Hanged, drawn and quartered

15Mar09

jon-stewart-jim-cramer

Like most people, I thoroughly enjoyed Jon Stewart‘s drawing and quartering of Jim Cramer on The Daily Show last week. It tells you something about the cultural zeitgeist when a television comedian is the one who ends up taking the mantle of journalism.

The episode, despite being immensely uncomfortable to watch, was catharsis in many ways. It was also refreshing to see Stewart finally come down on Cramer (unfortunately, a scapegoat for the real problem – financial news networks) in an expletive laden interview/skewering.

But isn’t that part of the problem? Selling this idea that you don’t have to do anything. Anytime you sell people the idea that sit back and you’ll get 10 to 20 percent on your money, don’t you always know that that’s going to be a lie? When are we going to realize in this country that our wealth is work? That we’re workers and by selling this idea that of “Hey man, I’ll teach you how to be rich”…how is that any different than an infomercial?

I gotta tell you. I understand that you want to make finance entertaining, but it’s not a fucking game. When I watch that, I get, I can’t tell you how angry it makes me because it says to me, “You all know.” You all know what’s going on. You can draw a straight line from those shenanigans to the stuff that was being pulled at Bear and at AIG and all this derivative market stuff that is this weird Wall Street side bet.

How come journalists back in India never hold our politicians’ feet to the fire like Stewart did?

(PS: I did feel sorry for Cramer.)

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8 Responses to “Hanged, drawn and quartered”

  1. 1 bpsk

    You got to give Cramer credit for coming on the show and taking his lumps like a man. Most people in his position would have just found themselves too busy attending a no-comment convention.

    Quite a few reviewers said that Jon Stewart was way too serious for a comic, but when the court is sleeping, it is the jester that has to speak up.

  2. Indian journalists do that. Why only recently had Karan Thapar and Arun Shourie exchanged words during an interview… and Rajdeep Sardesai had practically two elderly netas in a corner in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks. It’s just that when that happens, people don’t highlight it as in other countries.

  3. @bpsk The way I see it, Cramer had no choice. It would have been a PR disaster for CNBC if he snubbed Stewart like Santelli did. Wait, it *is* a PR disaster.

    @indisch I did think of Karan Thapar. See, the problem is, these interviews get very little exposure outside of the English speaking populace. That restricts it from truly being akin to what Stewart did – channeling public anger.

    I’d like to see more popular news channels in regional languages do what Thapar and Sardesai do.

  4. @PS: Dude, while I thoroughly enjoyed the “discussion,” I couldn’t but wonder the time when Jon Stewart was called into Cross Fire, where he openly declared that he was into comedy and NOT into journalism. And while I respect, and even appreciate what he’s doing for the world, I couldn’t but feel sorry for Cramer. At the same time, to some of the questions that Stewart was asking, I could’ve given better answers. They were simple financial answers that created the amount of wealth that the world saw and loved.

    Again, Cramer wasn’t the best person to handle the questions that Stewart was asking, and Jon made the best use of it 😀

  5. @Guru Panguji You know, if you go back, it all began as comedy. And CNBC chose to take him seriously; Stewart *had* to do this.

    Jon Stewart’s questions weren’t that smart, I agree. It was just channeling populist outrage. It had more to do with how financial news networks made it look like the boom would never end and how they pandered to the perpetrators of the bust. Also, Cramer is guilty of manipulating the market (through his hedge fund) even if it was ‘technically legal’.

    Yes yes, I do know Cramer was just plain unlucky and I actually enjoy his all out silliness on Mad Money. 🙂

  6. For one, Jon asked questions that were rather unanswerable in short snippets. For another, CNBC’s audience is not Joe the plumber — it is Wall St. One but has to see the ads on CNBC to get this. At the end of the day, Jon and his ilk didn’t talk about this, either. I didn’t see Taleb, Soros, Roubini or countless others who’ve been talking about this on Jon’s show for the five years that people have been talking about this coming. Of course, that could be because Jon was busy making fart noises. Perhaps he should stick to it.

    Not that Cramer is any better, but expecting a for profit TV channel to be socially responsible is laughable at best. Perhaps Jon should donate all his wealth too, in the spirit of social responsibility.

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