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Michael Richards gets a mulligan for the week
March 13, 2009 1:04 AM   Subscribe

"I understand you want to make finance entertaining, but it's not a f*ckin game." (parts 1 2 3) After trading blows over the last couple weeks, CNBC's Mad Money host Jim Cramer appeared opposite Jon Stewart as a guest on The Daily Show. While Cramer worked to keep his poise during the awkward exchange, the evisceration may call to mind Jon's appearance on Crossfire.
posted by Christ, what an asshole (273 comments total) 75 users marked this as a favorite

 
Stuff like this is why I prefer the Daily Show to the Colbert Report. Colbert is often funnier, but doesn't have the range to deal with stuff like this seriously.
posted by Ritchie at 1:08 AM on March 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


I get that Cramer's been riding the publicity wave of this "battle" but he should have never gone on the Daily Show. I can't see the upside to being turned inside-out on television and being made to look like an enfeebled twitchy crook.
posted by Donnie VandenBos at 1:11 AM on March 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


Also, this wasn't a traditional interview or guest appearance as such. It was more Stewart lecturing Cramer. There's definitely good stuff in there, though. It seems that Stewart recognized from the outset that there wasn't much use trying to elicit information from Cramer - all of these financial talking heads have revealed themselves to be either pitifully or willfully ignorant - and that interrogating him would have been a waste of airtime. The timing of the clips was excellent, particularly where Stewart baits Cramer into denying he engaged in short selling before showing a clip where he admits exactly that.

As an exercise, it worked more as an demonstration for the benefit of the audience: this is how journalism could be done.

I get that Cramer's been riding the publicity wave of this "battle"...

Oh, both the Daily Show and Fast Money have benefited immensely publicity-wise from this stoush, which is why both networks have been playing it up. Cramer had to go on TDS: his own ratings stand to benefit as much as Comedy Central's.
posted by Ritchie at 1:23 AM on March 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


Full episode is now up here.
posted by churl at 1:27 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


awesome.
posted by DreamerFi at 1:33 AM on March 13, 2009


Stuff like this is why I prefer the Daily Show to the Colbert Report. Colbert is often funnier, but doesn't have the range to deal with stuff like this seriously.

Nosir, youve got it all wrong.
It's not a choice between the two.
They complement one another.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:36 AM on March 13, 2009 [21 favorites]


I was struck by Jon's "linear probem -> geometric problem" description.

An actual intelligent comment on TV! To be fair, Schiff can speak with this clarity usually, too, but a format where two intelligent people are given the space to just hash things out doesn't exist on commercial TV or radio AFAIK.

Kinda got tired of the talking past each other in Pt 2 and didn't stick around for Pt 3. Ah, listening it to now:

Stewart: "our wealth is work" vs. "Fast Money"

Cramer is a character but his "They have NO IDEA!" rant from summer 07 was spot-on though somewhat misdirecting the problem on the Fed not doing enough to bail out Cramer's BSD buds running the street.

Cramer's audience is daytraders, not "the public", and thus it is a game. The S&P is up 10% this week. Various SPX calls are up 50-500% no doubt. The stock market is a casino with little oversight and a lot of noise.

He could have used that as a defense for his show. His show made more sense when the S&P was moving up & up and not rattling around the 2002 lows like it is now.
posted by troy at 1:42 AM on March 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Time will fade memories and CNBC and the others will keep on shilling as they have.

I have yet to see the fundamental changes that the financial media must make to properly protect investors.

I have yet to see the fundamental changes that the regulatory agencies, the SEC in particular, need to make to protect investors.

I have yet to see the fundamental changes that the ratings agencies (Moody's et al.) need to make to protect investors.
posted by gen at 1:42 AM on March 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


His show made more sense when the S&P was moving up & up and not rattling around the 2002 lows like it is now.

Here in Japan, the Nikkei is at 26 year lows, not 6 year lows.
posted by gen at 1:44 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow. Stewart eviscerated Cramer. Guy looked like he was going to cry there for a minute. Funny how his character changes from buffoon to normal person when he's actually confronted with the bullshit he preaches. Try finding that kind of truth digging on mainstream news. The frustrating thing is that this kind of zeitgeist reportage is being done by blogs, and in the mainstream...by The Daily Show (and Colbert to a degree). Why do we have to get this stuff from a glancing angle, from an eddy in the current of "serious" news?

Anyway, fuck Jim Cramer. Jon may very well have pulled a second Crossfire debacle and we might see his show be nixed by CNBC execs. Cramer's probably hitting the scotch hard right about now.
posted by zardoz at 1:45 AM on March 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


What's tragic is that someone said all the things I wanted to, and much better than I ever could, but once again, it was on the COMEDY SHOW that we depend on to be straight with us.
When it aired, I told my girlfriend "The internet will be on fire tomorrow about this" - sadly, a lot of people don't have cable/watch COMEDY SHOWS for politics/journalism... although I know CNBC was watching. you got served!
posted by hypersloth at 1:50 AM on March 13, 2009 [34 favorites]


+1 to everything hypersloth said.
posted by edmo at 1:52 AM on March 13, 2009


I don't know. I thought Cramer could have been a little more upfront about the fact that news is, unfortunately, mostly entertainment these days, even financial news, and he's just a clown and a shill.

But Stewart was going after the wrong guy, I think, and scapegoating is never pretty. His underlying assumption is that the majority of people make important financial decisions based on what the douchebags on TV say. I suppose that may be true.

But I'd rather see new assholes ripped out of the people who hired Cramer and run the news networks.

To his credit, Stewart ended by saying that it was unfair that Cramer has become the face of the issue, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:54 AM on March 13, 2009 [9 favorites]


I find it funny these court jesters are usually the most honest people in the room.

and not "funny- 'ha-ha'" ..... funny - strange.
posted by 5imian at 1:56 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


You got Stewart'd, son.
posted by pyrex at 1:56 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


No Canadian-friendly access links? Damn.
posted by Phire at 1:58 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is it really unfair to make Cramer the face of all this bs?

Not really. But to be fair he did volunteer.
posted by Talez at 2:09 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


But Stewart was going after the wrong guy, I think

I agree, but Stewart was going after the target that was presented to him - it's not like he was pursuing a particular beef against Cramer. The people who are more responsible than Cramer would never permit themselves to be caught on a forum they they didn't control, whereas being the public face of schmuckitude is virtually Cramer's position description, at the moment.
posted by Ritchie at 2:11 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, this wasn't a traditional interview or guest appearance as such. It was more Stewart lecturing Cramer.

Agreed, and it's hard to tell why they didn't mix it up more - Stewart seemed to talk at him and not pose too many questions, and Cramer seemed very deferential, like he was just there to let Stewart vent.
posted by UsernameFilter at 2:19 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Phire, somebody says that in every single post that links to comedy central or thedailyshow or hulu. Just get a good american proxy. Nobody's gonna change their post just for the sake of a few of us Canadians.
posted by tehloki at 2:22 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


stavros: But Stewart was going after the wrong guy, I think, and scapegoating is never pretty.

Agreed, but in Stewart's defense, he repeatedly said it's not about you, it's bigger than you, surely this kind of journalism has a responsibility and it's not entirely your fault, etc.
Cramer was given a rare opportunity to (get himself fired) confess, but instead capitulated to the network and its sponsors. I thought Stewart gave him a lot of outs, but I still sorta felt bad for the guy.
posted by hypersloth at 2:25 AM on March 13, 2009


I'm slow to type, but yeah, what Ritchie, UsernameFilter and Talez said while I was doing that.
posted by hypersloth at 2:31 AM on March 13, 2009


Crooksandliars.com has this up now for ye Continentals, Oceania types, etc.
posted by Wolof at 2:52 AM on March 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


gosh, is stewart careful in the beginning or what? was he worried cramer might come out swinging? the interview became interesting later when they both admitted to being snake-oil salespeople but this could have been a lot more intriguing.
posted by krautland at 2:58 AM on March 13, 2009


I'm slow to type...

Eponysterical.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 3:13 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


If the lying CEOs who've almost destroyed the financial system ought to be indicted, what about the White House staff and political officers who did the same and their shills in the political news media who regurgitated the bs to the masses?
posted by ceedee at 3:14 AM on March 13, 2009


> Crooksandliars.com has this up now for ye Continentals, Oceania types, etc.

I'm pretty sure all of Europe can watch the videos over at thedailyshow.com (I know I can here in the Netherlands, and seen people here on mefi mention other European countries where it works). I can only recall canadians saying they're getting blocked by the Daily Show.
posted by bjrn at 3:26 AM on March 13, 2009


I wonder what happened to all Cramer's Jon Stewart is "just a comedian" bluster that he's been spouting to any camera that will focus on him this week.
posted by Tenuki at 3:26 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait, I see you've got your location set to something in Australia; I stand corrected.
posted by bjrn at 3:26 AM on March 13, 2009


To be honest, I don't see how Cramer came across as badly as commenters here seem to believe. He's right. He is just a commentator. He pretty much said that yes, he could talk straight up about the inner workings of Wall street, but that it wouldn't rate. He has created an admittedly grotesque little niche for himself with his show, but he's providing something that (at least some) Americans seem to want to see. Stewart's comment about there also being a market for hookers and blow may be on the money, but frankly it's nothing but street theatre. The real issue is why shows like Mad Money get so many viewers. And Cramer is all too willing to admit that this should not the case, but it is. Stewart seems to knows this, and I'm glad to see he pointed out that Cramer, personally, was not the primary issue.
posted by kisch mokusch at 3:47 AM on March 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


That was strangely cathartic. Somehow it feels a bit like a superhero cross-over though. The Batman fans will forget who that strange bug guy was in their issue and the Spider-man fans will pretend that all that dark ink in their issue was just some new villain who will never return.
posted by Molesome at 3:51 AM on March 13, 2009 [11 favorites]


gosh, is stewart careful in the beginning or what? was he worried cramer might come out swinging?

I think Stewart started out deliberately low-key as a way of getting Cramer to drop his guard a little. If he'd started out as being completely adversarial Cramer would have been defensive from the beginning and we'd never have seen that wonderful moment where he denies being a short-seller only to be proved a liar seconds later. First blood.

But I also think that being low-key is just Stewart's natural style, and Cramer's as well. To me they both seem to be rather shy men who are incredibly uncomfortable with confrontation, and take refuge behind a different persona when they're on camera.
posted by Ritchie at 4:03 AM on March 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


The real issue is why shows like Mad Money get so many viewers.

Have you ever watched it? It's crazy entertaining - a perfect mix of content, loud noises and blinky lights. I don't necessarily feel any smarter after watching it, but it's great television.
posted by jbickers at 4:20 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, obviously Cramer knew from the get go what he was walking into. He's so damn submissive with the slumping shoulders and obsequious high tones in his voice, it was like fish in a barrel for Stewart.

Stewart seemed to be making a binary argument as in white collar vs. blue collar or wall street vs. working man. Though I'm not versed well enough in financial matters to say "Yay" or "Nay" on that, it does seem a bit to congruent.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:22 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here is a link for us lowly Canadians.
posted by gman at 4:26 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I felt bad for Cramer because I don't hold TV to high (or maybe any?) ethical standards. In the network system it's all a race for ratings and sensationalized phony bullshit clearly pulls them in.

It would be great if news programs were forced to self-identify as such, like wrestling calling itself "sports entertainment".
posted by frenetic at 4:56 AM on March 13, 2009


I'm no fan of Cramer, but like kisch mokusch says I think he came off as rather sympathetic. I mean, at least he admits he's kind of a dick. Stewart looked good as usual.
posted by bardic at 5:06 AM on March 13, 2009


attacking Jim Cramer because you are pissed off about the quality of Business Journalism is like attacking Don King because you are pissed off about hypocrisy in Professional Sports

If Stewart wants to take this on (and he should because its shocking) there are about 15 different people to put against the wall first. Unfortunately most of those people work for "serious newspapers" a genre Stewart is much more reluctant to attack.
posted by JPD at 5:12 AM on March 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


So Jon gets to roll videos, the audience applauds everything he says, and Cramer's clearly on his turf. The impressive thing about Jon Stewart's Crossfire appearance was that it wasn't his turf: he went onto someone else's show and pulled this stuff off. But this interview was different: Cramer was screwed from the moment he walked in, and he clearly knew it.

I also think that Jon Stewart's somewhat wrong in what seems now to be his main criticism of CNBC. He's saying they should be more "journalistic" in their coverage: investigate claims, get to the bottom of things, and so forth. I really don't think that's their job: their job is letting you know what people are saying, so you can draw your own conclusions. The other part of it (CNBC's advice is very disingenuous, they should and do know better) is spot-on, however.
posted by goingonit at 5:13 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just to be clear, the 30-minute version that aired last night (or at least on Hulu) made Stewart look a lot more preachy because it cut out a lot of the back-and-forth. These outtakes of the interview display a much more reasonable progression of ideas.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:16 AM on March 13, 2009


As an exercise, it worked more as an demonstration for the benefit of the audience: this is how journalism could be done.

I think this is really important. Cramer is a scapegoat for all of CNBC, who are scapegoats for the rest of the finance reporters in the mainstream media. Stewart is pissed off that these guys didn't do their job - they didn't report on anything, they just regurgitated press releases and whatever their buddies from the boardroom told them to say.

Cramer's defense for not knowing about the Bear Sterns thing is that the CEO lied to him. Then Stewart pins Cramer down for one of his lies, by doing research and looking into freely available materials that are more than 24 hours old. Which is what a journalist or a reporter is supposed to do, for Christ's sake.

Financial journalists should have been sounding the alarm years ago. If they'd done their jobs, you know, the whole fourth estate thing, keeping an eye on everyone, then the GFC could have been averted or (more likely) lessened before it took down the global markets.

According to some quote site on the internets, a dude named Lord Northcliffe said "Journalism is something that someone somewhere doesn’t want published. Everything else is advertising." I wish someone who owns a major media outlet would realise this.
posted by harriet vane at 5:16 AM on March 13, 2009 [70 favorites]


I liked the interview (have not seen the unedited version yet) and am generally on Stewart's side.

Were I Cramer, though, when Stewart laid on him regarding not checking up to see if what CEO guests say is the truth, I'd point out that TDS never follows up as to whether or not the movies their guests come on to promote are actually entertaining. Yeah, it's a matter of scale here (Spending 10 bucks to see "The Rocker" vs losing 10 grand with Bear), but if there's an expectation for entertainment-oriented commentators to check up on their guests, it works both ways. Maybe the follow-up doesn't need to be on the same show, but certainly should be on the same network.

Of course, Comedy Central's obligation to follow up is a lot different than CNBC's. CNBC claims to be a financial reporting network, Comedy Central claims it will have reruns of Scrubs at least 4 times a day.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:18 AM on March 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


I absolutely love Jon Stewart. He is an incredible talent, very smart, very funny.

But, especially as seen in the Crossfire appearance, he wants to have it both ways. He wants to be seen as a tough journalist, and tell others how to do their jobs, but then hides behind the "hey, it's just a comedy show!" when criticized.

Despite that... I'll keep watching.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 5:21 AM on March 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


I dunno, Fuzzy. I think the sorry state of the news media has made a lot of people want Stewart to be a tough journalist, based on some of the spots they've seen him do on TDS, but he backs away, preferring to be a comedian.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:24 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


COLD BUSTED!
posted by shakespeherian at 5:26 AM on March 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


I don't think he does want to be seen as a tough journalist - I think he feels driven to set an example, or be a watchdog, by the complete lack of decent journalism that's available to the average person.

Anyone can do it, if sufficiently motivated and intelligent. Stewart could have gotten a job as a journalist if that's how he wanted to be seen, and if he was at any of the major news shows or papers it'd probably involve less work than he puts into TDS each night.

But yeah, the movie star interviews are crap.
posted by harriet vane at 5:28 AM on March 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


Wow, that was better than I thought it would be. Excellent. Thank you Jon!
posted by Pollomacho at 5:28 AM on March 13, 2009


Or what robocop said :)
posted by harriet vane at 5:29 AM on March 13, 2009


Were I Cramer, though, when Stewart laid on him regarding not checking up to see if what CEO guests say is the truth, I'd point out that TDS never follows up as to whether or not the movies their guests come on to promote are actually entertaining.

I think Jon addressed that very well in his crossfire interview, where he gets a similar complaint about him not asking the tough ones.

On the other hand, he may very well claim he's hosting a comedy show and not a news show, I find his crossfire interview and this cramer interview way, way funnier to watch than, for example, one of his "clusterfuck to the white house" segments - those are funny, but forgotten the next day. This one isn't.
posted by DreamerFi at 5:37 AM on March 13, 2009


Jon Stewart never claims what he is doing is the news and is very upfront about that, just as he was in this interview about the "snake oil salesman" shtick.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:39 AM on March 13, 2009


Very slick, Jon. Sure you're not a journalist?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:42 AM on March 13, 2009


Jon Stewart never claims what he is doing is the news and is very upfront about that, just as he was in this interview about the "snake oil salesman" shtick.

But then he does do the news. Other than being less funny, how would the substance of this interview be different if he were on 60 minutes? And he gets to take credit for that stuff, but when he missteps nobody's allowed to call him on it.
posted by goingonit at 5:43 AM on March 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


The timing of the clips was excellent, particularly where Stewart baits Cramer into denying he engaged in short selling before showing a clip where he admits exactly that.

Selling short? Anyone with an E*Trade account can sell short. It's literally just a pull down option. There are also entire ETFs and mutual funds that are short, like SRS and SKF that go up when the market goes down. Anyone can buy them, it's not illegal at all.

What Cramer was admitting to doing in the clip was market manipulation: giving out bad information or getting other people to buy and sell a stock to create some impression to people looking at the price in order to make it look like something is going on when it's not.
posted by delmoi at 5:43 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Re: Cramer's comments about spreading rumors about Apple to pump up its stock, isn't publicly spreading rumors about a company — for the explicit purpose of manipulating a company's stock price — illegal? Don't people go to jail for that?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:46 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


But then he does do the news.

I only watch TDS occasionally, but isn't it a parody of news and a lot of satire? Not actual reporting?
posted by P.o.B. at 5:47 AM on March 13, 2009


I'll bet Cramer doesn't think Stewart is "just a comedian" any more. I'm amazed by the people who have sympathy for Cramer. He's a liar and a crook. He knows exactly what he's doing, and he doesn't care. The fact that he can look chagrined when called on it doesn't count for much. The hookers and blow point was spot on. Sure, there's an audience for garbage like his, but that doesn't make it right. There's an audience for weight loss pills and homeopathic cancer cures. Yeah, if Cramer wasn't selling it, somebody else would, but that doesn't change the fact that he's the scumbag selling it right now.

