Accountability on TV
Re “Funny? Maybe until he’s interviewing you,” March 14
As funny as the confrontation between Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" and Jim Cramer of "Mad Money" was -- and it was a killer -- the tragedy is that it took a comedian to make it happen.
The real issue isn't that CNBC's "financial experts" missed the biggest economic tsunami in 75 years. It is the lack of oversight that the incident pointed out. Most people still feel that if something is on television, it is probably true -- that someone must be screening it to protect the public.
That is not the case. Corporate-owned CNBC's only real goal is to garner high ratings so it can make more money. It allows its "experts" to say anything they please, as long as it won't get them sued.
What Stewart really pointed out is that it's time to rein these guys in.
Stewart, who I generally think is great, made two indictments against Cramer. The first was, "Leave the entertainment to me. You report the financial news." But it's as ridiculous to tell Cramer that he can't mix entertainment with finance as it is to tell Stewart that he can't mix politics with entertainment.
By this reasoning, Chris Rock, Will Ferrell and other comedians who so brilliantly bring to light our political foibles should all stay away from politics. And we would all miss out.
Stewart's second indictment against Cramer was, "You didn't predict the financial Armageddon, so you're responsible for it." Yes, it's true that Cramer didn't predict the meltdown. But who did? Did Warren Buffett? Do you hear Stewart railing against him? If Stewart is genuinely concerned about our politics and our economy, then it is he who should move to a political or finance network like CNBC -- rather than hawking his "snake oil" on a channel that disguises his political maneuvering as "comedy."
I was struck by this in your front-page story: "It was not the first time that Stewart, unencumbered by the restraints of mainstream journalism, has been lauded for his skills as an interviewer."
The implication is that these "restraints" are what caused mainstream journalism's failures in recent years. But exactly what restraints encumbered mainstream journalists from writing about securities based on subprime mortgages, credit default swaps and all the government-issue baloney of the last eight years?
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