

    Frankly, finding that tape and then questioning Cramer on it was more "investigative journalist" than Cramer himself seems to be. Now Stewart's back to making fart jokes again, or whatever. I don't see the problem.

    By Anonymous jason Bo Green, at 11:44 a.m.  

  • Oh Fred, come on now - you're a cheap shill for the conservatives. Really, you have so much more in COMMON with liberal shills than not - you should all be buds!

    By Anonymous Jason Bo Green, at 11:47 a.m.  

  • "His audience is substantial but it sure isn't a cross sectional one. He preaches to his fellow Democrats."

    His audience - the core of which are young people weren't "typical Democrats" 8 years ago. In 2000 Bush tied Gore among the 18-24 crowd (among 18-29 year-olds Gore won by 2 points). In 2008, Obama won 18-29 year-olds by 34 points.

    The Daily Show is not solely responsible for that, but Stewart averages 2 million viewers a night, of which young people are a large proportion. That effect gets magnified as issues people talk with their friends about what they saw (in the intro to American politics class I taught, something being on the Daily Show was the only surefire way to predict that most students would be familiar with the event).

    So, Jon Stewart is not "just another Democrat". He has been a tremendously important figure (indirectly) in laying the foundations of Obama's winning coalition.

    Statistical analysis has found (as of 2004) that the Daily Show did not result in more positive evaluations of Kerry or Bush. I do not think that would hold for Obama (it might for Hillary Clinton). In other words, Stewart, is an Obama Democrat (which might be what you meant by champagne-sipping*).

    *Why is that a pejorative? I would be more likely to place myself on the left if expensive alcoholic beverages were offered. Indeed, the notion of myself sitting in a high-backed chair, clutching a glass of expensive port, and decrying the ill temper of the common man is precisely what attracted me to the right.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 11:49 a.m.  

  • Haha, great post Hoser.... best *'d add-on ever!

    By Anonymous Jason Bo Green, at 12:06 p.m.  

  • the Daily Show did not result in more positive evaluations of Kerry or Bush. I do not think that would hold for Obama (it might for Hillary Clinton). In other words, Stewart, is an Obama Democrat

    Hmm, see now this makes me think again (to repeat, I don't watch it much) that he's just an independent who really likes Obama. I have a feeling if Bush was raised a drunk coke-user business-failure into a powerful leftist/liberal family and became President, Stewart would still have nailed him as much as he did.

    By Anonymous Jason Bo Green, at 12:10 p.m.  

  • Stewart is a comedian/satirist. His show is aired on the Comedy Network (or Comedy Central). He has never tried to turn his popularity or credibility into a journalistic or political career. Yes, he has his opinions and he lets them show. But to go for the Canadian comparison, Rick Mercer delivers an editorial on his show every week (in the form of his famous rants), and has written for the Globe (notably during last fall's coalition crisis). Why can't a comedian also write/speak as a serious concerned citizen, so long as s/he never actually attempts to present him/herself as a journalist?

    I do agree that Stewart sometimes seems to be more serious and credible than most American journalists. But in what crazy world does this place a responsibility on Stewart to start acting like a professional journalist? Shouldn't Stewart's credibility in fact be a cause for shame on the parts of those journalists who seem more foolish than the comedian satirizing them?

    By Blogger - K, at 12:24 p.m.  

  • "This surprises me. I thought Cramer would be saavy enough to avoid an ambush like this."

    Unless Cramer actually wanted the spotlight to be put onto CNBC and financial reporting. As a hedge-fund manager he basically manipulated the market, perhaps he also knows how to manipulate the media (it's much easier). We wouldn't even be talking about this if he didn't go on the Daily Show.

    And why did he go on the show? It certainly wasn't to defend the conduct of CNBC or financial reporting.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:26 p.m.  

  • You know what? I didn't see anything in those clips that surprised me. Perhaps I'm jaded, or everyone else is naive; is it really all that surprising that the media can and is manipulated to further the interests of the stock market? Or to further the interests of a political issue or campaign?

    Let's get something straight. The "media" is not a neutral agent in modern society, nor is it a proxy for citizen participation in the democratic process.

    The "press" is not "free"; it takes money (advertising money, at the very least) to keep it running. For the most part, ownership of the media is co-incident with ownership of significant economic actors; does anyone really expect the media to act in any way that would substantively undermine those interests?

    Perhaps Cramer was crestfallen at being "outed" as advocating manipulation of both media and the markets, but it looked to me like he was falling on his sword for all those that do the same thing.

    Now, it's easier to identify him as an aberration, rather than typical. The hope, presumably, is that by having one individual identified as "corrupting" the market and media, attention will move on to other things. I think it would be better to take a closer look and see who else manipulates and corrupts the market, and how.

    By Blogger Party of One, at 5:03 p.m.  

  • It is ironic that Jon Stewart and a comedy show instead of the regulators or news media had to bring all of this public. Also in Cramers defense he is far less guilty than most of the other financial media for their efforts together with Wall Street, the politicians & incompetent regulators for what has happened.

    While I enjoy watching Cramer every night, one must remember the show is primarily entertainment. The financial networks exist to promote their advertisers financial and investment products. Who would expect them to warn about the credit bubble or coming Washington national debt collapse which will destroy much of the remaining private wealth in America today or what this will do to the dollar, the stock market, bonds, gold or the real estate market?

    China is now worried about their dangerous over investment in US Treasury obligations. Washington ’s long-term choice is either repudiation or monetization. For monetization to be effective, the depreciation in the dollar would have to be substantial and this in turn would dramatically raise prices of imports for American consumers which would mean a tremendous drop in foreign imports. Debt monetization would cause more disruption to exporting nations than selective repudiation of Treasury debt.

    The Campaign to Cancel the Washington National Debt By 12/22/2013 Constitutional Amendment is starting now in the U.S. See:


    Ron with 30 plus years in the investment business and banking industry.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:04 p.m.  


    Grit Girl strikes again!

    By Blogger Scott, at 1:33 p.m.  

  • Hoser, I don't like how Stewart trivializes events myself, but he most certainly is not a journalist, no more so than Rush.

    However, CNBC and Cramer chose, for whatever reason, to elevate him to journalistic level by taking his rant seriously. Fortunately for us, Stewart rose to the occasion and actually presented a journalistic investigation of the matter.

    What his bias might be on other days has little relation to the specific job he and his staff did in investigating Cramer and CNBC.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:11 a.m.  

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