I only watch TDS occasionally, but isn't it a parody of news and a lot of satire? Not actual reporting?

Did you watch the freaking clip that we're talking about?
posted by diogenes at 5:49 AM on March 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


Have you read through this freaking thread?
posted by P.o.B. at 5:52 AM on March 13, 2009


Actually, I thought this interview was more like a cross examination by a good lawyer then an ordinary interview.

But Stewart was going after the wrong guy, I think, and scapegoating is never pretty. His underlying assumption is that the majority of people make important financial decisions based on what the douchebags on TV say. I suppose that may be true.

Cramer was the only one who showed up. They were going to have Santelli (the guy who's rant about not wanting to didn't want to bail out "the losers" was all over the tubes a couple weeks ago) but he bailed.

If the lying CEOs who've almost destroyed the financial system ought to be indicted

Yeah, they should be indicted! I have idea why these financial CEOs were allowed to get away with making the statements they did about their stocks. The Lehman brothers CEOs were saying their company was fine just a few months before they blew up: Specifically they said they were fine after Bear Sterns blew up. The system works because people trust CEOs. That may sound like a bad idea, but the reason people trust what CEOs say isn't because they think CEOs are honest, but because there are supposed to be legal repercussions if they lie.

Cramer did say he thought there should be indictments over this on The Daily Show.
posted by delmoi at 5:53 AM on March 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Fuzzy Skinner: "I absolutely love Jon Stewart. He is an incredible talent, very smart, very funny.

But, especially as seen in the Crossfire appearance, he wants to have it both ways. He wants to be seen as a tough journalist, and tell others how to do their jobs, but then hides behind the "hey, it's just a comedy show!" when criticized.
"

That's not really fair -- you shouldn't have to be an investigative reporter yourself to criticize the media (something which Stewart essentially is at his best, but doesn't bill himself as). I think he's taking the smart approach in these confrontations, and the right one: he's attacking these people as a (smart, engaged) layman. He's always emphasizing that he's on the outside, and that it pains him, along with everyone else, to see the media fail in its responsibilities to the people.

He made this position clear in both appearances you mentioned. On Crossfire, he put it thusly (emphasis mine):

"See, the thing is, we need your help. Right now, you're helping the politicians and the corporations. And we're left out there to mow our lawns."

And with Cramer -- in the unaired part, at least -- he couched his anger in personal terms, saying that his 75-year-old mother had lost her savings because she had trusted the stability of the long-term markets. He didn't come at it as one reporter pissed at his colleague's failings, but as an average American who has been personally hurt by those failings, along with millions of others.

So I don't really see Stewart as using some quasi-journalistic authority to bash the media only to hide from that role's responsibilities. To me he comes off more as an everyman, sheepish to be typecast as anything other than a comedian and angry that the media has dropped the ball so completely that such a thing is even possible.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:55 AM on March 13, 2009 [52 favorites]


What has to be kept in mind in all this is that Stewart works for Viacom, the only major media company in existence without its own news network. I wonder if he'd be making these comments if Viacom had its own mock-worthy products.
posted by Pastabagel at 5:56 AM on March 13, 2009 [12 favorites]


P.o.B.: "I only watch TDS occasionally, but isn't it a parody of news and a lot of satire? Not actual reporting?"

Stewart and his writers expose hypocrisy and absurdity in the media and in government on a nightly basis, with video evidence. Of course he does this mainly for laughs -- the only reason people consider it to be reporting is because almost no one else does it. What should be a commonplace practice in the media (comparing what a person says or does now to what they've said or done in the past) is relegated to a political comedy show, while the "real news" wastes time on celebrities and disasters and simplistic rehashing of talking points from both sides.

When was the last time you saw CNN or NBC exposing liars with the same regularity as The Daily Show?
posted by Rhaomi at 5:59 AM on March 13, 2009 [14 favorites]


I'd point out that TDS never follows up as to whether or not the movies their guests come on to promote are actually entertaining.

I've seen both Stewart and his guests say the movie isn't entertaining or ignore the movie for almost all of the interview several times.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:02 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have idea why these financial CEOs were allowed to get away with making the statements they did about their stocks. The Lehman brothers CEOs were saying their company was fine just a few months before they blew up

If they said anything other than 'Our company is 100% A-OK' they would be facing massive shareholder lawsuits before the interview segment ended. Which is more of an indictment of the 'Shareholders Uber Alles' form of capitalism that is practised these days. When it comes to appearances in the media it's best to treat whatever a CEO says like you would Baghdad Bob.
posted by PenDevil at 6:02 AM on March 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


...isn't it a parody of news and a lot of satire? Not actual reporting?

According to that great quote above, "Journalism is something that someone somewhere doesn’t want published." By that metric, Stewart is doing "actual reporting". He also happens to be really funny.
posted by DU at 6:05 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Rhaomi, Maddow does a good job at times: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/
posted by dawiz at 6:05 AM on March 13, 2009


I'd point out that TDS never follows up as to whether or not the movies their guests come on to promote are actually entertaining. Yeah, it's a matter of scale here (Spending 10 bucks to see "The Rocker" vs losing 10 grand with Bear), but if there's an expectation for entertainment-oriented commentators to check up on their guests, it works both ways.

It actually doesn't. I may go see The Rocker and have a great time, you may see it and may be miserable, or vice versa. It's purely a subjective call. I am pretty sure, though, that neither one of us would enjoy losing ten thousand dollars. Nothing subjective about math.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:08 AM on March 13, 2009 [8 favorites]


robocop is bleeding: "Were I Cramer, though, when Stewart laid on him regarding not checking up to see if what CEO guests say is the truth, I'd point out that TDS never follows up as to whether or not the movies their guests come on to promote are actually entertaining."

I don't know about that. Stewart mocked Benjamin Button on multiple occasions, even though the movie was produced by a subsidiary of Viacom. And he praised Slumdog Millionaire while interviewing Dev Patel even though it was a rival of Button's, which is surprising for the same reason.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:13 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well I'm not arguing whether we can glean news from TDS, but a question of whether we can hold Stewart up to "journalistic standards". He has answered by saying "No, I'm doing comedy". I would agree.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:13 AM on March 13, 2009


If they said anything other than 'Our company is 100% A-OK' they would be facing massive shareholder lawsuits before the interview segment ended. Which is more of an indictment of the 'Shareholders Uber Alles' form of capitalism that is practised these days. When it comes to appearances in the media it's best to treat whatever a CEO says like you would Baghdad Bob.


My rule of thumb is "If you meet with a management team and don't immediately think their company is the greatest investment idea in the history of investing something is seriously wrong"
posted by JPD at 6:14 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


SKF and UYG are ultras based on the US financials - meaning they go up or down 2 to 3 times the sector. For the past few days, it's been UYG's turn. It has almost doubled in the past week. Because SKF is the inverse, it has almost been halved in the past week. Having said that, these two ETFs have taken my portfolio which was down 70% just 2 months ago, back up to par. You get to play the most volatile sector as an ultra, so anytime some bad news comes out and people panic, SKF skyrockets.
posted by gman at 6:15 AM on March 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


I thought Cramer looked like a cringing, beaten dog, promising I CAN CHANGE! Really, I'll stop peeing on the rug!

CNBC isn't journalism and as soon as NBC quits pretending it is, the better off we all will be. Stewart's right--it's a day-long infomercial raving about the brilliance of Wall Streeters, meaning its viewers, and a chance to perpetuate a conservative political view in the process.

Cramer wasn't Stewart's main target in the beginning of this fracas. He's just the one, along with Santelli, who reacted to Stewart the most.

I, too, see this as comparable to the CNN Tucker Carlson takedown. Stewart has repeatedly said he's not a journalist but simply a person, admittedly with a great platform, who feels compelled to speak up and criticize the failures of journalism. More power to him.

Coincidentally, I was at an academic conference on journalism and news literacy yesterday and the debate over whether Stewart is a journalist or an entertainer came up for quite a bit of discussion. I take Stewart at his word, that he's not a journalist, partly because he doesn't do original reporting so much as simple commentary on clips. But after watching last night, I find it difficult to distinguish between what journalist/commentators do and what he did.

I fear that CNBC will simply milk this for ratings and not actually change its act.
posted by etaoin at 6:18 AM on March 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


Well I'm not arguing whether we can glean news from TDS, but a question of whether we can hold Stewart up to "journalistic standards". He has answered by saying "No, I'm doing comedy". I would agree.

You watch that interview and think Stewart is doing comedy? Really? You apparently have a different working definition of comedy than I do.
posted by diogenes at 6:21 AM on March 13, 2009


If they said anything other than 'Our company is 100% A-OK'...

If you meet with a management team and don't immediately think their company is the greatest investment idea in the history...

Meanwhile, over in MeTa, saying you don't like a business might hurt their feelings, so don't do it.
posted by DU at 6:23 AM on March 13, 2009


Stewart thinks Stewart is doing comedy.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:27 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyway, fuck Jim Cramer.

QFT. QED.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:28 AM on March 13, 2009


But Stewart was going after the wrong guy, I think, and scapegoating is never pretty.

I don't think this was scapegoating at all. CNBC, with Cramer's full consent, has placed Cramer as a mouthpiece in this "fight" so who else would Stewart bring on to lambaste? The COO of CNBC? Would anyone even know who he was talking to or should he bring on the guy that has set himself as the symbol of CNBC?
posted by Pollomacho at 6:29 AM on March 13, 2009


Cramer was a sacrificial soldier. He took the heat and became the face for million dollar gold parachute CEO fucksticks behavior so they could continue doing what they are doing and not take any blame. Get some of these CEOs on the daily show and have them defend why in the hell they deserve these "Bonuses and Perks" while people are losing their jobs. This was nothing more than a moral victory.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:39 AM on March 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


I wish Santelli had gone on.
posted by delmoi at 6:39 AM on March 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


I don't think this was scapegoating at all.

That's fine. My point is and was that Cramer's a fucking tool, an obvious idiot (or, more likely, someone who is craven and greedy enough to pretend to play the Fool, for the right sum of money), and therefore easy fucking pickings. Easy and safe and disappointing when he turns belly up and throat exposed.

Not worth the time or energy, as anything other than spectacle and media-pump priming. Which was a subtext of the whole cynical exercise, of course, on both sides of the thing.

so who else would Stewart bring on to lambaste? The COO of CNBC?

Fucking yes. Goddamn right. Anybody who ostensibly takes responsibility for the moneywhore decisions that craven puppet-boy Cramer and his ilk dance to, that have doomed us to the kind of mind-rotting infuriating cess that CNBC and CNN and all the rest pump out.

Not that there's a human hand or mind behind it in the end, probably, or anything but committees and databases and the same kind of quant-wonk numbercrunching idiocy that has flushed every other part of our collective culture straight into Shit City Arizona. But it's nice to believe there's some Power Douche in an office that you could string up and throw rocks at, all Il Duceriffically, isn't it?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:42 AM on March 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


"I understand you want to make finance entertaining, but it's not a f*ckin game."

Might as well be.
posted by Brian B. at 6:46 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I agree with 5imian, The Daily Show is playing the Court Jester to everyone else's straight news. The jester can say whatever he wants, and often what needs to be said, precisely because he hides behind the front of comedy. Something like kidding on the square, except doing so with a goofy grin. Jon Stewart will ham up the act, but he'll also call things as they are.

Other news shows need to pander to those they interview. Step on too many toes, ask too many tough questions, and you might lose your access to the insiders and the CEOs. With a few networks running 24 hours of news, none of them can lose that access, or they'll be behind the others.

I think part of the problem is 24 hour news has to be running and engaging (or entertaining) 24 hours a day. They have the ability to get stories out as they happen, but if something is reported as it happens, that's not a lot of time to fact-check or elaborate beyond the plain facts. If one network doesn't pounce on it, the others will and the slow network will look like it's behind in the world of fast-paced reporting. Who wants to watch slow news? The Daily Show has staff and time to review events, and come up with witty, insightful comments on the events of the day. Their only race is to their daily deadline, and they have limited time to tell their stories. If something's not complete, it can be discussed tomorrow, with more background and better clips.

TDS and news stations are playing different games at many levels. But they're all fighting for eyes and attention.

(And what's with Jim Cramer's sleeves? Why doesn't he just buy short sleeved shirts? Or at least put some effort into rolling his sleeves so they don't end up being a wrinkled mess at the end of the day? Ironing sleeves can be annoying.)
posted by filthy light thief at 6:49 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


so who else would Stewart bring on to lambaste? The COO of CNBC?

Fucking yes. Goddamn right. Anybody who ostensibly takes responsibility for the moneywhore decisions


Guys like that do not go on comedy news shows, no matter what sort of media power the show weilds. The only time the COO of CNBC goes on record in a public forum is with a subpoena in his hand. My point was not that Stewart should have had the COO on, but rather there was no one other than their media face, Cramer, to have on. Cramer was a stooge and a tool, but there was no one else to act in his place. It's not cheap or scapegoating that Stewart chose Cramer to pillory, the alternative would be no one and that was exactly what Stewart was railing against CNBC for doing, nothing.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:50 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Guys like that do not go on comedy news shows

Precisely.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:51 AM on March 13, 2009


And what's with Jim Cramer's sleeves Tucker Carlson's bow tie?
posted by Pollomacho at 6:52 AM on March 13, 2009


I think trent reznor said it better than I could, except substitute Jim Cramer for Chris Cornell
posted by tylerfulltilt at 6:54 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


This was nothing more than a moral victory.

More like Cramer thrown to the coliseum's lions. Not that I'm trying to defend him, but bread and circuses (like TDS's "comedy show") are useful distractions.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:55 AM on March 13, 2009


I guess what makes me absolutely grimace about Jim Cramer is that this is one of his standard defenses - this schtick about "I have no idea why people even watch my dumb dumb show."

He wrote an article in New York Magazine about it in May 2007:
For the people who still can’t stand me, anything I do, or what I claim to stand for, I can offer only one thing. Despite the fact that wherever I go I get asked for my autograph, and if I stop for too long I end up getting my picture taken with a dozen strangers, I remain completely and utterly repulsive to myself.
And that! That is a behavior that drives me up the wall every time I see it. In the spirit of being best annoyed by what you dislike most in yourself, Jim Cramer is the worst version of middle-school me. Attention-grubbing, self-aggrandizing, and preemptive in his attacks against himself. "You couldn't possibly dislike me more than I do." He's that kid in your class that you knew was actively plotting for your teacher's sad sympathy.

Jon Stewart simply managed to forego the cringing long enough to legitimately hold Cramer up to his words and actions. I think Stewart is sometimes amazing in his capability to step outside the system of his media and calmly maintain the argument for rationality and responsibility.

So no, Jim Cramer. I cannot be bothered to pity you until you stand up for yourself and the stupid things you have done and let us approach you as someone worthy of respect. I'm not going to stand here and watch you punch yourself for transgressions you don't regret. Either admit you're a monkey or admit you know something about how things work. You can't have both anymore.
posted by lauranesson at 6:57 AM on March 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


There are different connotations of "game" here. Game theory is a branch of applied mathematics that is used in the social sciences (most notably economics), biology, engineering, political science, international relations, computer science (mainly for artificial intelligence), and philosophy. Jim Cramer was referring to it more in terms of kids games of fun and no consequence (which still can be viewed through the lens of game theory). Just sayin'.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:57 AM on March 13, 2009


Financial journalists should have been sounding the alarm years ago.

They were. Not that it took a PhD in economics to see that the levels of growth were ludicrously unsustainable. When I hear people talking about how they were somehow "blindsided" by the market collapse following the bursting of the housing bubble, well… I can't laugh at them, but it sure is hard to feel sorry for them.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:57 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


And what's with Jim Cramer's sleeves?

Theatre. It's all theatre. And much as I love ol' Jon S, his millionaire moral indignation isn't a whole lot more convincing than Cramer's millionaire mea culpa.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:58 AM on March 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


I wish Santelli had gone on.

If Santelli had gone on last week (as scheduled), there wouldn't have been the original CNBC smackdown segment which set off the chain of events that led to Cramer appearing on the show last night.
posted by Poolio at 6:59 AM on March 13, 2009


I suspect part of the problem is that if "serious" news channels go after people in interviews they get frozen out and don't get access any more. This is the same thing that politicians and the white house have pulled. Interviewees get to agree on the questions in advance and the reporters can't vary from the script or else they lose access. It's only if the reporters or the network have less to lose that they can feel freer.

Perversely I wonder if this could in part be due to the number of outlets in the market. Maybe in the UK for example, the BBC can go after politicians relatively aggressively because there just aren't a lot of alternatives.
posted by idb at 7:00 AM on March 13, 2009


you might lose your access to the insiders and the CEOs.

I keep hearing about how the news media need "access" and I keep not seeing it. First of all, forget the CEOs. As already demonstrated above, the "officials" not only will lie, they have to lie. What's the good of access if you already know what they will say?

As for "insiders" or other sources of information: How can bloggers, who generally have no access at all, be blowing the traditional media out of the water (which they are) if access is the be-all, end-all? By combing public sources, for one thing. Disinterested observers. Facts (such as from scientists or other academics with no financial interest).

Also, if you get a good reputation, you can force access in the rare case where you need it. I don't mean forcing by saying "if you come talk to us we won't print this bad story about you". I mean the perception that if the company won't reply to a story it's maybe because they don't want to dig themselves in deeper. Whereas if the journalist is crap, the company can just say "we don't respond to rumors". Make them come to you, don't go crawling out there and beg for scraps that will turn out to be lies anyway.
posted by DU at 7:02 AM on March 13, 2009 [11 favorites]


stavros, i totally agree with you but you understand that the COO of CNBC won't go on TDS because it could indeed implicate him. Cramer looks like he was cleared by his lawyers. Santelli, not so much. Santelli could indeed be indicted for what he did on the floor given how it indeed show how his "reporting" has been manipulating the markets WITH THE CONSENT OF HIS EMPLOYERS.
posted by liza at 7:08 AM on March 13, 2009


What Cramer was admitting to doing in the clip was market manipulation

Uh, true. I sacrificed accuracy for haste in posting otherwise. I'd just finished watching the show and wanted to get my impressions down while they were fresh.
posted by Ritchie at 7:09 AM on March 13, 2009


Why does Stewart have such a whiny hard-on about journalistic integrity? First, he has no basis for it, he's a b-list comedian doing a cutesy comedy news show for 13 year olds. All the 'journalists' he's attacking are similar entertainers trying to get ratings. Who gives a fuck about any of it? Well, it got my attention for 5 minutes. Good job media!
posted by norabarnacl3 at 7:09 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Stewart thinks Stewart is doing comedy.

So the fact that he claims to be a comedian and not a journalist automatically makes everything he does comedy? I don't think that's true.

