I just caught Jim Cramer’s appearance on The Daily Show. A little backstory: a week or so
ago, The Daily Show ran a brutal segment on CNBC’s bullshit; they essentially nailed the network’s talking heads for misleading viewers and generally sacrificing business news for sound byte friendly bombast. It’s great stuff; check it out here (still can’t figure out how to embed Comedy Central stuff on here). Cramer got mad and badmouthed Stewart, who responded a few days later with another segment devoted to rocking Cramer. Cramer was on The Daily Show tonight (3/12) to even things up, I guess.
Long story short: he didn’t. He really didn’t. If you were expecting and intelligent back-and-forth, with valid points to be made for both sides, you don’t need to watch this interview. Stewart rolled some tape of Cramer being ethically dubious, and Cramer couldn’t respond. Stewart asked Cramer why he tries to make investment and business seem easy, obvious, and somewhat whimsical, and Cramer couldn’t respond, other than to agree that he and the network need to take things more seriously. As it became clear that Cramer was not going to be able or willing to offer any real, substantive answers, Stewart became more bold, and more seemingly ticked off at Cramer. His questions became more and more pointed, and Cramer continued to nod and basically agree with Stewart. He claimed often that sometimes people on his show lied to him, and no business journalist can get everything right, but he had nothing when Stewart pressed him on why his shows are so full of gimmicks and shouting, as opposed to the earnest, even-keeled business
journalism that he seemed to be advocating on The Daily Show. Cramer claimed that there was an audience for his schtick, but when Stewart countered by saying that giving people entertaining advice of what to do with their mortgages and 401k’s is not ethically responsible, his point stood.
I’ve written previously on the issues involved with business cable news, and I do think that Stewart made a number of really good points tonight. He certainly tore Cramer apart; maybe he’ll even take some of the advice that Stewart hammered him with. I appreciate Stewart and his Daily Show crew for doing some excellent journalism, but I’m not convinced that that CNBC is that deserving of a target. I know that Rick Santelli’s incredibly stupid rant (well exploded in Stewart’s first CNBC clip) energized a portion of incredibly stupid rich people, and I suppose that some of their viewers were stupid enough to think that following Cramer’s shouted stock information was going to help them make it big, but I’m not convinced that either a.) real investment professionals watched Cramer et al.’s shows and used their advice to make bad investments that lost people money, or b.) the amount of individuals who were mislead by CNBC’s shouters and lost money wouldn’t have just made bad decisions about their money anyway. That said, I am encouraged that real journalists are still around to knock the fake journalists around every once in a while.