Free-Hand Thinking

Untethered Thoughts from the Mind of a Liberty Loving, God Fearing American

Jon Stewart is almost there…

Posted by Bobby on March 13, 2009

I was watching TV last night, and I watched an interview Jon Stewart of the Daily Show did with Jim Cramer. Now, typically, I do not watch the Daily Show, which is a satirical news show, because if I want news, I’ll go to an actual news source and if I want to laugh, I’ll watch one of my favorite cartoons. But last night I was interested in this particular show because Cramer was the guest, and they have had a little bit of a media based back and forth over comments Cramer made a few days ago. If you want to see some of the things being said, the Daily Show’s website has a lot of the material on the front page. After watching the interview–which, even after editing, took up the whole half hour–I was interested in Jon’s take on CNBC. Here is the full video, but I am quoting some excerpts that best point out Jon’s position:

about 2:32 in:

Cramer: The Regulators watch the tape, they realize the shenanigans going on there, and they can go after this. They… they didn’t catch Madoff, that’s a shame…

Stewart: When you talk about the regulators, why not the financial news network? That’s the whole point of this…

Cramer: Ok.

Stewart: CNBC could be an incredibly powerful tool of illumination for people that believe that there are two markets. One that has been sold to us as long term. ‘Put your money in 401k’s. Put your money in pensions. And just leave it there, don’t worry about it. It’s all doing fine.’ Then there’s this other market, this real market, that occurring in a back room. Where giant piles of money are going in and out. People are trading them and its transactional and its fast. But its dangerous. Its ethically dubious, and it hurts that long term market. So what it feels like to us–and I’m speaking purely as a laymen–it feels we are capitalizing your adventure by our pension and that it is a game that you (Cramer) know, that you know is going on, but you go on television as a financial network and pretend isn’t happening.

About 5:00 in:

Stewart: Its not, Its not just you. Its larger forces at work. It is this idea that the financial news industry is not just guilty of a sin of omission, but a sin of commission. That, they are actually in bed with [them].

Now, I like John Stewart. I think he is a funny guy and I’m happy he is starting to see the lack of any true journalism or news reporting on the CNBC or–as he calls it–the financial news network, but sir, you are missing the bigger picture. ALL journalism is dead. There is very little hard news reporting coming out of newspapers and network new agencies. They have all become opinion oriented. The most popular and publicized personalities are opinion personalities.

The reason for such a shift is probably more disturbing than what they refuse to report. In “the good ole days” of journalism, reporters made their careers on bringing politicians down. Exposing corruption in any form of power (government, wall street, even Hollywood) was a fast track to instant success. Today, the culture has changed. Media and news has become so commercialized and profit based that reporters will print whatever will sell, regardless of what is really happening. Anti-Bush press sold heavily during his last 2 years, so the press gave it; but, pro-Obama pieces are more profitable, so the media is acting accordingly. Before the financial melt down, people wanted to learn how to profit from the economic climate. CNBC followed suit, did pieces on how to make a buck in this market, and completely left any journalistic integrity at the door.

I like Jon’s criticism of the news media, but I think he targeted the wrong person. Cramer is an opinion personality. Expecting him to report hard news on the financial sector is like expecting Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Chris Matthews, or Keith Olbermann to do the same. Opinion personalities are fine in moderation, but when they begin to dominate the medium you have what we have today. A mass of sycophants attempting to please the very people they should be protecting us from.

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