And much as I love ol' Jon S, his millionaire moral indignation isn't a whole lot more convincing than Cramer's millionaire mea culpa.

But at least Stewart's moral indignation is informative and, I dunno, right.
posted by diogenes at 7:09 AM on March 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Cramer admitted Stock Market Manipulation back in December 2006: "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."
posted by Lanark at 7:10 AM on March 13, 2009


You watch that interview and think Stewart is doing comedy? Really? You apparently have a different working definition of comedy than I do.

He's not doing simple comedy--he's doing satire. And in the tradition of the great satirists like Swift, Twain, and Vonnegut (even going back to the Aristophanes), satire has always taken on timely social and political issues and offered biting criticism in the form of humor. That's what defines satire.

When Stewart says he's only a comedian that's exactly true. Satire has always entailed offering veiled commentary on current political events and other controversial subjects.

The claim that it's not his job to be a journalist is absolutely true. But nevertheless, when he uses humor to address serious topics that journalists either avoid or mishandle in some way, he's doing exactly what the role of the satirist demands. So no, there's nothing at all inconsistent or hypocritical about a satirist like Stewart mocking the press while at the same time maintaining the claim that he's just a comedian. For satirists, that's just the job description.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:11 AM on March 13, 2009 [21 favorites]


All the 'journalists' he's attacking are similar entertainers trying to get ratings. Who gives a fuck about any of it?

People with former retirement accounts and jobs probably care a little bit that the financial advice they were being given was actually "for entertainment purposes only".
posted by DU at 7:14 AM on March 13, 2009 [11 favorites]


Access is a handicap when it comes to finance investigative journalism. You need someone to explain the mechanics and jargon, but beyond that its a hinderence.

Although there are lots of academics with an agenda as well. Keep that in mind.

Some of the highest profile finance journalists around I regularly see manipultated. Half the time I can even guess who their sources are. I'm pretty sure Jim Chanos has Bethany McLean on his speed dial. Bill Ackman has a PR firm.

But to me the real problem with business journalism - or especially finance journalism - is that in the long-term its much more lucrative to play along - and the sort of people who have a natural inclination to muckrake w/o regard to monetary gain are also those easiest to paint as "Anti-business"

Its for that reason I find most of the better analysis of what is actually going on out there is being done by bloggers who work/ed in the biz - many of them anonymous.
posted by JPD at 7:15 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


let me clarify this : i totally agree with you but you understand that the COO of CNBC won't go on TDS because it could indeed implicate him.

i think that we're going to see more Judith Miller kind of prosecutions with financial news media people, including maybe network executives. sure, what's his name the owner of The New York Times and their senior editors got scott free because newspaper reporting is way less committee like --Miller was kind of her own boss within the pool of NYT reporters. it's different though for TV news and commentary shows.
posted by liza at 7:16 AM on March 13, 2009


But, especially as seen in the Crossfire appearance, he wants to have it both ways. He wants to be seen as a tough journalist, and tell others how to do their jobs, but then hides behind the "hey, it's just a comedy show!" when criticized.

But that's Stewart's whole point -- it is a comedy show about the media itself and about the sorry state it is in. It is a comedy show about the fact that a comedian is proving to be a better journalist than actual journalists.

Basically, it sounds like Stewart's whole argument to Cramer boils down to "the financial media could have easily done its job much, much better, and because they didn't, people got hurt." His appearance on Crossfire boiled down to "you are creating entertainment and passing it off as journalism, and because you are doing that, our country is in a highly divisive state." No matter what the subject of the media that Stewart pokes fun at, it always comes back to "how is the real media covering this", and that is the real focus of his satire -- the fact that the real journalists are doing such a piss-poor job of it that they are being out-reported by a comedy show.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:17 AM on March 13, 2009 [20 favorites]


He's not doing simple comedy--he's doing satire.

I agree that Jon Stewart is primarily a satirist, but "I understand you want to make finance entertaining, but it's not a f*ckin game" isn't satire. Catching Cramer lying about manipulating the market isn't satire.

On a different note, anybody interested in understanding what's happening in the economy should check out the Planet Money podcast.
posted by diogenes at 7:23 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


How exactly does Stewart have no basis for criticism of journalism?

If you don't like the show, or Stewart himself, that's just fine - but journalism takes place in the public sphere - we all have basis to critique it, as it affects everybody. Are you saying Stewart's not qualified? Are you saying he has no right to criticize?

If you think the critique is off the mark, unfair, or just plain wrong, Ok, I'd like to hear more.
posted by device55 at 7:28 AM on March 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Attention all Canadians: Comedy Network has you covered. Apparently... I can't watch it here in the US.
posted by ALongDecember at 7:31 AM on March 13, 2009


Not that it took a PhD in economics to see that the levels of growth were ludicrously unsustainable.

Exactly - I predicted it myself about 5 years ago. So did anyone who was doing their own research, no matter how basic.

But there's a lot of people out there who don't do their own research, and they rely on these shows and newspapers who claim to be doing journalism but are really 24/7 infomercials. They're working crap jobs for crap pay and worrying about their kids' school grades or whatever - they rely on there being a reliable source of information about finance so they can make basic decisions. This blurring of the lines and sidelining of anyone who actually said "hey, those Wall St guys are doing stuff that cannot possibly work in the long term" leads to a misinformed public.

Guys like Cramer want to think they're experts, insiders. But really they're just chumps being led along by CEOs. Stewart is right to skewer them, and try to make them see that they're hurting real people, not just playing a numbers game.
posted by harriet vane at 7:37 AM on March 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


I've always despised Cramer and was aghast when my step-mom started reading his books and watching the show, but there is some element of personal responsibility we're not talking about enough here.

I loved watching Stewart eviscerate MSNBC this week, but no one put a gun to anyone's head to force them to watch that channel over the past decade. And Stewart's mention of his elderly mom losing money in the market was completely unfair - John Bogle among many others have quite clearly articulated the smart guidance that as you get older (and especially once you retire from your money-earning years) you should move an increasing portion of your assets into less volatile classes (Bogle's rule of thumb put is the same percentage of your holdings in bonds as your age). Sure bonds dropped some this year, but markets fluctuate, and any senior citizen with 50% or more of their assets in stocks made their own damn mistake, and for all their failings it's unfair to place that solely at the doorstep of Jim Cramer or Richard Fuld or anyone else.

MSNBC was an entertainment channel, filled with buffoons, and yes their cheerleading was pernicious. But I don't blame the cheerleaders for the ultimate score of the game, and too much focus on public shaming of them is a grand distraction from the more significant causes problems and their causes.
posted by twsf at 7:40 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't disagree - but I see what these financial networks have done is more than just run-of-the-mill TV buffoonery. These networks seem to have actively and willfully participated in market manipulation for the better part of a decade - the result of which has been pretty catastrophic. (We all suffer for this, even if we did make responsible personal choices)

I agree that people are ultimately responsible for themselves - but jerks like Cramer created an environment of hysteria that was hard to ignore.

It's sort of like when a con-man sells someone the Brooklyn Bridge - yeah the mark should have known better, but they're still a victim and the con is still a crime.
posted by device55 at 7:45 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are you saying Stewart's not qualified? Are you saying he has no right to criticize?

What Jon Stewart is doing is not journalism, it's punditry, albeit funny punditry. To even argue that he is a satirist in the vein of Swift, Twain and Vonnegut is probably the weakest possible argument for the veracity of his criticism, as he's not satirizing journalists, he is satirizing the talking heads on basic cable news channels. These people may play at being journalists but are most certainly not the real thing. In other words, he's shooting fish in a barrel for our amusement. That's not insight, that's populism.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:47 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think you mean CNBC, twsf.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:48 AM on March 13, 2009


I thought Cramer could have been a little more upfront about the fact that news is, unfortunately, mostly entertainment these days, even financial news, and he's just a clown and a shill.

I mostly agree with what you were saying, but I think in that sentence particularly you're missing out on the fact that Cramer doesn't think he's a clown and shill. Yes, he should be more up front about the news being entertainment, or at least about ratings, but to come out and say 'hey I'm worthless' in an interview that is already attacking him for lack of foresight and professionalism would be... well, close to career suicide (not that their financial coverage doesn't seem like it already).

The fact that there is about an hour of (cable) television a day which actually manages to investigate the total lack of professionalism and journalistic integrity in the media, or moreto the point, that there's only an hour, is deeply saddening. I'd have thought that some of the things that have happened in the last five years say, and the obvious lack of success in the right wing fear centric political manouevering and such might have had more effect on the way the media works. But then, Fox had two or three days (remember whatsisface, the slightly saner face of Fox news on TDS just after the election) of saying things would change... And they did - Bill O'Reilly got even more upset about the horrific liberal bias of the media (hah) and Shaun Hannity showed us that Alan Combes had enough soul to make it look like Hannity might have had one!

I don't know. Maybe I'm insane, but to me, the disconnect between the way the world is, and the way most everyone on (especially) US media portrays it...Well, I don't see why the people haven't risen up to smite the vulgar, lying fuckers!
posted by opsin at 7:49 AM on March 13, 2009


It's 2009.

Our regulators don't regulate.

Our journalists parrot the press releases they're handed and don't ask questions.

Our comedians end up being the ones doing what should have been done by the regulators and the journalists.

And it's only March.
posted by tommasz at 7:52 AM on March 13, 2009 [7 favorites]


he's a b-list comedian doing a cutesy comedy news show for 13 year olds

You cannot be serious.
posted by Optamystic at 7:55 AM on March 13, 2009 [11 favorites]


So real! I bet the Obama people watched this. Stewart is an old wise man in a young man's body. CNBC is looking like a joke.
posted by Flex1970 at 7:56 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


he's not satirizing journalists, he is satirizing the talking heads on basic cable news channels. These people may play at being journalists but are most certainly not the real thing. In other words, he's shooting fish in a barrel for our amusement. That's not insight, that's populism.

You say this like satire is parody. Satire doesn't preclude insight (not that parody need do either). And seeing as most of the world seems to be missing the fact that these people aren't journalists, we need someone to point the fact out at every possible juncture, in hope of change. In hope of bolstering the number of intelligent, thoughtful, actual journalists!

And I think if we hadn't had this interview, and the ones with Mike Huckabee on the issue of gay marriage, and the interview with John Sununu taking him thoroughly to task on the economic issues (as a republican) then it would be easier to say that Stewart isn't showing true insight and asking for more responsibility from various people than journalists have been doing in mostof the mainstream media.
posted by opsin at 7:56 AM on March 13, 2009


I find Jon Stewart grating and tiresome lately. Especially yesterday.

I found myself sympathizing with Cramer, and that's no mean feat.

Anybody who looks to Mad Money for sound financial advice deserves anything coming to them. Anybody who looks to Jon Stewart for social justice deserves the same.
posted by mazola at 7:57 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]



People with former retirement accounts and jobs probably care a little bit that the financial advice they were being given was actually "for entertainment purposes only".
posted by DU at 10:14 AM on March 13


I'm being put in the very odd position of having to defend a guy who I myself have criticized. It is simply impossible to construe what Cramer says as financial advice, namely because there is a disclaimer read before every commercial break on his show and at the bottom of everything he writes that opinions he expresses are his own and not financial advice.

Then, he has made in clear on his show hundreds of times that the money you spend picking stocks, i.e. the 'mad money', is no more than 10% of your portfolio, and that you trade with no less than $10,000. In other words, he has stated over and over that his show is for people who have $100,000 of investment money, $10,000 of which is going to be used in a risky portfolio.

People's who's 401(k)s have declined by half didn't have their money with Cramer. They had it with sober institutions and most likely index funds that had nothing to do with Cramer or CNBC.

Everyone is looking for a scapegoat to blame for their portfolio declining. Too bad, there isn't one. The shit hit the fan in August. You could have moved your 401(k) into cash. You could have moved it into bonds. Cramer has said since August of 2007 that financial firms were 'toxic' (not the assets they held, the actual banks) and to avoid them. He banged his fist on the table outraged that the Fed ahd no idea how bad a shape the banks were in.

Had you listened to Cramer and never made a single decision based on anything he said, you would have known that something was very wrong in the system as far back as 18 months ago. And unlike many of metafilter's favorite prognosticators of doom, he wasn't wrong for ten years before he was right. He called the top, give or take a few months.

After August 2007, he was picking from the momentum sectors, oil, potash, a few tech, ag, etc.

If you didn't watch Cramer or CNBC. You didn't hear any of this. You also didn't hear the silliness either, so what's your complaint? That people on a network you don't watch are saying things you don't like? You don't like that other people watch it? What exactly is the complaint?

Did you watch Bloomberg instead? Read Barron's or the FT? The Federal Reserve of St. Louis puts out a journal analyzing the excruciating details of the money supply and the golbal economy for free. Do you subscribe? No? Then what is your complaint? You want spot-on accurate, profitable financial advice but you want to pay as little as possible for it? That doesn't exist. You want financial news that isn't self-interested? How would that even work? "We're going to forego making money so you can make money instead." What?

You want to ride the coattails of financial genius, Bershire Hathaway class B stock is $2700 a share.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:02 AM on March 13, 2009 [16 favorites]


What's the good of access if you already know what they will say?

Exactly, but I'd take it a step further, bullshit "access" to talking points is just as worthless as no access at all. This goes for CEO's and Presidential administrations. If all you are going to get are the talking points anyway, why bother? Why put the CEO (or White House spokesman or Vice President or...) on, just because you can call it an "exclusive?" You are going to get a copy of the press release regardless, the only reason to bring te CEO on is to have a bit of B roll to go with the story of the CEO parroting it.

If what you are going to get won't veer from the talking points why not actually ask tough questions, get barred, get the talking points anyway, and then wait for the CEO to come begging for someone to put them on tv once everyone is barred for doing their jobs? That process is called journalism I believe.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:05 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


any senior citizen with 50% or more of their assets in stocks made their own damn mistake, and for all their failings it's unfair to place that solely at the doorstep of Jim Cramer or Richard Fuld or anyone else.

I agree it is a shared responsibility, but most Americans have been told for decades put it in the market and don't worry about it. Let's be honest, most Americans are not smart enough to follow good financial advice. They don't spend the time to understand it and in many cases probably don't have the education to. They do whatever the guy/gal at X financial advice company has told them, which is put it in the market in most cases. It's ultimately their money and they should be responsible for it, but we have created a system that encourages this kind of behavior on a mass scale as evidenced by the recent loss of wealth in elderly Americans. I am not as quick to declare them idiots that got what was coming.
posted by dig_duggler at 8:05 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


You say this like satire is parody

Satire usually is the definition of a parody. Satire takes the illogical premises of a real-world and amplifies them until we reach a ridiculous conclusion, one that shines a spotlight on how illogical those premises were in the first place. Stewart, like Colbert, like the talking heads on The Onion's fake news channel, is playing a foil. If things weren't so dire, he'd have no one to ridicule and be back to writing frat boy humor (which is what he was doing before TDS).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:07 AM on March 13, 2009


real-world situation
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:08 AM on March 13, 2009


And what's with Jim Cramer's sleeves?

Rolled up sleeves=Dynamic, hard-working image.

Fuck Cramer; if it's not obvious he's a huge freaking charlatan after about 4 minutes of watching his shitty show, you need your head checked.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:12 AM on March 13, 2009


Blazecock Pileon:...he's not satirizing journalists, he is satirizing the talking heads on basic cable news channels. These people may play at being journalists but are most certainly not the real thing.

Well, somebody better tell them that, because they certainly sell themselves as being the be-all, end-all source of financial news and insight ... as experts in the field. I don't see any "for entertainment purposes only" on their web site or TV shows. I see taglines like "Where Business Turns First", "America's Business Channel", "First in Business Worldwide", and "Fast, Accurate, Actionable, Unbiased". The fact that they aren't actually journalists is what Stewart is pointing out, in addition to all the other things (such as Cramer and crew not being especially unbiased).

You may know they aren't actually journalists, but when they sell themselves as such, a lot of people are going to believe them and trust them to be journalists and to tell the truth in an as unbiased way as they claim to do. If I walked around dressed like a cop and pretend to be a cop, so long as my lie is not found out and I behave as people expect a cop to behave and seem to know things cops would know, people would believe I was a cop. Doesn't make it true, but it does make it a con that needs to be uncovered.

And the only reason Cramer was the one sitting in the hot-seat is because he was the one who went public with his feelings about CNBC getting blasted on The Daily Show. Had he just said nothing, blown it off as a stupid comedian making noise (as he did on all those other talk shows, only less publicly), he wouldn't have gotten personally skewered. It probably would have blown over immediately, as most things on The Daily Show do. He painted the bullseye on himself, so he got the skewering he was asking for.
posted by Orb at 8:23 AM on March 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


norabarnacl3 : Why does Stewart have such a whiny hard-on about journalistic integrity? First, he has no basis for it, he's a b-list comedian doing a cutesy comedy news show for 13 year olds. All the 'journalists' he's attacking are similar entertainers trying to get ratings.

Because in spite of their lack of journalistic integrity, the public listens to these "journalists" and bases their opinions around what they say. The public believes that what is being reported is checked facts, because that is what the media is supposed to do. They take it on faith that when a news program tells them something, that research has been done to ensure that what is being reported is as close to the "truth" as possible. Lately it's become more and more apparent to an increasingly large number of people that there is not due diligence going on; that the news outlets are nothing more than mouthpieces for whoever will pay them. And it makes people angry.

Who gives a fuck about any of it?

Well, in my opinion, not nearly enough people.

Ritchie : and we'd never have seen that wonderful moment where he denies being a short-seller only to be proved a liar seconds later.

Yeah, that was pretty brutal. And I've been saying this for a while; I'd really like it if more shows used a format like this. Where they dig through their archives and show clips which prove people wrong. It's crazy that public figures can still regularly get away with saying "I never suggested anything like that" when video footage exists which flatly refutes them. Only the Daily Show seems to really make use of this really powerful tool.
posted by quin at 8:25 AM on March 13, 2009 [7 favorites]


It is simply impossible to construe what Cramer says as financial advice, namely because there is a disclaimer read before every commercial break on his show and at the bottom of everything he writes that opinions he expresses are his own and not financial advice.

If that's the case, then why do the promos CNBC runs for Cramer -- one of which Stewart showed in his set -- present Cramer as an expert? "In Cramer We Trust" went one tag line - if the show really isn't "financial advice," then why is the network encouraging people to trust him?

That is Stewart's point. The "this is not advice" disclaimer is so mealy-mouthed that it may as well have been on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:26 AM on March 13, 2009 [7 favorites]


Cramer is the most obvious target, but financial journalism as a whole did a poor job of reporting on the sneaky, destructive tactics that drive (or, hopefully, drove) so much market behavior over the last 10+ years. I agree with Stewart that it goes beyond the sin of omission to actual conspiracy with the shit-bag traders and fund managers that helped put us in this swell economic position.
posted by Mister_A at 8:28 AM on March 13, 2009


Pastabagel: "I'm being put in the very odd position of having to defend a guy who I myself have criticized. It is simply impossible to construe what Cramer says as financial advice, namely because there is a disclaimer read before every commercial break on his show and at the bottom of everything he writes that opinions he expresses are his own and not financial advice.

Then, he has made in clear on his show hundreds of times that the money you spend picking stocks, i.e. the 'mad money', is no more than 10% of your portfolio, and that you trade with no less than $10,000. In other words, he has stated over and over that his show is for people who have $100,000 of investment money, $10,000 of which is going to be used in a risky portfolio.
"

That's true, I'd forgotten the fact that Cramer did that. It certainly puts a slightly better light on him.

But as Stewart pointed out, the issue isn't really about Cramer alone. It's about the tone and motivations of CNBC as a whole, how they failed to do any investigative reporting of their own and instead echoed the talking points of CEOs and portrayed the market through rose-tinted glasses, even while they knew shady and dangerous deals were going on.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:32 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pastabagel, that was a compelling defense of Cramer. Much better than his own defense. The problem I have with Cramer and his ilk is that stock picking and market timing don't work. Nobody does better than random over the long term. People like Cramer perpetuate the idea that this isn't true. It would be fine if all of his followers really were people with $10,000 to burn on gambling money, but that isn't the case. People lose money that they can't afford to lose when they buy in to his mentality. In addition, that mentality seeps into people's investment decisions even if they don't watch his particular show.
posted by diogenes at 8:33 AM on March 13, 2009


Favorite Quote, from Part 3: "You dont just take their word at face value... you actually go around and try to figure it out." -Jon Stewart
posted by JoeXIII007 at 8:33 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


These people may play at being journalists but are most certainly not the real thing. In other words, he's shooting fish in a barrel for our amusement. That's not insight, that's populism.

It's great that you know these people aren't "really" journalists but the general public is still looking to them for information. So I wouldn't call it "shooting fish in a barrel" I'd call it "pointing out that the emperor is naked". And while that's not exactly insight either, it is at least useful and arguably brave.
posted by DU at 8:39 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Much better than his own defense. The problem I have with Cramer and his ilk is that stock picking and market timing don't work. Nobody does better than random over the long term.

Of course, the thing is if you don't count this past year people who had invested "at random" would have done pretty well, the average random investor would have done as well as someone who had invested in an index fund. But the collapse at the end of last year (and continuing) was so bad that it knocked prices back to 1990s levels.

It also seems like Stewart was bashing Cramer for selling the idea that stocks are a long-term safe investment, but that he knew they weren't. But I doubt that Cramer had any idea the systemic risks poised by credit default swaps and the like, it seems like hardly anyone on wall street did.
posted by delmoi at 8:50 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


CNBC has a decidedly different, quieter take on last night's show.
No mentions of "smackdown" or "beating."
posted by chococat at 8:51 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I agree that Jon Stewart is primarily a satirist, but "I understand you want to make finance entertaining, but it's not a f*ckin game" isn't satire. Catching Cramer lying about manipulating the market isn't satire.
That the only journalists and news shows willing to practice "journalism" air on Comedy Central, that's satire, right? Right?
posted by polyhedron at 8:58 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really don't think that's their job: their job is letting you know what people are saying, so you can draw your own conclusions.

This is precisely the opposite of what reporters should do. Reporters should find out what people are saying, and then tell us whether what they are saying is based in fact. Only then can we draw our own conclusions.

The shit hit the fan in August. You could have moved your 401(k) into cash. You could have moved it into bonds.

Jim Cramer, August 2008:

"I am indeed sticking my neck out right here, right now, declaring emphatically that I believe the market will not revisit the panicked lows it hit on July 15. and I think anyone out there who’s waiting for that low to be breached is in for a big disappointment and [they’re] missing a great deal of upside. Stop waiting, [and] buy the next dip because I think it might be the last big one." [link]

If you didn't watch Cramer or CNBC. You didn't hear any of this. You also didn't hear the silliness either, so what's your complaint?

That the actions of people who do watch them and make decisions based on (a) what they say and/or (b) a desire to please them and get favorable coverage can, and did, directly impact the rest of us.
posted by schoolgirl report at 8:59 AM on March 13, 2009 [14 favorites]


I am not as quick to declare them idiots that got what was coming.

This. The mark of a bunko operation is that its victims are made to feel foolish and greedy - this is to make them too embarrassed to seek help, or to convince anyone in a position to help them seek justice that they "had it coming."

It's still a con, a swindle perpetrated by some very slick operators - and they do not deserve to be let off the hook.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:02 AM on March 13, 2009 [8 favorites]


from chocolat's article:

In the end, the two agreed the financial press corps should refocus on asking hard questions of top executives.

"Maybe we can ... start getting back to fundamentals on the reporting, and I can go back to making fart noises and funny faces," Stewart said.

"I think we can make a deal right here," Cramer said, and the two shook hands.


Awwwwwwwww hoooooow sweeeeeeeet.
I like how the article failed to mention that Stewart masterfully drilled Cramer a new asshole to hopefully remove some of the excess pressure.

....'and they skipped merrily off after a friendly conversation, holding hands and giggling'

"tee hee!" / facepalm.
posted by 5imian at 9:04 AM on March 13, 2009


...directly impact the rest of us.

Yeah, exactly. I'm really disappointed to see the Pigeon in here saying "screw those guys, I'm doing OK". I never watched CNBC a day of my life and I have $0.00 invested in the stock market. So I'm the canonical not-listening-to-Cramer smart guy, right? I should be on top of the world, according to Pigeon. And yet I still don't get single-payer healthcare due to the bailout of everyone who did listen.
posted by DU at 9:05 AM on March 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


screw those guys, I'm doing OK

I never said any of that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:08 AM on March 13, 2009


The whole thing had the vibe of a 80s sitcom 'Very Special Episode'.
posted by mazola at 9:12 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I never said any of that.

Whoops, no, you didn't. I somehow saw your name at the bottom of a post like that. My bad. Disappointment withdrawn.
posted by DU at 9:13 AM on March 13, 2009


I watched it and felt some serious sympathy for Cramer. Putting aside what he has done, or not, that was a pretty brutal beating. And he took it, and with some apparent humility. When I've seen other pieces with him outside of his show, he seems quiet, kinda uncomfortable and shy.

Who is Cramer? Why does he volunteer to be skewered? I don't think he had any delusions of "winning"; he barely even tried. He looks like a man who [i]honestly[/i] hates himself. Is he looking to kick himself out of the business? I wonder what the long term outcome of this is.
posted by Bovine Love at 9:16 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Regarding international availability of comedycentral.com clips: kolophon suggested in a previous TDS/TCR thread (the other CNBC got COLD BUSTED one I think) that the clips are available wherever a version of Comedy Central airs. Given that people report access from US, Germany, Netherlands regularly, this seems to hold water.

Also, "ye Continentals and Oceania types" is a hilarious expression, thanks.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:18 AM on March 13, 2009


Has anyone come in yet saying they don't watch TV and how it's a low brow medium? I love those exchanges.

I just wanted to pop in and say how much I greatly admire TDS's tape and research department.

Also, I wonder when Cramer is going to be on Dancing with the Stars.
posted by spec80 at 9:20 AM on March 13, 2009


I keep hearing about how the news media need "access" and I keep not seeing it. First of all, forget the CEOs. As already demonstrated above, the "officials" not only will lie, they have to lie. What's the good of access if you already know what they will say?

Kind of an aside, but I wanted to expand on this. The "access" in question is, for the most part, a tool of professional advancement. It's roughly akin to a credential or laurel, a boldface line on the resume, a gold star on the performance evaluation. What I mean is it has little to do with obtaining good information and lots to do with staying on an upwardly mobile career track.

This is one of those things that corporations-control-the-media conspiracy theorists almost always miss. (Chomsky and Herman nearly nailed it in Manufacturing Consent, but to my mind they confused the aspirational careerist motives of the average TV talking head with the direct endorsement of a set of mutual interests; i.e. it isn't that TV reporters actually share the interests of the CEOs and power brokers they cover and collude to protect those interests but that they aspire to achieving that level of power and wealth; the outcome's the same but it's not quite the exact same thing.)

Point being the news media "conspiracy," such as it is, is at least as much structural as ideological. You want to be an anchor or White House correspondent one day? Then land the biggest names for interviews, even if those interviews are exercises in vacuity. Make nice with PR reps, rock no boats, get on the speed-dial list of a senator or three. Your superiors, who either got where they are by the same tools or are deeply invested in the health and wealth of the status quo, will reward you for it.

No one really cares that the information is spun so far away from truth it might as well be an infomercial. They care - all of them - about deepening the mood of solemn authority (or, in Cramer's case, frenetic mad-genius fame) around themselves. It's much more important to look and act important than to actually report meaningful news. And the best way to do that is to appear on TV as often as possible in the company of important people. Ergo the sanctity of access.
posted by gompa at 9:24 AM on March 13, 2009 [38 favorites]


It's much more important to look and act important than to actually report meaningful news.

Which, btw, explains why the cardinal sin of bloggers isn't that they are wrong (because they aren't) but that they are wearing pajamas. And sometimes they post pictures of kittens!
posted by DU at 9:30 AM on March 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Satire usually is the definition of a parody.

satire noun 1 a literary composition, originally in verse, which holds up follies and vices for
criticism, ridicule and scorn.

parody noun (parodies) 1 a comic or satirical imitation of a work, or the style, of a particular writer, composer, etc.



Colbert is imitating the right wing pundits. He's using parody. Parody is satirical. But satire is not parody.
posted by opsin at 9:35 AM on March 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Who goes on TV wearing a tie, but with their shirt sleeves rolled up like that? WHO DOES THAT? Are you going to be sticking your forearms into paint or oil or something? Is the room too hot for you? WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM, SIR?

And I've been saying this for a while; I'd really like it if more shows used a format like this. Where they dig through their archives and show clips which prove people wrong. It's crazy that public figures can still regularly get away with saying "I never suggested anything like that" when video footage exists which flatly refutes them. Only the Daily Show seems to really make use of this really powerful tool.

Oh, I totally agree with this. It's one of the things I like the best about TDS, is that when they are refuting someone they do so by showing actual footage rather than just making shit up. Of course, there are plenty of cases when this could be used for evil as it's pretty easy to take sound bites out of context, but I think TDS does a pretty good job of using it for good.

Not that I'm really an *objective* observer. I'll admit it, I've got a boner for Jon Stewart.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:35 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


No one really cares that the information is spun so far away from truth it might as well be an infomercial. They care - all of them - about deepening the mood of solemn authority (or, in Cramer's case, frenetic mad-genius fame) around themselves. It's much more important to look and act important than to actually report meaningful news. And the best way to do that is to appear on TV as often as possible in the company of important people. Ergo the sanctity of access.
Yes, that's exactly what's going on. The problem now is that it's all coming apart because they were so obviously wrong. First about the Iraq war and now about the financial mess and the stimulus, etc.
I really don't think that's their job: their job is letting you know what people are saying, so you can draw your own conclusions.
This is precisely the opposite of what reporters should do. Reporters should find out what people are saying, and then tell us whether what they are saying is based in fact. Only then can we draw our own conclusions.
If all I wanted to know was "what people are saying" I would read their blogs. Of course people like David Gregory will flat out say that they don't see their job as saying if people are lying, that it's up to the viewer to make that determination.
posted by delmoi at 9:36 AM on March 13, 2009


Which, btw, explains why the cardinal sin of bloggers isn't that they are wrong (because they aren't) but that they are wearing pajamas. And sometimes they post pictures of kittens!

Actually their "cardinal sin" is that they are outside the system. They owe no one, and they managed to get into the conversation faster then those at the top who sucked up their whole lives. That's what drove the "old media" bonkers about the blogs. Because the people who got through the gates could no longer be gatekeepers, in fact, the gates had been torn down.
posted by delmoi at 9:40 AM on March 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Stewart, like Colbert, like the talking heads on The Onion's fake news channel, is playing a foil. If things weren't so dire, he'd have no one to ridicule and be back to writing frat boy humor (which is what he was doing before TDS).

Also, I disagree with that last point too. I think the point is, he's grown up. You can see over the last ten years that he's gotten increasingly passionate about the issues he's dealing with. What we see on TDS regularly is someone who's frustrated with the media and the government, and is using satire to air those issues. I think he only occasionally plays a foil, and most often not when interviewing the people who he can get into real discussions with, when suddenly he comes out with some incredibly insightful stuff - like the Huckabee interview for instance.

When he can leave a serious presidential candidate with no rebuttal, 'cause he made a humanist point so effectively... That there's no foil!

He wouldn't go back to frat-boy humour, because there's always something in politics and the news to point at satirically, and because more importantly, he's matured.

My two cents...
posted by opsin at 9:41 AM on March 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


What gompa said, with one notable caveat: Some people really do make fine, even lucrative, careers out of investigative journalism (aka muckraking). See Mike Wallace, Don Barlett and Jim Steele, Sy Hersh, Ida Tarbell.

Sadly, many of those people eventually succumb to the blandishments of access and glamour (Bob Woodward, I'm looking at you) and start hanging out with their subjects.
posted by GrammarMoses at 9:42 AM on March 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


I should be on top of the world, according to Pigeon. And yet I still don't get single-payer healthcare due to the bailout of everyone who did listen.

You weren't getting single-payer healthcare anyway. It's a waste of time to carp about what we could have bought with the money used for bailouts because the money wasn't there to be spent.
posted by MikeMc at 9:43 AM on March 13, 2009


Parody is satirical

Satire defines parody. We're not saying different things.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:44 AM on March 13, 2009


Has anyone come in yet saying they don't watch TV and how it's a low brow medium? I love those exchanges.

norabarnacl3 & a couple of others came close, but they haven't panned out, at least not so far.

I'm trying to decide if I should bust that move myself, or ride it out and hope someone else does it for us.

Your thoughts?

...I mean, it's practically mandatory that someone does it.
posted by aramaic at 9:48 AM on March 13, 2009


Satire defines parody. We're not saying different things.

No, we were, and I guess are.
posted by opsin at 9:52 AM on March 13, 2009


This is probably the wrong place to ask, but I'm always puzzled when people talk about "making money" in the stock market. Cramer just made a self defensive blog post about how he's out there to protect the people who "make money" off the market, to help them game the market.

I know it isn't really a zero sum game, there's dividends involved. But the dividend payments are minuscule compared to stock prices. Right this second a share in Microsoft will cost you $16.29. For the past three quarters they've paid out $0.13/share in dividends. At that rate it'll take 31 years simply to break even on your initial stock purchase from dividend payments. That's a really awful ROI.

Which is why, of course, people who make money in the stock market don't do it off dividends, they do it off trading. If I buy a stock at $10, and sell at at $15, I've made $5, but not out of "the market" but out of the pocket of the guy who bought it for $5.

Isn't that close enough to a zero sum game to call it that? the only way I can see for people to make money off "the market" is if that money is taken out of the general economy and given to them (in exchange for stock) by other people. The only money the stock itself provides are the tiny little dividend payments.

Or am I missing something huge here? Because it really does look like a zero-ish sum game to me. Bob can't make (non-dinky dividend) money unless Joe (not the market, JOE) pays out of his pocket, right? So really making money in the stock market is about getting the better of other investors so they give you some of their money, yes?
posted by sotonohito at 9:53 AM on March 13, 2009


No, we were, and I guess are.

In any case, our agreement/disagreement aside, it doesn't change the nature of what Stewart is doing, which is not journalism. He puts on a facade to rile up a sycophantic crowd — and he even riffs on that, too. There's no element of risk to his parody of a news anchor, when he can always fall back on the gee-shucks-"I'm just a humble entertainer" song and dance and go back to interviewing movie stars for laughs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:01 AM on March 13, 2009


Sotonohito: That assumes that the companies themselves do not change in fundamental value. Stocks in buggy-whip manufacturers are not now lower because a zero sum transfer happened. The idea of the market (in a perfect world) is that it directs capital to where it can cause greatest growth in true value.

An example would be investors in SUN funding the development of the Solaris operating system. The increase in utility for many companies was rewarded by greater sales, and then the value stock reflected that. They can then issue more stock, allowing more people to share in the risk so they can make further improvements.

Put another way: there is genuinely more weath in the economy than 200 years ago.
posted by jaduncan at 10:04 AM on March 13, 2009


People's who's 401(k)s have declined by half didn't have their money with Cramer. They had it with sober institutions and most likely index funds that had nothing to do with Cramer or CNBC.

The 401k's that declined by half were being managed by people who do watch CNBC, the very people Cramer talked about manipulating through fomenting. If you can call that sober then maybe we all need a drink?

Incidentally, moronic index funds driving the market up, up, up! as opposed to reality is also to blame for much of our market woes.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:06 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]




"Anybody who looks to Mad Money for sound financial advice deserves anything coming to them. Anybody who looks to Jon Stewart for social justice deserves the same."

The point isn't just that whatever appears in the financial pages of our newspapers and on cable TV is nothing more than unadulterated public relations. It's these same bought-and-paid-for assholes go around the talk show circuit and blithely lay the whole mess at the feet of homeowners. Their job has been nothing more that to massage the narrative to favour monied interests.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:07 AM on March 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


I missing something huge here? Because it really does look like a zero-ish sum game to me. Bob can't make (non-dinky dividend) money unless Joe (not the market, JOE) pays out of his pocket, right? So really making money in the stock market is about getting the better of other investors so they give you some of their money, yes?


Sort of. A company is the present value of its long term cash flows. Those cashflows can either be distributed to shareholders as dividends or those cashflows can be reinvested in the business to grow it. At some level of earnings growth per dollar I reinvested I am indifferent in getting paid now or having the future possibility of getting paid even more. If you look at the long-term retuns on the stock market they can be disaggregated into dividends and capital appreciation (the price the market is willing pay today for the future earnings of the business)

It isn't a zero-sum game because overtime cashflows grow for the market as a whole. In theory they grow faster then inflation.
posted by JPD at 10:08 AM on March 13, 2009


Or am I missing something huge here?

One thing you are missing is that dividend payments aren't miniscule for a lot of companies. If you look at a typical tech company, sure, but that's because tech companies are supposed to make their share price increase through growth. But a lot of old school companies have much better dividend yields than that. Right now is a bit of an outlier given the state of the economy and a lot of companies are cutting the dividend to be safe; give it a couple years and you'll see it back to a more normal state.

Secondly, as I said a company's value can increase through growth. You aren't taking money from somebody else if you own stock in a company and that company increases its sales by a factor of two, making the stock more attractive and thus increasing its value.

There are a lot of problems with the stock market as currently implemented, but it isn't a fundamental problem with the idea of a stock market like you seem to be proposing.
posted by Justinian at 10:09 AM on March 13, 2009


Part of me wonders why Jon Stewart doesn't "go straight" and try to be a real reporter. But then I realize that that would ruin him. He's perfect right where he is.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:10 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also getting paid in 31 years isn't such a bad deal if it would take you 50 years to get paid back on a government bond.

(yes I know that is an insane oversimplification)
posted by JPD at 10:11 AM on March 13, 2009


There's no element of risk to his parody of a news anchor, when he can always fall back on the gee-shucks-"I'm just a humble entertainer" song and dance and go back to interviewing movie stars for laughs.

I don't buy this line of thinking. During the course of that interview, Stewart never fell back on a facade. That interview was done straight. It wasn't parody or satire. Sure, tomorrow he'll go back to gee-shucks mode (that's his job), but when he had somebody in front of him who could have defended himself, he only relied on his arguments. You make it sound like Cramer countered his arguments and Steward backed off and hid behind his facade. That didn't happen.
posted by diogenes at 10:27 AM on March 13, 2009 [11 favorites]


Why does Stewart have such a whiny hard-on about journalistic integrity? First, he has no basis for it, he's a b-list comedian doing a cutesy comedy news show for 13 year olds.

We've been over the demographics of viewers of TDS before in this previous thread. You are wrong.
"A 2004 Nielsen Media Research study commissioned by Comedy Central put the median age [of TDS viewers] at 35. During the 2004 U.S. presidential election, the show received more male viewers in the 18-34 year old age demographic than Nightline, Meet the Press, Hannity & Colmes and all of the evening news broadcasts."

May 2005: "'The Daily Show' on Comedy Central averages a nightly audience of about 1.3 million viewers in total, roughly two-thirds of whom are between 18 and 49."*
posted by ericb at 10:31 AM on March 13, 2009 [8 favorites]


Nine months cold calling at a small-time brokerage was enough to convince me that my money is best invested in a sports sock between my mattress and box spring. Like Stewart on many others had pointed out, there are two markets:

One - the portrayed - is stable, staid, long-term, watched over by old men and women in tweed, sitting in mahogany offices and gazing through their bifocals as they turn the pages of giant leather-bound ledgers, carefully ensuring that every penny is well invested in dusty old marble-solid institutions.

The other - the reality - is hopelessly dynamic, often driven by kids right out of college who got their Series 7 and are practically shaking with eagerness to earn, often talking about money in decidedly sexually aggressive terms ("I totally raped that guy" or "Oh yeah, he was ready to lay down for me"). I saw some of these kids burn client after client for the short-term gain. I saw them betray friends and even family members, engage in the exact same kind of market manipulation Cramer so glibly talked about in his earlier clips and, on one occasion, engage in extortion to get a client's money. Sometimes - and very rarely - you got some bright-eyed cub scout who was honest, forthright, and would never dream of bending the law. They never lasted very long.

There is something seriously wrong when due diligence takes a back seat. Many people talk about the economic collapse as if this were the work of a few powerful but dishonest individuals. Bullshit. The system itself encourages and even rewards breaking the law.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:34 AM on March 13, 2009 [18 favorites]


Does Stewart's evisceration of Cramer make up for the tender rimming he gave RFK jr when he came on TDS to peddle his thimerosal/autism bullshit?
posted by docgonzo at 10:36 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


You make it sound like Cramer countered his arguments and Steward backed off and hid behind his facade. That didn't happen.

Cramer was a patsy, and he knew it going into the show. He was there to put on as much of a so-sorry performance as fire-and-brimstone Stewart. If Stewart did that interview without a live studio audience I'd be more inclined to believe it was meant to be a serious attempt to review CNBC's shoddy financial "journalism".

As it stands, do you believe anything in the larger picture will change from this? Will CNBC adopt any measures to improve objectivity and culpability? We're still throwing money at CEOs who really should be brought in front of a judge, tried and convicted, and Madoff's friends in the Bush administration are still walking around free — but the NYTimes and CNN are instead focusing today on regurgitating this populist bread-and-circuses routine.

This whole charade is good for ratings and puts a spotlight on some of the cheerleaders on the sidelines, but it doesn't really inform people about the key people who got us into this mess.

I apologize for my pessimism, but I just don't see many good things coming out of this. I hope I'm wrong.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:39 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Tender rimming" just became my new favorite phrase. I will shamelessly steal it and claim it as my own.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:44 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cramer's defense plays the Rush card:

Now some would say, including Rush Limbaugh, I am on someone else's enemies list: that of the White House. Limbaugh says there are only a handful of us on it, and if I am on it for defending all of the shareholders out there, then I am in good company. Limbaugh -- whom I do not know personally, but having been in radio myself, know professionally as a genius of the medium -- says, "They're going to shut Cramer up pretty soon, too, but he'll go down with a fight."

Limbaugh's dead right. I am a fight-not-flight guy, so I was on my hackles when I heard White Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' answer to a question about my pointed criticism of the president on multiple venues, including the Today Show.
posted by delmoi at 10:48 AM on March 13, 2009


The thing that saddens me about this is that I really feel like Santelli should have been scapegoated, not Cramer.

When things go this badly, someone has to get scapegoated, and the easiest thing to do is to blame the public face - the person we know. Bear Stearns has no public face. I bet you most people hadn't really heard of it before it collapsed (or at least I hadn't), and it doesn't have a mascot, and its CEO is fairly anonymous - not a guy you'd recognize. Jim Cramer has a face I've seen because he's in the media, and he's implicated a little bit - so why don't I yell at him? The fact that he's the messenger, not the message, and that he played at worst a tiny role in the whole complicated kerfluffle doesn't really matter, because he's far handier than any of the actual people involved, who are more invisible and whose responsibility is far less concentrated.

Once you strip everything away, Cramer's sin was basically that he couldn't predict the future. Yes, he put himself in a position where he was paid to pretend that he could, but nobody - and I mean absolutely nobody - buys a stock and doesn't know that there's risk involved; and Cramer's discussion of stocks had very little to do with the actual worth of the stocks. Bear Stearns was going to collapse no matter what a basic cable talking head said.

But the reason why I think Santelli deserves a public pounding is that his whole rant was not about predicting the future, it was about dictating it. Cramer was saying: I think this will happen. Santelli was saying: this should happen. It's a world of difference.

Plus, I think we should consider that at the time Cramer made his bad calls, he had some reason to think they were good calls. But Santelli is operating with hindsight: he knows how bad the situation is - and he still thinks the whole screw-the-homeowners-thing is a good idea. And he's not just telling people about it, he's part of that group that was trying to organize all the tea-parties. There's a difference between cluelessness and selfishness; and while cluelessness about the future is embarassing, it is at least pardonable; but selfishness of the sort that Santelli is preaching is absolutely unacceptable in a time like this,.

Then when you see that - for all his bravado - Cramer does seem to be humbled a bit, and depressed about it, while Santelli is still a ranting, raving asshole - well, then you really get to the reason why I wish Stewart had been able to take Santelli to task. He really is the one who deserved it - but then again, that's exactly why he didn't go on TDS. Cramer did feel some need to be publically whipped - but there was no way Santelli was ever going to admit he was wrong, not about one tiny thing. Even though he was.
posted by Kiablokirk at 10:53 AM on March 13, 2009 [10 favorites]


Cramer was saying: I think this will happen. Santelli was saying: this should happen. It's a world of difference.

This, in a nutshell, is what drives me crazy about CNBC. I work on a trading desk, so I'm exposed to it far more than any thinking person should be. And while Cramer is thorougly irritating with his madcap persona, it's the endless pontificating of Kudlow, Haines et al that I find particularly noxious.

In theory, they are anchors or reporters, but in reality they are just arrogant blowhards, enchanted by the sound of their own voices, and empowered by a false sense of infallibility.
posted by malocchio at 11:09 AM on March 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


I apologize for my pessimism, but I just don't see many good things coming out of this. I hope I'm wrong.

I feel you. I don't think this was a watershed moment of change or anything. I'm just glad somebody with an audience said what he said. Even if he frequently engages in satire and might be posturing to some extent.

Will it make any difference in the grand scheme of things? Nope.
posted by diogenes at 11:10 AM on March 13, 2009


What gompa said, with one notable caveat: Some people really do make fine, even lucrative, careers out of investigative journalism (aka muckraking). See Mike Wallace, Don Barlett and Jim Steele, Sy Hersh, Ida Tarbell.

No offense, but these are all exceptions that prove the rule. Two of them work at utterly unique, long-standing media outlets with no direct analogue anywhere else, and which are nearly impossible to imagine being launched from scratch (Wallace at 60 Minutes, Hersh at The New Yorker). A third died in 1944 (Tarbell). And the remaining duo, legitimately awesome as their list of laurels is, have probably sold fewer total copies of all seven of their books lifetime than something like Tom Friedman's "plug-filled, free-trader leg-humping" The World Is Flat sells in a weak month.
posted by gompa at 11:13 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


As it stands, do you believe anything in the larger picture will change from this?

But it's not about that. You can be pessimistic about whether he's going to change anything, but it's as much about whether you appreciate what he's doing or not. I agree about the sycophantic audience (for god's sake, whooping is not laughter) but I think more often than not he winds up telling them to settle down because of that. I think he's doing what he wants to do, rather than trying to please that audience. It mostly comes over in your comments that you either don't like him, or you don't like the show.

Yes, he can 'go straight', but then he wouldn't be doing what he is (succesfully) doing, and as is he's on after puppets making prank phone calls, so it has to be satire. I still don't think he is parodying news anchors anyway, he's doing his own thing. A thing that is satirising the media and news.

No one's claiming Stewart is a journalist, only that he's doing their job 'cause they're not.

Most proper pieces of journalism aren't setting out to change things. Just to tell the truth, to give insight to events. And Jon Stewart is doing that much in cases like these.

That said, ideally, he can speak enough sense that things will change, but since CNN didn't change their tune after his attack on Crossfire, I can't see it being the case.
posted by opsin at 11:24 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: There's no element of risk to his parody of a news anchor, when he can always fall back on the gee-shucks-"I'm just a humble entertainer" song and dance and go back to interviewing movie stars for laughs.

There IS an element of risk to it. Stewart risks the reputation he's built on the show over ten years. The very reason he is so popular is that, on the whole, he's done a great job of both being funny and being insightful. He's not a shill, in a field where there are many shills.

On entertainer interviews, I've noticed that the Daily Show's "real" guests these days far outnumber movie stars and Comedy Central proles. You're much more likely to see an interesting book author who you've never heard of or an Important Person these days than shockingly-old-Tom-Seleck or a movie star.

You're forgetting, however, that we have a control here, an alternate Daily Show host from a reality in which Stewart never took over. Remember Craig Kilborn? Compared to the Kilborn days, the different is extreme. ALL of his guests were entertainment people. Remember Five Questions? "Har har har, we asked some witless movie star five random things! Aren't we edgy?" Kilborn would never have demolished Jim Cramer. Where is Creggers now?

On Cramer, I feel bad for him. It's true that it's easy to cheerlead when things are going well, and Cramer certainly did a lot of that. But the man knows he made mistakes, and unlike some of the folks TDS sometimes has on (like Bush administration lackey #713), he didn't really spin away from it. He took the blows. Tucker Carlson probably still doesn't know what his problem is, but I think Cramer does now. There is hope for him still.
posted by JHarris at 11:35 AM on March 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


I really think the Cramer/Santelli bashing is not warranted. Its OK, when people think differently than you do. And both of them provide a prospective that is not available otherwise to individual investors. If they were promoting their own interests as an investor then I would be outraged, but I don't believe that is what's happening. If anyone blindly listens to Cramer and makes an investment decision based solely on his opinion, well, you get what you deserve. Santelli provides pretty good insight as far as I can tell regarding the credit markets. I don't need to agree with his politics. On this topic he ought to STFU.

As far as market manipulation goes, welcome to Earth. Someone lied when they told you life was fair.
posted by sfts2 at 11:36 AM on March 13, 2009


That said, ideally, he can speak enough sense that things will change, but since CNN didn't change their tune after his attack on Crossfire, I can't see it being the case.

Actually, didn't that CNN producer say, basically, "I guess I agree with Jon Stewart" when asked why he decided to cancel Crossfire?
posted by JHarris at 11:40 AM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


As far as market manipulation goes, welcome to Earth. Someone lied when they told you life was fair.

So screw the law, right?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:41 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


As far as market manipulation goes, welcome to Earth. Someone lied when they told you life was fair.

The measure of your worth as a human being is, directly, the level of anger this fact rouses in you.
posted by JHarris at 11:42 AM on March 13, 2009 [13 favorites]


"It would be great if news programs were forced to self-identify as such, like wrestling calling itself 'sports entertainment'."

I believe what we are witnessing is a scripted heel-face turn. How permanent it will be I will leave up to you to guess.
posted by Eideteker at 11:46 AM on March 13, 2009


Here's a small-fry way to sell shoddy or even fraudulent products or services while skillfully dancing around already woefully under-enforced truth-in-advertising regulations. But if you want to go big-time, the preferred method these days, since anti-trust regulations have been effectively neutered too, is hands-down to spin off a media conglomerate as a subsidiary and then you can dress up your advertising and PR spin as reporting or daytime talk-show fare. That way, since the roll back of the FCC's fairness and accuracy in reporting regulations under Reagan, you won't have to worry at all about the already remote threat of liability for not being truthful to the public (plus it increases your vertical integration).

See, my hunch is that because most of us were raised at a time in which the collective memory of the considerably more active role the FCC formerly played in regulating broadcasters was still fresh, most of us still take it for granted that we can expect at least some level of protection from blatantly deceptive marketing. The business community knows this: It's a classic bait and switch. Really, prior to the shift in popular consensus Reagan helped set into motion in the 80's, the inherently high barriers to entry for broadcast formats and the reliance of broadcast media on the use of the finite resources of the public airwaves and other public infrastructure had always been uncontroversially assumed to make broadcast communications a special class of unprotected speech. Now all the networks scream "Free Speech! Free Speech!" at the first sign they might be held to account for inaccurate reporting or other demonstrable misrepresentations to the public.

I and many of the people I know from previous generations grew up taking for granted that robust truth in advertising regulations and enforcement mechanisms prevented, or at least impeded, the proliferation of fraudulent or misleading advertising. But nowadays, it's rare to see any advertisements after about 11:00 PM or so that don't seem to contain multiple, glaringly false claims. This has been especially true since it became the law of the land that non-FDA regulated "dietary supplements" aren't held to any regulatory standards or disclosure requirements whatsoever (like for example, those no-doubt mercury-laden pills that claim to make a man's penis increase in size overnight, while simultaneously curing his lack of interpersonal skills and other inadequacies).

Naive as it may be, many people living today still take the existence of at least a modicum of consumer protection from misleading advertising for granted. And flawed as the more rigorous standards of the past may have been even when they had teeth, the new political orthodoxy's methodical, totalizing drive toward pro-growth, business friendly approaches to every category of public policy has rendered all such consumer protections moot, and the result has been a predictable descent into the kinds of irresponsible, unscrupulous and dangerous behaviors that prompted the establishment of the regulations in the first place. The reason so much of our news is unreliable crap now is the same reason so much tainted food shows up on the grocery shelves: Because the "Movement Conservative" politicians we entrusted to lead and defend the welfare of the nation for the past two decades have all along really only had one sentiment at the core of their philosophy of governance:

"[The] ...goal is to cut government... to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." --Grover Norquist

And that's why, perhaps even as I write this, thousands of luckless middle-aged men working in cubicle farms all across our great nation are taking time out for an extra trip to the office men's room this afternoon, casting a hopeful glance down once more to see if those little blue capsules finally did the trick. Now picture one of those sad, sad men standing there, an abject look on his face, his flabby jowls flushed and sagging--a single tear rolling down his cheek.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:50 AM on March 13, 2009 [15 favorites]


My point is and was that Cramer's a fucking tool, an obvious idiot

Didn't that used to be called a Useful Idiot?

Anyway, I only get my "news" online or at Comedy Central because of this, this stupid "need" for "access" on the part of "journalists".

As to whether Jon Stewart is a journalist or entertainer, who cares?

"If you're going to tell people the truth, be funny or they'll kill you." - Billy Wilder
posted by lysdexic at 11:50 AM on March 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


On entertainer interviews, I've noticed that the Daily Show's "real" guests these days far outnumber movie stars and Comedy Central proles.

I dunno: it seems to me that there's still a fair number of fluff guests whose interviews become pally love-ins with the occasional lobbed softball. I like TDS and all, but the interview segment is often its weakest point because Stewart isn't actually a great interviewer; he too often lets "pleasing the guest" and "pleasing the audience" get in the way of conducting the interview.

(I am maybe expecting too much: how deep or challenging can you get in five minutes with an audience primed to laugh at cock jokes?)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:51 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


MStPT - I try to live in the world that exists, not the world I wish existed. Then I try to make the best of that, changing the things that I can. If you think that manipulating 'things' for personal gain is a uniquely 'stock market' thing, or a uniquely an 'American' thing or a uniquely 'modern' thing. I can just say that my experience teaches me otherwise.

JHarris - That is a quaint yet idiotic view. Things are as they are, I have no more desire to generate anger that some people are greedy and selfish than I do that earth rotates around the sun. People that are angry at this need to grow up. Now if its possible for one to generate some constructive personal energy to make yourself less greedy, or selfish, or judgmental, well, that would be a good thing.

The specific example that Cramer discussed on his TheStreet.com interview where he discusses 'fomenting' is not strictly illegal - its a question of degree and there is a huge continuum of degree. Its only his ego that makes him think he is as powerful as he alludes to. In most cases, for everyone fomenting on 1 side, there is 1.1 or .9 persons fomenting on the other, this case is particularly true for large cap, highly liquid stocks. Much more possibility of manipulation in the small cap, micro-cap markets - which EVERYONE knows about.
posted by sfts2 at 12:06 PM on March 13, 2009


Justinian wrote Secondly, as I said a company's value can increase through growth. You aren't taking money from somebody else if you own stock in a company and that company increases its sales by a factor of two, making the stock more attractive and thus increasing its value.

No, I get that part. A company that does better sees its stock price increase, at least in theory and leaving aside all the games people can play.

But I don't see how that translates into money for me unless I take that money from some other investor. I buy a share in XYZ at $5 and a year later XYZ has invented something amazing, their value as a company has increased dramatically, and that's reflected in a tripling of their stock price to $15. But, unless they pay out a dividend I don't get any money out of that, I've just got a stock certificate. I don't get any money until I sell the stock, and then the money I get comes out of whoever buys the stock, not the market, not XYZ, just the guy who bought the stock from me.

Yes, he thinks he's getting a good deal, XYZ is doing well, but it wasn't XYZ, or "the market" or anything else that gave me my $10 profit, it was the guy I sold the stock to. Which is why I say it looks like a zero sum (less dividends) game. the market doesn't make money other than dividends, right? Every cent that you get, aside from dividends, comes from other people playing in the stock market, right?
posted by sotonohito at 12:07 PM on March 13, 2009


I try to live in the world that exists, not the world I wish existed. Then I try to make the best of that, changing the things that I can. If you think that manipulating 'things' for personal gain is a uniquely 'stock market' thing, or a uniquely an 'American' thing or a uniquely 'modern' thing.

Good thing I didn't say any of this. You, however, dismissed market manipulation with a "life is unfair" response. We have laws about market manipulation. They're there for a reason.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:13 PM on March 13, 2009


But then he does do the news.
ARRRGH! No. No. No.

Jon does not do "the news." He makes criticizes the news media, usually by making fun of them, either directly, by parody, or occasionally by showing them how it should be done.

Jon's mandate was never "here's our latest report on the Bush administration," but rather, "here's how screwed up media coverage of the Bush administration is. While the news networks just show you the latest talking points, if they had any balls they'd be showing this clip of Bush contradicting himself two months ago."

In this case, he's not doing investigative reporting on the financial crisis, he's merely criticizing a financial reporter. The fact that's he's dug up clips on this guy doesn't mean he's done any reporting on the issue, it just means he's siting his sources regarding how bad Cramer's reporting was.

Digging up a bunch of old Ebert columns to criticize his prose is not at all the same thing as watching movies and reviewing them.
posted by straight at 12:15 PM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can get where folks are coming from when they say that Stewart is "hiding" behind his comedian status, that it's a cheap dodge...

...but really, no, none of us fall into neat, single categories that we need to abide by for our whole lives. It is not dishonorable in any way to step out of one's role for a moment and show some versatility.

The "targets" that Stewart picks should bitch less about being picked on by a comedian and worry more about what they're doing to get themselves destroyed by a mere comedian.

I worked as a receptionist/office support guy for a Goldman Sachs office for a short time a couple years back. I was always really impressed by the academic training that their people had. And it always blew my mind that Jim Cramer was on the big screen television with his rubber chicken playing on one wall of the office all the time.

'course, I'm not a finance guy by any stretch, so it's totally disingenuous and even dishonorable for me to criticize, right?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:17 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


MStPT - Sure, you didn't say it, you alluded to it and its disingenuous of you to suggest otherwise. People have manipulated markets since time began. That's what a market is. I guarantee you Cramer didn't manipulate markets, he may have tried, he might have thought he was successful. He wasn't. We have laws about a lot of things, stopping at red light for example. You should still look both ways before crossing the street.

I'd also consider a personal favor if you didn't pontificate at me regarding market regulations. I have a pretty good handle on the market and the regulations that govern them. In fact, I put my own capital at risk every day in these markets. What do you do?
posted by sfts2 at 12:31 PM on March 13, 2009


Um: pretty much all of us with a 401k or IRA or whatever are "putting our own capital at risk every day in these markets".
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:39 PM on March 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


Earlier gompa: The "access" in question... has little to do with obtaining good information and lots to do with staying on an upwardly mobile career track... You want to be an anchor or White House correspondent one day? Then land the biggest names for interviews, even if those interviews are exercises in vacuity. Make nice with PR reps, rock no boats, get on the speed-dial list of a senator or three. Your superiors, who either got where they are by the same tools or are deeply invested in the health and wealth of the status quo, will reward you for it.

Stipulated. Individual journalists want access in order to fast-track their own personal careers, make more money, etc., because their bosses (who came up in the same way) are inclined to reward such things. Of course it's easier to climb -- in every profession -- if you don't disturb the status quo.

Two of them work at utterly unique, long-standing media outlets with no direct analogue anywhere else, and which are nearly impossible to imagine being launched from scratch (Wallace at 60 Minutes, Hersh at The New Yorker). A third died in 1944 (Tarbell).

No direct analogue/couldn't be started from scratch: Sorry, but that seems rather beside the point, since those places already exist. Don't you think The New Yorker would be thrilled to have a second (third, fourth) muckraker of Hersh's caliber? 60 Minutes is so desperate for a knowledgeable reporter who will ask tough questions that they pay CNN's Christiane Amanpour — star of a competing network — to do segments, even while she's also drawing a paycheck from her main gig. In other words, I do believe that if you build it, they will come. An individual journalist can succeed by breaking serious, important news, because that boosts readership and ad rates, and bosses tend to like that. Is it harder work than taking the "access" path? Absolutely, and that's why it happens far less often. And it's even harder now, with publications pinching pennies and then dying anyway.

And you can set aside olden-days folks like Ida Tarbell and I.F. Stone if you like. Consider the young Woodward and Bernstein. Or Geraldo Rivera in his early years. (For those who don't know, Rivera made his name with his Willowbrook exposes on local TV news. The fact that he has squandered what was once a fine reputation is his own fault, not that of the system or a dearth of media outlets.) The point is, the hard legwork is not being done by most reporters, myself included; if it were, it would attract plenty of attention and, as a result, be rewarded.

And the remaining duo, legitimately awesome as their list of laurels is, have probably sold fewer total copies of all seven of their books lifetime than something like Tom Friedman's "plug-filled, free-trader leg-humping" The World Is Flat sells in a weak month.

OK, if the word "lucrative" is a problem, and you're basing your objection on the fact that tedious Tom Friedman has sold more books than Barlett and Steele, I would say 1) yes, there will always be a bigger audience for unchallenging content, and 2) B&S don't spend nearly as much time on the teevee flogging their latest product. Note, however, that Hollywood studios are happy to pay for investigative stories too: Silkwood, A Civil Action, The Insider, and so on.
posted by GrammarMoses at 12:41 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


straight: Jon's mandate was ... "here's how screwed up media coverage of the..."

he's siting his sources regarding how bad Cramer's reporting was


The thing is that Stewart will likely claim that showing the failings of the media isn't his mandate either, despite his doing so. Well, if it is his mandate, then it's incumbent on him to make sure that his eviscerations are accurate and in context. As it is, it took him a year to apologize for the Cramer/Bear Sterns clip, and only when the Daily Show vs. CNBC fracas became heated.
posted by Gyan at 12:46 PM on March 13, 2009


MStPT - Sure, you didn't say it, you alluded to it and its disingenuous of you to suggest otherwise.

I'd love for you to show me how I "alluded" to it. Show me where I in any way indicated that "manipulating 'things' for personal gain is a uniquely 'stock market' thing, or a uniquely an 'American' thing or a uniquely 'modern' thing" I'm really curious, because what it reads like to me is a strawman.

We have laws about a lot of things, stopping at red light for example. You should still look both ways before crossing the street.

Aside the point. When your response to criminal activity is "tough, life's unfair", you're pretty much dismissing the spirit of the law, if not the law itself.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:49 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


We had a deal, Kyle - Ummmm, no not really - not how I define it. You may feel free to define it however you like. If it makes one feel good to scapegoat Cramer or Rick Santelli, or the executives at AIG or BofA, or homeowners, or investment bankers, or lawmakers - feel free to do so. In my opinion, it just shows ignorance and smallness. If you want to whine about the unfairness of life or market dynamics, do so - or stay out of the markets. Your choice.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, however, not all opinions are equal.
posted by sfts2 at 12:53 PM on March 13, 2009


MStPT - I am not dismissing it, and you know what you said and I know what you said and to take the tact you've take is disingenuous as I said before. We can argue about semantics all day. I never said 'Tough, life is unfair' either. I'm just saying that whining about human nature is not very productive. Some people break laws. Do you suggest we arrest people for saying things? Because that's what fomenting is all about. If you are going to have markets, which we do, and I am going to participate in them, then I am going to expend my energy on understanding and working in the world that I live in, according to my own moral framework, or I'll get out. I'm not going to whine about some people pushing the envelope especially when its a pretty gray area in my view. If you choose to, good luck with that.
posted by sfts2 at 1:00 PM on March 13, 2009


you know what you said and I know what you said and to take the tact you've take is disingenuous as I said before

So you're being purposefully full of shit then. Glad we cleared that up. Do not put words in my mouth, kay?

If you want to whine about the unfairness of life or market dynamics, do so - or stay out of the markets. Your choice.

See, that's the problem: we really don't have a choice. Sure, we could go up in the hills, build a cabin and trap squirrels, completely off the grid, but most of us are, for better and for worse, intricately connected to the markets. So when shit goes haywire for everyone due to the neglect, lack of ethics, or downright illegal activity of people who are supposed to know better, you'll pardon us if some of us "whine" about it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:02 PM on March 13, 2009 [10 favorites]


"People have manipulated markets since time began. That's what a market is."

People have manipulated markets since time began. But that's not what a market is.

See how I did that there? How I stated a specious inference as a self-evident fact, using the rhetorical trick of implying a necessary logical relationship between two essentially unrelated propositions in the way I juxtaposed the two statements, to make what would otherwise be a transparently fuzzy, unsupported conclusion seem reasonable?

Let's do some more thinking along your original lines:

1) People have raped and murdered women since time began. Women are rape and murder victims.

2) People have turned grapes into wine since time began. Grapes are wine.

3) People have violated traffic rules and regulations since driving cars began. Traffic is violating traffic rules and regulations.

4) People have used sloppy reasoning to defend bad behavior since time began. Sloppy reasoning is the defense of bad behavior.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:03 PM on March 13, 2009 [26 favorites]


sfts2 must be making a killing on the markets right now. congrats!
posted by saulgoodman at 1:05 PM on March 13, 2009


I never said 'Tough, life is unfair' either. I'm just saying that whining about human nature is not very productive.

And yet:

As far as market manipulation goes, welcome to Earth. Someone lied when they told you life was fair.
posted by sfts2 at 11:36 AM on March 13 [+] [!]


Your complaint seems to be that you don't like it when people complain about illegal and unethical activity. To which I'd say, welcome to the internet. Someone lied when they told you no one whines here.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:05 PM on March 13, 2009


Mad Money for sound financial advice deserves anything coming to them. Anybody who looks to Jon Stewart for social justice deserves the same.

And anybody who dresses like a dirty little whore deserves everything they get. AMIRITE?
posted by tkchrist at 1:07 PM on March 13, 2009



sfts2 must be making a killing on the markets right now. congrats!


He may not be killing the markets but he sure is choking the shit out of civility and logic.
posted by tkchrist at 1:09 PM on March 13, 2009 [8 favorites]


I didn't whine about you, in fact, I encouraged you to make your choice. You want to play semantic games, go for it. You are the one that put words in my mouth, even quoted them. I didn't do that.

And no, I'm not making a killing. I eke out a living, sometimes being smarter than others, and sometimes being much much stupider. But the last things that I'll do are mistake punditry for insight, expect people to treat me fairly without vigilance, complain about human nature or other things I can't change, or tilt at any other odd windmill. Lastly, please feel free to make yourself and your ilk feel better by scapegoating people and feeling oh, so superior about it. Its ignorant and small.
posted by sfts2 at 1:15 PM on March 13, 2009


And anybody who dresses like a dirty little whore deserves everything they get. AMIRITE?

Um, no. Anyone who looks to fools for advice may not be pleased with what they get (and yes Jon Stewart is also the fool, except in these 'Time-out-I'm-serious' episodes I guess).

I don't see how your analogy follows from that.
posted by mazola at 1:15 PM on March 13, 2009


As far as market manipulation goes, welcome to Earth. Someone lied when they told you life was fair.

Yeah, that's a stupid and offensive statement, I'm sorry. That it has the advantage of being sort of true makes it no less stupid in this context. Yes, people lie. In my personal relationships I have, in fact, learned this, and learned the appropriate wariness that life teaches. But when you lie publicly, in a position of public trust, it's a different order of magnitude, and that's why we have laws against it.

Corporations are allowed, by mutual consent, to profit in the public sphere, and to gain that privilege they are held to standards of accountability and honesty, so that you cannot go out and lie with impunity, publicly, for your personal gain. We have an important, significant industry in the United States informally called the Fourth Estate, the news media, and as I'm sure you know, their watchdog role in keeping these public powers, government and corporate, honest has been significant and fundamentally important in American history.

Since the 1970s, news divisions of corporations have become big for-profit enterprises, and because of that they have abandoned the role that we, the public, have rightly expected of them for over 200 years. This, in my view, is a huge, huge issue: politics and business have always been corrupt, and one of the very few levers the rest of us have had against their power has been our representatives in the media. That the news media are part of the game now is a BIG DEAL, and the passive, fatalistic (nihilistic, even) attitude expressed in the statement I quoted above is hugely offensive to me.

It's not my fault if someone lies to me or manipulates me to steal from me. It is the fault of the lying fucking liar who is lying. I may have been naive or uninformed, but when mortgage brokers are giving $300K home loans to people making $50K/year, and people like Cramer are saying, night after night, "the market will NEVER go down" when they know better, when they know what's up, they are responsible for their behavior and its effects, and should rightly be held accountable. Even if that accountability is only an honest public shaming, it's better than nothing. This passive, blame-the-victim aspect of American culture baffles and angers me.
posted by LooseFilter at 1:17 PM on March 13, 2009 [21 favorites]


Saulgoodman.

So, perhaps I made my own semantic mistake by saying 'thats what a market is'. I should have said, 'thats a major characteristic of markets since time began'. Perhaps you've never been lied to by a used car salesman, or had a butcher put his finger on the scale. Lucky you. That hasn't been my experience.
posted by sfts2 at 1:19 PM on March 13, 2009


In my opinion, it just shows ignorance and smallness.

Thank god someone finally said it! I'm so fucking tired of whiners and their petty concerns.

Christ, I've spent the last what, eighty-plus years being hounded by miserable joyless curs, and all because I exterminated a few hundred thousand filthy Armenians. Like none of you ever wanted to expunge an entire population? Really? Gimme a goddamn break.

How the fuck am I supposed to wipe out all life on Mauritius if I have to spend at least an hour a day dodging complaints about the last time I mobilized the Bulk Termination Teams? Like I've got nothing better to do? Like I am the only guy responsible here?

Timur never had to deal with this crap, I tell you what. That guy just saw something, he just sent out the troops and took it. Never had to waste his time executing mewling traitors whimpering about the murdered children, no sir.

If you can't run with the big dogs, get the hell back on the porch (note: we will be setting fire to the porch once I finish mutilating the other would-be big dogs).
posted by aramaic at 1:19 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


sfts2: JHarris - That is a quaint yet idiotic view. Things are as they are, I have no more desire to generate anger that some people are greedy and selfish than I do that earth rotates around the sun.

That is a slight and dismissive response. Things are as we allow them to be, I have no more desire to let some people's greedy and selfish motives ruin my limited time on earth than I do that it should fall unhindered into the sun.

<pedantic>And it revolves around the sun, or it orbits the sun. Rotation is not something the Earth does with respect to the sun.</pedantic>
posted by JHarris at 1:20 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


sfts2: feeling oh, so superior about it

Um again: from where I'm sitting, you're the one dismissing anyone who disagrees with you as "whining", "idiotic", "ignorant", "small".
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:22 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyone who looks to fools for advice may not be pleased with what they get

Sigh. Again, this is not about specific dumb-ass talking heads on one channel. This is about large scale collusion among many, many financial professionals, journalists, and so-called regulators who treated real people's money like it was a game, a game to make as much money, gain as much prestige and power, for themselves as possible. They are all complicit in this. It is not reasonable to expect that someone like me, who does not invest directly in the markets but whose retirement funds (CALPers) are heavily invested in those markets, is going to spend the time and energy to learn all about how all this shit works. I've gotten fucked over and I never watch CNBC or Cramer, but I'm fucked over because him and guys like him were all in on the game.
posted by LooseFilter at 1:22 PM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


You are the one that put words in my mouth, even quoted them. I didn't do that.

I did quote you, yes. Because you denied having taken a "life's tough" attitude about lawbreaking, that people should stop whining because life's unfair. So I took the time to show you where you said it. Sucks when that happens, doesn't it?

And it's also true you didn't do that with me - instead, you claimed I "alluded" to manipulation being uniquely market-related, uniquely American or uniquely modern without having the common decency of backing up your assertion with actual evidence. When I asked you to show me this, your reply was "you know what you said and I know what you said and to take the tact you've take is disingenuous". Which is, pardon my frankness, bullshit, and pretty poor trolling.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:26 PM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


You win.
posted by sfts2 at 1:31 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is not reasonable to expect that someone like me, who does not invest directly in the markets but whose retirement funds (CALPers) are heavily invested in those markets, is going to spend the time and energy to learn all about how all this shit works. I've gotten fucked over and I never watch CNBC or Cramer, but I'm fucked over because him and guys like him were all in on the game.


Loosefilter - why do you feel like you've been fuckes over by the Cramer's of the world if your retirement funds are managed by Calpers? Color me intrigued. In theory you are about the last person fucked over by all this.
posted by JPD at 1:38 PM on March 13, 2009


Oh FFS, dude, this isn't about "winning". It's just bad form to walk into a thread, countering arguments that no one actually made, dispensing strawmen, calling people "ignorant, petty, idiotic, small, whiners" and so forth.

Then again, maybe you had some time to kill and decided to have some fun in here. In which case, well played, you do the Dismissive Judgemental Troll caraciture sublimely.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:38 PM on March 13, 2009


This is a "conflict" in no sense of the word. Cramer is working for ratings, like Jon does, like Rush does, like any TV personality must. Just move along.
posted by chairface at 1:51 PM on March 13, 2009


In theory you are about the last person fucked over by all this.

True, for now, my retirement fund is solvent (though down quite a bit); the state of my employ (CA of course) is not, and getting worse, and this will have unavoidable fallout for everyone. My point is less personal than synecdochic: because of "the game" and collusion among professionals in finance, media, and government, the whole economy is collapsing, and people who were informed and responsible have lost and will lose money, just like uninformed investors have. And being only 36, I'm wary that my money won't be there when it's time for me to retire--what if Bush had succeeded in privatizing Social Security?
posted by LooseFilter at 1:54 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes. How dare we scapegoat people who actually are responsible for ruining peoples lives, fostering greed, and pandering to — and shilling for — wealthy con artists! How dare us! We are sooooo small.

Um, no. Anyone who looks to fools for advice may not be pleased with what they get (and yes Jon Stewart is also the fool, except in these 'Time-out-I'm-serious' episodes I guess).

Eeeeyeah.

So let me get this straight. A guy who is on TV who reports to broadcast legitimate advice, advise supposedly vetted by a large corporate media institution, on to an disadvantage ignorant public and it's THE PUBLIC'S fault if they get ripped off.

Okaaaay.

And how is that not blaming the victim?

As for your bizarre comment about getting "social justice" from Jon Stewart? Well that's just a straw man from the get go isn't it.
posted by tkchrist at 1:55 PM on March 13, 2009


Cramer is working for ratings, like Jon does, like Rush does, like any TV personality must. Just move along.

There once was a time when the news was not considered entertainment.
posted by LooseFilter at 1:55 PM on March 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is a "conflict" in no sense of the word. Cramer is working for ratings, like Jon does, like Rush does, like any TV personality must. Just move along.
posted by chairface at 1:51 PM on March 13


Your name wouldn't happen to be Geraldo, would it?
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:59 PM on March 13, 2009


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing : So I took the time to show you where you said it. Sucks when that happens, doesn't it?

And thus, we have parity. The events of the thread now mirror those of the episode itself, and all is in balance.
posted by quin at 1:59 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


what if Bush had succeeded in privatizing Social Security?

Funny how none of the mouth breather "The Market Cures All" dipshits bring up this little gem, ain't it.
posted by tkchrist at 2:00 PM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Okaaaay.

And how is that not blaming the victim?

As for your bizarre comment about getting "social justice" from Jon Stewart? Well that's just a straw man from the get go isn't it.


Alrighty then, I'll just chime in with "I thought the show was a bore, I'm glad you enjoyed it, it seems as though there was a certain cathartic release because of it" and slink out quietly.
posted by mazola at 2:12 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


What struck me, and I think Jim Cramer, was that video. Cramer was making a big error in being taped saying that stuff. The SEC's Enforcement Division will be taking a look at that tape. What Cramer described himself doing is real edge stuff, stuff that will get your ass in big trouble with the Commission.

It was only after that moment that Cramer really got crushed. When Cramer said he was speaking hypothetically and then Stewart played the rest of the clip, showing Cramer to be a total LIAR, the crowd got really, really quiet, like they knew something bad just came out. Cramer was totally shaken after that. He did almost cry.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:13 PM on March 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


That way, since the roll back of the FCC's fairness and accuracy in reporting regulations under Reagan, you won't have to worry at all about the already remote threat of liability for not being truthful to the public (plus it increases your vertical integration).

Well, to be precise, the Fairness Doctrine NEVER required broadcasters to be accurate. It required broadcasters to air issues of public controversy, and to provide for contrasting viewpoints on those issues. So, as a consequence, if the broadcaster deemed it too difficult to find someone with an opposite view to air on a given issue, they generally just avoided that issue. After the FD, reporting didn't change as much as it gave rise to (generally right-wing) opinion-based programming (particularly the talk radio phenomenon).

See, my hunch is that because most of us were raised at a time in which the collective memory of the considerably more active role the FCC formerly played in regulating broadcasters was still fresh, most of us still take it for granted that we can expect at least some level of protection from blatantly deceptive marketing. ...

I and many of the people I know from previous generations grew up taking for granted that robust truth in advertising regulations and enforcement mechanisms prevented, or at least impeded, the proliferation of fraudulent or misleading advertising. But nowadays, it's rare to see any advertisements after about 11:00 PM or so that don't seem to contain multiple, glaringly false claims.


You're confusing the FCC with the FTC. But both agencies work reactively: they rely on consumers to make complaints. So if you see examples of deceptive advertising/marketing, you can submit a complaint to the FTC. Unfortunately, their punishment powers are pretty weak.

But this is really a bit of a different issue from the decline in news standards, because, as LooseFilter points out:

Since the 1970s, news divisions of corporations have become big for-profit enterprises, and because of that they have abandoned the role that we, the public, have rightly expected of them for over 200 years.

"News" at least in broadcasting, changed when it stopped being something the networks and stations did to fulfill their public service commitments, and instead became a source for ratings and profits. News is very expensive to produce, and broadcasters didn't do very much of it until they figured out how to produce it so that it was profitable. This, broadly speaking, means less (none?) deep, complicated, investigative reporting and more talking heads, commentators, and fluff.

And to be fair, we (the public) bought it. Even though the public's perceptions of newscasters credibility has been in a steady decline, people still watch broadcast news. As long as they keep watching, the broadcasters have no incentive to do anything different.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 2:14 PM on March 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh man...they're talking about this TDS clip on All Things Considered *right now.* The media talking about the media talking about the media...
posted by DiscourseMarker at 2:24 PM on March 13, 2009


We have laws about a lot of things, stopping at red light for example. You should still look both ways before crossing the street.

And when you get hit because the driver ran a light, the driver doesn't get to say "life's unfair, suck it up."

And neither should 'the market'.
posted by Phire at 2:25 PM on March 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


It's kind of strange that MSNBC hasn't shown anything on the Stewart/Cramer showdown. They were talking about it all week, and now nothing. Also, the Maddow/McCain interview was informative -and funny too (economics are that family's Achilles heel). No Morning Joe story for that one either. And to think Joe Scarborough called Chuck Todd a coward for not siding on the Stewart/Cramer battle a few days ago.
posted by Flex1970 at 2:26 PM on March 13, 2009


Obviously I can't read through all bazillion of these comments, but I did a search for Martha and came up empty. I guess I'm the rare bird who watches both Martha Stewart and Jon Stewart. TDS didn't show the really revealing bits from the MS show, which was Cramer going on and on about his same beliefs that manipulating 401K holders and low level investors like you and me into feeling safe is the most important thing, then taking questions from the audience and giving answers all intended to make people feel safe and secure.

That told me two things, considering I'd already read the AP wire about TDS:
1. He's going to act contrite on TDS but on MS he proved he has no interest in changing, he thinks his most important duty is to convince the American people to keep investing so rich people can keep gambling on our futures.
2. It's not about the economy, stupid. It's about staying rich.

And 3. Cramer and Martha agreed that nationalizing banks would be HORRIBLE. You know, because how they're wealthy and everything? And don't really speak for us regular people? Yeah. Contrite or not it's all a lot of smoke and mirrors.

And let's not forget that that was on THE SAME DAY.
posted by birdie birdington at 2:39 PM on March 13, 2009 [9 favorites]


It's kind of strange that MSNBC hasn't shown anything on the Stewart/Cramer showdown.

MSNBC producers told ‘not to incorporate’ Cramer’s Daily Show interview into their programming.
“TVNewser reports that ‘MSNBC producers were asked not to incorporate the Jim Cramer/Jon Stewart interview into their shows today.’ By TVNewser’s count, Cramer’s Daily Show interview was only mentioned once on MSNBC today and that was during the White House press conference when a reporter asked for Obama’s reaction. TVNewser explains further:
Gibbs wasn’t sure if the president had, but Gibbs did. ‘I enjoyed it thoroughly,’ the Press Secretary said.

On Cramer’s network, CNBC, the subject has only come up twice today, including when master marketer/CNBC personality Donny Deutsch brought it up briefly around 1pm on ‘Power Lunch.’ ‘I’m a huge Jon Stewart fan,’ said Deutsch, ‘He does what he does he does his job. But I’m also a huge Jim Cramer fan.’ […]

Cramer appeared on his regular ‘Stop Trading’ segment during ‘Street Signs.’ But the Daily Show did not come up.”
posted by ericb at 2:42 PM on March 13, 2009 [7 favorites]


Oh man...they're talking about this TDS clip on All Things Considered *right now.*

I heard that. It was a little disconcerting. I've been reading this thread all day, so it felt like MetaFilter was coming out of the radio.
posted by diogenes at 2:44 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is not reasonable to expect that someone like me, who does not invest directly in the markets but whose retirement funds (CALPers) are heavily invested in those markets, is going to spend the time and energy to learn all about how all this shit works. I've gotten fucked over and I never watch CNBC or Cramer, but I'm fucked over because him and guys like him were all in on the game.

I'm not going after you personally or specifically, but maybe if people don't want to "learn how all this shit works," they should just keep their money out of the markets. There are risk-free* alternatives to Wall Street: traditional savings accounts, CDs, and government-backed bonds. Sure, they don't pay as well as equities or private bonds, but the market only pays better because it's higher-risk.

The whole idea that financially unsophisticated people — worse, people who have no desire to do much of any research at all — should have non-disposable money in the stock market is ridiculous. At the very least, the only way they should have money in the market is if it's through some sort of investment advisor who's professionally liable for managing their assets competently.

Maybe we need a Bar Association equivalent for financial advisors, along with state licensing and mandatory malpractice insurance? At least that way when people lose their shirts, they'll have someone to go after.

* "Risk-free" in the sense that only a total government collapse or default will cause loss of principal; I put this on par with zombie invasion and asteroid strikes as the sort of thing your investment portfolio probably shouldn't bet on.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:50 PM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Cramer's program is on CNBC right now, he's issuing a lot of caveats and very very low key.
posted by amuseDetachment at 3:19 PM on March 13, 2009


Fallows: Jon Stewart has become Edward R. Murrow
posted by homunculus at 3:23 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Greewald: There's nothing unique about Jim Cramer
posted by homunculus at 3:26 PM on March 13, 2009


Er, Greenwald that is.
posted by homunculus at 3:40 PM on March 13, 2009


Oh man...they're talking about this TDS clip on All Things Considered *right now.*

It ended up on Marketplace too:
Ryssdal: Before I let you go, guys, I want to get your take on the media war of the week: Jon Stewart from The Daily Show, Jim Cramer from CNBC. They've been going back and forth all week. Cramer went on Stewart's show last night. Guys, does this really mean anything? Or is it all just nothing?

Gallagher: Well, as somebody said, he might want a job at The Daily Show. I mean, I think people were surprised at how non-argumentative it was, to say the least. But, it's certainly made for some entertaining conversations around our morning meeting. I will say that for sure.

Ryssdal: Felix, you actually have been on CNBC. You've been a resident of the Deca-Box. What'd you think? And does it really matter? I mean, is this all just nothingness?

Salmon: CNBC is hurting America, and it's high time that people like Jon Stewart really took them to task. And this should be the end of CNBC as a useful, important media force. It won't be; they're going to continue going on and a bunch of people are going to watch it. But really, you get much more useful information from Marketplace, frankly.

Ryssdal: Aww, shucks. Felix Salmon from Portfolio.com. Leigh Gallagher, at Fortune Magazine. Thanks guys.
Reading this now, it seems like Salmon is being sarcastic, parroting Jon Stewart's words from the Crossfire episode, but when I heard the show, I didn't think so. Maybe he's just a very deadpan guy.
posted by gladly at 4:58 PM on March 13, 2009


I hope my dad sees this TDS segment.

Hes been eating the bullshit CNBC has been spewing for years, and has (of course) lost tons of money, but thanks to their careful spin factor is fairly convinced its all those "damned socialist liberals" and irresponsible homeowners...etc (yes its THAT simple)

Hes a smart man (no really. genius/borderline aspergers case.) , whose been made a complete tool by lying assholes. Its really sad.

I totally understood and related to Stewart's statement about his mothers 401k. Their lies are more than shitty financial advice... they ruin people.

I know this is (admittedly) a highly subjective comment but really
.....Fuck those guys.
Fuck them.
posted by 5imian at 5:30 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure I agree with Greenwald assessment that Cramer looked defeated after the second segment. (I think it was the Greenwald article; this thread is a marathon.) Sure, he was close to tears, but there wasn't the slightest hint of introspection or understanding. The guy was demonstrated not to inhabit the world of ideas and I think it didn't hurt him a bit to give Stewart what he thought Stewart wanted to hear.

The exchange in which he said he doesn't understand what his show is, but that he seems to have an audience said it all for me. He's successful. He's famous. But he's a schlemiel. He's a vessel for "market wisdom" that is part capitalism, part bullshit, and powerfully influenced by the interests of wall street. (Heh. Speaking as someone trained as an economist and received a lot of "market wisdom" that was a powerfully influenced by the interests of wall street.)
posted by ~ at 5:32 PM on March 13, 2009


"Greenwald's"
I blame the greater march ides season.
posted by ~ at 5:33 PM on March 13, 2009


Oh man...they're talking about this TDS clip on All Things Considered *right now.* The media talking about the media talking about the media...

An ourouboros of dicks and assholes.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:57 PM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Favorited for "ourouboros".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:21 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Favorited for favoriting.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:29 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cramer did say one thing that was honest:


CRAMER: No, we're not in bed with them. Come on. I don't think that's fair. Honestly. I think that we try to report the news and I think that people-

STEWART: A couple of guys do. This guy Faber.

CRAMER: He's fabulous, Faber.

STEWART: And maybe two other guys.

CRAMER: He's fabulous and he's done some things that have really blown the cover off a lot of stuff.



What follows is transcript from FRONTLINE's "Inside the Meltdown" episode that aired a few weeks ago. Faber has truly "blown the cover off a lot of stuff."

NARRATOR: Then on Monday, March 10, a rumor about Bear Stearns.

BRYAN BURROUGH, Vanity Fair: Pretty normal morning. And then suddenly, around 11:00 o'clock, there's a tremor. The stock starts to go down. The CFO of Bear starts calling down to his desks, to the repo guys, the bond guys, "Anybody hear anything? Anybody know anything? What is this?" "Yeah, the rumor is that we're running out of cash and that we might be in trouble."

NARRATOR: Bear's former chairman, Alan "Ace" Greenberg, had seen it happen before.

ALAN GREENBERG, Fmr. Chairman, Bear Stearns: Rumors are such that they just can plain put you out of business. People that you have been doing business with for years, all of a sudden, they just say, "No, we don't want to touch it."

NARRATOR: On the Street, they say rumors - even unfounded rumors - are a contagion that can kill a company in just a few days.

DAVID FABER, CNBC Anchor: -causing the stock the most activity. Bear Stearns suffering from, well, what you can do with any of these stocks these days, mainly start a rumor-

KATE KELLY, The Wall Street Journal: CNBC is ubiquitous on trading desks. It's ubiquitous on Wall Street. People watch it absolutely all day long. They tune into it- when there are flash lines up on the screen, they want to tune in immediately. So they have a profound impact on what's happening. (emphasis mine)

DAVID FABER: Those are the kinds of concerns in this market-

BILL BAMBER, Sr. Managing Dir., Bear Stearns: It was nothing short of surreal. You are watching on CNBC, et cetera- I mean, they are talking about where you work.

CNBC ANCHOR: The only bank in the red right now, basically, Bear Stearns, although it is dragging the rest of the financial markets down, as well-

NARRATOR: Bear's stock was in freefall. Once it traded as high as $171, now it hovered around $60.

JEFFREY LANE, CEO, Bear Stearns Asset Management: When people get nervous, they want the money out because you don't want to be the last person when there's a run on a bank. The stock started to go down. More and more people called up and said, "I want my money out or I won't trade with Bear Stearns." And it just completely unwound.

CNBC ANCHOR: And it happens because those that who do business with a firm such as that lose confidence. And when they lose confidence, they pull their lines, and that's it, it's done. Pack your bags.

NARRATOR: Inside Bear, they knew they needed to reassure the market. They turned to former chairman Ace Greenberg.

ALAN GREENBERG: Somebody came over to me and said, "You've got to make a statement. We're in trouble." I called the chief financial officer. I said, "Are we in trouble? He said, "No, everything's fine."

NARRATOR: They had nearly $18 billion dollars in cash reserves. Ace called CNBC.

ALAN GREENBERG: So I said, "It's ridiculous. Everything's fine." Which it was.

BRYAN BURROUGH, Vanity Fair: He says, "This is ridiculous," which then kind of, as they say, put pants on the problem because CNBC then starts running a crawler, you know, "Ace Greenberg calls rumors of imminent demise ridiculous," which is a little bit, you know, like screaming, "I'm really not beating my wife, honest."

CNBC ANCHOR: Very sharp rally on Wall Street, with the exception of Bear Stearns. It has been a roller-coaster.

NARRATOR: The rumors swirling around Bear were about its massive investments in subprime mortgages, what would become known as "toxic assets."

DAVID FABER, CNBC Anchor: They were big in mortgages. They were big in packaging them and creating securities out of them, buying them.

NARRATOR: The road to riches for Bear was simple: Buy hundreds of thousands of mortgages, then bundle them into securities and sell them to investors.

Rep. BARNEY FRANK (D-MA), Financial Services Cmmt. Chairman: Thirty years ago, if you got a mortgage, you went to the a bank and that bank frisked you pretty good before giving you the money because the bank expected you to pay the bank back. In 2005, a mortgage lender lends money to a lot of people and does not expect to be repaid by them, but bundles up the right to be repaid by them and sells it to a lot of other people.

NARRATOR: The bigger the housing market grew, the more Bear and other investment banks bought.

JOE NOCERA: Accelerating housing prices created a mentality among everybody involved in the mortgage industry, from the buyer of the house to the broker, the mortgage broker, to the bank, to Wall Street, that housing prices could only go up.

BRYAN BURROUGH: Everybody did this. You know, everybody made tons of money in '05, '06.

NARRATOR: By '07, the party was over.

GRETCHEN MORGENSON, The New York Times: People started to see that foreclosures were rising. Certainly, the home price appreciation that we had enjoyed for many years during the bubble was stopping.

JON HILSENRATH, The Wall Street Journal: They were stuck with these investments that were rapidly declining in value.

JEFFREY LANE, CEO, Bear Stearns Asset Management: It was a formula for disaster. It was a traditional game of "Hot potato, hot potato." And as it turned out, everybody ended up with a potato.

[www.pbs.org: Roots of the crisis]

NARRATOR: As the smallest investment bank on Wall Street, Bear Stearns looked vulnerable. Wednesday, two days into the crisis, they needed to do something to restore confidence.

BRYAN BURROUGH: If you're a Wall Street firm beset by rumors, the best you can do is bring out the CEO to say, "Well, this is really nothing serious." And by Wednesday morning, that's where Bear had come to.

DAVID FABER: I called over to their head of PR, talked to them about it, saying, you know, "Your stock just keeps getting hammered. I talked to a lot of people. I think they would want to hear from Alan."

NARRATOR: Alan Schwartz, Bear's CEO, decided to give Faber the interview.

DAVID FABER: Joining me now first on CNBC is Alan Schwartz. He is Bear Stearns president and CEO. Mr. Schwartz, thanks so much for being here this morning.

BILL BAMBER: Everything went quiet on the trading floor as we listened to the interview, everyone very focused on listening because this- we knew this would be the nexus point for how the rest of the week would play out.

DAVID FABER: So what I'm told by a hedge fund that I know well that last night, they tried to close out a mortgage, a credit protection-

NARRATOR: Faber's first question was a tough one. He raised the specter that one of Bear's most important trading partners, Goldman Sachs, might be deserting them.

DAVID FABER: You're saying you're not aware that that would be the case.

ALAN SCHWARTZ: I'm not aware that, you know, on a specific trade from one counterparty to another-

BRYAN BURROUGH: If you're just living out in Schenectady, that doesn't sound all that bad. In fact, that is a kiss of death. He has all but driven a spear through Schwartz's heart because he's saying that Bear Stearns is not trustworthy in the eyes of those it trades with.

KATE KELLY, The Wall Street Journal: For Bear, it turns out to be a big blow because it's a public acknowledgement of what sounds like a specific example, and Alan looks to some people like he's not on the ball.

ALAN SCHWARTZ: -and I think the situation with time will stabilize.

DAVID FABER: Well, Alan Schwartz, thank you so much for being here this morning. Appreciate it.

NARRATOR: Bear had borrowed heavily to invest in toxic assets and other high-risk securities. To survive, it would have to find more lenders willing to loan it money.

JOHN CASSIDY, The New Yorker: Bear Stearns rolls over its loans every night or every few nights in what's known as the repo market. And that gives its lenders an opportunity, each night, if they want to, to call in some of their loans or to demand more collateral. What this amounts to, effectively, is that investment banks- there's a vote of confidence every night on whether they survive or not.

NARRATOR: And that night, the markets were voting no confidence in Bear Stearns. Their stock was dropping and the cash reserves were beginning to dwindle.

JEFFREY LANE: This stuff became a self-fulfilling prophecy. You know, a lot of people that perhaps would not have acted, in listening to some of the things that were going on, said, "I can't leave my assets there anymore. I have to have them out."

ALAN GREENBERG: You're sitting in the middle of an avalanche. What can you do if you're on the side of a mountain and an avalanche comes at you? An avalanche goes what, 60 miles an hour? You can't outrun it, right? What can you do?

NEWSCASTER: The story has continued to mushroom, and there are concerns amongst-

NARRATOR: On Thursday, Bear's stock continued to fall, and the reserve was almost completely gone.

BRYAN BURROUGH: By 6:00 o'clock, it's very clear that they do not have enough money to open the next day. They have 12 to 14 hours to do something unprecedented in terms of raising emergency capital or go under.

NARRATOR: They had one last chance, the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. Tim Geithner was in charge.


and the rest is history
posted by Hammond Rye at 8:04 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow. Half-way through the full version. It's on torrents now, so those of us outside the country and/or with unreliable high speeds can watch it in half-decent quality. If the Real Media wants to beat out blogs, it needs to do some real journalism. Stewart's research team can make a killing doing hard interviews.

Cramer's not to blame, he really thought he was a comedian. Or at least that's what he really, really wants us to believe. He's a little boy who has broken something he knows he's been told is valuable, even if he doesn't quite understand what it means to be "valuable."

And now it's broken and it can never be fixed and he knows he's going to be caught and he really hopes he get caught and maybe if he tells a story his dad will believe him and he won't get in trouble and oh please oh please oh. So he barely holds on to his tears and he bravely tells a story and he even believes it himself because if you really, really believe then it will come true.

I expect him to start crying in the next half of the full interview.

Cramer's big brothers were also playing risky games with high stakes. And possibly there were what should have been responsible guardian adults who weren't doing their jobs. If this is a family metaphor, this is one of those families that become World Weekly News headlines.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:17 PM on March 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


I was struck by what a huge difference there was between the version that aired and the unedited version. With the aired version, you get the wonderful cathartic experience of watching a supreme jackass getting his well-deserved comeuppance. In the unedited version, you see a somewhat more human side to Cramer, and more of the emphasis is on chastising CNBC as a whole and not just Cramer. I think it was really classy of Stewart and the Daily Show to make the unedited version available.
posted by marsha56 at 10:05 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


DiscourseMarker: Thanks for clearing up those finer points of fact about the roles of the FTC and FCC--of course, it makes more sense the trade commission is responsible for regulating advertising while the communications commission is responsible for broadcast content. It's also true that Fairness Doctrine regs didn't address accuracy, but weren't there a number of civil legal precedents in the past that made it a little easier to hold the media to account for misrepresentations of fact that have since seen some erosion due to more recent court decisions? I may be mistaken. There is one point you raise, however, that I take exception with. You write:

And to be fair, we (the public) bought it. Even though the public's perceptions of newscasters credibility has been in a steady decline, people still watch broadcast news.

I've heard variations on this theme from a lot of different quarters. Hyper-self-critical lefties like to flagellate themselves with this masochistic idea that they share in the blame for the declining quality of news content because, by tuning in anyway, they're still going along for the ride. Defenders of the news media and of media more generally claim to only be giving their viewers what they want. Rupert Murdoch, for example, loves this particular line of self-defense. And yet, year after year, overall TV viewership for all the major networks keeps declining.

This line of argument also overlooks another crucial fact: We're effectively a captive audience out here, you know. If we don't like the programming served up to us, our only option is to turn it off. Yes, yes, we can change the channel. But why bother? When only a handful of media conglomerates, all linked together in elaborate daisy chains of subsidiary partnerships and strategic alliances produce all the content--and when the news media, in particular, which many of us have been conditioned all our lives to view as vital servants of the public interest, the "fourth-estate" of our particular form of democracy, undergoes unprecedented consolidation--where else is there to turn?

And yet, networks always insist they're only giving us what we want. We could of course all just turn off our TVs. Maybe overall viewership is down in part because some of us are doing exactly that. But as I understand it, broadcasting licenses are issued on the explicit condition that broadcasters operate in a manner consistent with the public interest. If we've reached the point where the only alternative to advertiser-friendly, dumbed down childish crap dressed up as news is turning the TV off, than haven't broadcasters already failed to meet those basic obligations? If the news media began to hold themselves to a higher quality standard again, the public's standards would eventually rise to the same level.

As human beings, we acclimate ourselves to our cultural surroundings; its in our natures as social beings. And the news media itself plays a major role in defining the culture we find ourselves embedded in, which in turn, shapes our expectations of the media. It's a recursive function in which programming content and demand both influence one another non-linearly, not a simple linear one in which consumer demand dictates programming content without any reciprocal effect on demand. So the defense falls flat.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:27 PM on March 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Mad Money ratings, March 9

6PM - P2+ (25-54) (35-64)
Mad Money—328,000 viewers (93,000) (187,000)

11 PM P2+ (25-54) (35-64)
Mad Money—176,000 viewers (73,000) (133,000)

The Daily Show ratings, March 8

2,110,000 viewers

It seems that Jon Stewart has introduced Cramer to the audience he needs most.
posted by Brian B. at 10:39 PM on March 13, 2009


A lot of us would be watching our first-ever full Cramer episode, though, just to see if he de-tunes his freakshow and starts taking a serious approach to informing and educating people; or if he decides he can afford to keep his freak on. The web clip bits I've seen make it look like a pretty clownish show.

I find it very hard to believe Cramer's show was truly influential in the big scheme of things. He made his huge bucks way early on¹, but it sounds like he got out of the game early and cheap, and started this PeeWee Herman-esque financial ¿advice? show. Quit being a crook, became an accomplice.

Cramer might be wise at this point to really start thinking about how to best please the people who could end up deciding whether to throw his ass in jail, or to go after bigger fish. His misdeeds were relatively small-time compared to the guys who's greed made them 1000x time more wealthy than Cramer. Their crimes are what really destroyed the markets. Cramers paltry hundred mill are like pennies by comparison.

Triage.

¹as a crook, judging by the Sekrit Interview for Insiders video.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:21 PM on March 13, 2009


We're effectively a captive audience out here, you know. If we don't like the programming served up to us… where else is there to turn?

iTunes. I am fairly confident that if the Colbert Report wanted to go wholly independent, they could pull it off. I think they could succeed in convincing enough of their viewship to support them directly by purchasing $20/20 episode subscriptions, that they would be able to fund production and pay staff a good living wage. And perhaps freaking great wages. A hundred thousand subscribers is a seventy thousand bucks per episode. That's got to pay a few wages and treat some interns to pizza. And I suspect he could easily draw a million subscribers globally, which is enough to make everyone involved in the show quite wealthy.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:26 PM on March 13, 2009


Ratings for TDS are up 22% for this kerfluffle, and for Mad Money, down 24%. Considering the size of their respective audiences, Stewart wins, and wins big, for taking a principled stand, and Cramer loses, and loses big, for being exposed for what he is.

Corporate Media: Take. The. Hint.

Being the Good Guy brings in the eyeballs - if the corporations want some of that to shill their dish-soap, THEY have to play ball, not YOU. Clue in already!
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:38 PM on March 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


Stewart said something that I think was very insightful. The traders took a linear growth rate and turned into a geometric one: they started using derivatives. Which should make anyone, once they see how that inevitably leads to disaster, say "Whoa, hey, no, can't do that." Nothing can grow forever. Geometric growth curves are unsustainable. And when that happens, things always crash hard: extinctions, disasters, tsunamis, devastation.

The traders engaged in theft. We should repossess.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:40 PM on March 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Maybe Cramer should Pull a Kennedy.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:52 PM on March 13, 2009


five fresh fish: "iTunes. I am fairly confident that if the Colbert Report wanted to go wholly independent, they could pull it off. I think they could succeed in convincing enough of their viewship to support them directly by purchasing $20/20 episode subscriptions, that they would be able to fund production and pay staff a good living wage. And perhaps freaking great wages. A hundred thousand subscribers is a seventy thousand bucks per episode. That's got to pay a few wages and treat some interns to pizza. And I suspect he could easily draw a million subscribers globally, which is enough to make everyone involved in the show quite wealthy."

I wonder whether in that situation Viacom might lay claim to Stephen Colbert's "character". Because it is a role he's playing, not himself, and I'd guess the company would own that along with the Colbert Report brand. No way they'd let him walk away with it and profit off of it himself.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:31 AM on March 14, 2009


And yet, year after year, overall TV viewership for all the major networks keeps declining.

That's true, if you're talking about the broadcast networks (which is what the first three of those links were discussing). It's not clear that overall TV content viewing is down, b/c at least some of the network market share has gone to cable, satellite, DVRs, and probably the Internet. My own personal, anecdotal observation from teaching media & broadcasting for almost 15 years is that the average viewer (and I would have to say that the MeFi audience is not representative of the typical TV viewer) doesn't distinguish between the source of TV content, it's all just TV. So they may be leaving ABC, NBC, CBS, & FOX, but they're just going to CNN, ESPN, TNT, or wherever (see also).

And we're actually talking about two *cable* networks in this story, CNBC and Comedy Central.

This line of argument also overlooks another crucial fact: We're effectively a captive audience out here, you know. If we don't like the programming served up to us, our only option is to turn it off. Yes, yes, we can change the channel. But why bother? When only a handful of media conglomerates, all linked together in elaborate daisy chains of subsidiary partnerships and strategic alliances produce all the content--and when the news media, in particular, which many of us have been conditioned all our lives to view as vital servants of the public interest, the "fourth-estate" of our particular form of democracy, undergoes unprecedented consolidation--where else is there to turn?

But as I understand it, broadcasting licenses are issued on the explicit condition that broadcasters operate in a manner consistent with the public interest. If we've reached the point where the only alternative to advertiser-friendly, dumbed down childish crap dressed up as news is turning the TV off, than haven't broadcasters already failed to meet those basic obligations?

I totally understand where you're coming from, and I've just probably gotten too cynical, but I really do think that turning it off is the best solution. Honestly, I don't actually think that most Americans *do* view the media as vital servants of the public interest, because nobody knows what the public interest is. This is as much a fault of the regulators as the audience, b/c the government has never clearly defined what it considers "public interest" to be, and the meaning changes frequently based on whatever political wind is blowing.

So while yes, on paper, broadcasters are said to serve in the "public interest," the cold, hard reality is that the public interest = what the public is interested in. The only thing the FCC seems to care about is how many swear words you utter on broadcast TV. And I don't see the public complaining to the FCC that broadcasters have failed to serve the public interest.

I actually had a group of students, many of whom wanted to enter various media professions, tell me in class discussion that they didn't think the concept of journalism as a fourth estate was really all that important. I fear that this is a fairly widespread attitude.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 9:19 AM on March 14, 2009


The media's deliberate stupidity
posted by homunculus at 2:33 PM on March 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


This line of argument also overlooks another crucial fact: We're effectively a captive audience out here, you know. If we don't like the programming served up to us, our only option is to turn it off. Yes, yes, we can change the channel. But why bother? When only a handful of media conglomerates, all linked together in elaborate daisy chains of subsidiary partnerships and strategic alliances produce all the content--and when the news media, in particular, which many of us have been conditioned all our lives to view as vital servants of the public interest, the "fourth-estate" of our particular form of democracy, undergoes unprecedented consolidation--where else is there to turn?


Well, hell, why not turn it off? There's a reason I haven't watched a standard "news broadcast" in over three years. I honestly only use my television for Mythbusters, Dirty Jobs, the occasional BBC American network show and reruns of a show an actress I know is on. The rest of network television sucks dingo kidneys and I refuse to waste my time.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:11 AM on March 15, 2009


Great post. I only know of Cramer from channel-surfing past his show a couple of times, but it took some guts to show up for this dressing-down and he handled it well. He came off as a reasonably likeable sociopath.

The video clips were selected by Stewart to convey the impression I get whenever I see Cramer's show: that he is engaging in market manipulation on a nightly basis, pumping stocks that he and whoever funds him stand to profit from. I love the part where Cramer talks about how satisfying it is.

There is one point where the naked fury in Stewart's voice is so apparent it made me want to stand up and cheer.
posted by Manjusri at 11:56 AM on March 15, 2009


There's a reason I haven't watched a standard "news broadcast" in over three years.

I had my fill of infotainment and quit watching TV "news" 8 or 9 years ago, and am better informed now about the world than I ever have been, because now I only read actual reporting and thoughtful commentary and don't have to sort through the stupid on top of that.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:08 PM on March 15, 2009


There's a reason I haven't watched a standard "news broadcast" in over three years.

Is this something I'd need a TV not to do?
posted by found missing at 2:20 PM on March 15, 2009


Tucker Carlson Accuses Jon Stewart Of Being A Partisan Hack
posted by homunculus at 3:33 PM on March 15, 2009


Tucker Carlson Accuses Jon Stewart Of Being A Partisan Hack

Ah, jeez, so WHAT? It doesn't matter if Stewart is partisan, someone's stooge, becoming so sanctimonious that he becomes unfunny or secretly Martian. It also doesn't matter who "won" the "face-off."

Stewart made many points that should be part of the public discourse. I don't even care what side anyone takes; the important thing is that we explore the issues he's raising rather than the info-tainment bullshit that usually passes for news and public policy criticism.

Stewart and MStPT's point about the two markets is my biggest take-away. Obviously, it's really a spectrum between simple un-leveraged loans from deposits and geometric derivative driven risk hedged growth, but I think there's an important third point between (a) 401(k)s and (c) Cramer's hedge fund shenanigans: (b) Cramer's Mad Money investors.

The 401(k), IRA and non-tax-sheltered mutual fund investors are supposed to be riding the market for the long-term gains and this is the way novices are supposed to be able to beat inflation.

People investing their "mad money" 10% are supposed to understand the risk & be able to go on if their stake is zeroed out.

CNBCs reporting isn't really targeted at the (a)s and most of their advertising isn't either. What the financial press ought to be saying is the line they've always fed us: leave it alone, temporary downturns are normal & actually "opportunities" and as you get closer to retirement you should move from Growth to Income to Stable Value funds. Does anyone still believe this? CNBC seems to be doing what they always have: serving the (b) dupes that think they can time the market.
posted by morganw at 4:56 PM on March 15, 2009


Well, Tucker Carlson certainly has no credibility to make such an accusation, but more fundamentally he should learn what an ad homenim attack is and why it's a logical fallacy.
posted by LooseFilter at 7:57 PM on March 15, 2009


I don't know why I'm surprised, but Tucker Carlson has no clue as to what the hell he is talking about. He doesn't have the basic facts straight on this story.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:51 PM on March 15, 2009


P.o.B.--given that Carlson has always been an attention-whore (generally speaking, anyone outside of academia who daily dons a bow tie wants you to notice them a little too much), and since lately, he's become increasingly irrelevant as far as talking-head celebrities* go, having been thrust outside the arc of the media spotlight in a backlash against his close associations with neo-con agenda boosterism, I think he's just seen what Cramer's little spat with the Daily Show has done for raising Cramer's public profile, and now he's hoping to break off a little piece of that action.

If I'm not mistaken, Carlson thinks he can bring it to the Daily Show.

*If the more recognizable members of the chattering classes (i.e., those who regularly make the press rounds pretending to speak as independent experts on politically-charged matters) can truly be called "celebrities," considering they are in most respects merely paid spokespersons, whose "expert analysis" consists only in rehashing the carefully vetted talking points of the partisan Washington think-tanks and opinion journals they represent.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:33 AM on March 16, 2009


Carlson thinks he can bring it to the Daily Show.

And we laughed, and we laughed, and we laughed.

What. A. Maroon.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:52 AM on March 16, 2009


I think it was the fact he wasn't wearing a bow tie in that clip that surpised me.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:26 PM on March 16, 2009


Well, Tucker Carlson certainly has no credibility to make such an accusation, but more fundamentally he should learn what an ad homenim attack is and why it's a logical fallacy.

Ah, no, not really. The people who listen to Tucker Carlson need to learn about ad hominem attacks; I would suspect Mr. Carlson knows what they are quite well. Simply because he employs a technique doesn't mean he doesn't understand its basis; he just understands it effectiveness. Don't misunderestimate the likes of Carlson.
posted by Bovine Love at 3:42 PM on March 16, 2009


What If Jon Stewart, Instead of John King, Interviewed Dick Cheney
posted by homunculus at 7:48 PM on March 17, 2009


Jim Cramer last week on the Daily Show,
"I try really hard to make as many good calls as I can."
"I should do a better job."
"I wish I'd done a better job."
"I'm trying. I'm trying."


Jim Cramer this week on the Today Show,
"a naive and misleading thing to attack the media."
"We weren't behind this. CNBC, in particular, has been out front on this,"
"I think there are people who bear so much more responsibility [than the media] that it's just wrong-headed -- the politicians, the regulators, the SEC, the lenders, the investment banks."


And apparently he didn't fight back against Stewart because he was "taught to take the high road."
posted by Tenuki at 1:18 PM on March 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


the politicians, the regulators, the SEC, the lenders, the investment banks.

He does have a point.

Doesn't make him any less a sleazy asshole.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:11 PM on March 19, 2009


Expert Financial Advice Cuts Brain Activity
posted by homunculus at 4:43 PM on March 25, 2009


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