Face Off

Friday, March 13, 2009

CNBC pundit Jim Cramer and The Daily Show's Jon Stewart are publicly feuding. Diane Brady, senior editor at BusinessWeek, and Dan Gross, senior editor at Newsweek, talk about the back-and-forth -- and whether it's good for journalism.


Diane Brady and Dan Gross

Comments [51]

Micheal from Manhattan

"he masks his prideful arrogance as a sort of intellectual humor." Damn right ! and not only is he CORRECT (notice how John himself suffers no come uppance) HE IS FUNNY! I laugh my ass Off! and that is the purpose! The right cannot be this funny because as an earlier commenter noted you have to have TRUTH to have humor. The really bad thing about all this is the only person who asks the REAL questions is John Stewart, and ironicaly CNBC after 7 pm

Mar. 13 2009 01:40 PM
Renate Bridenthal from Manhattan, NYC

To Brian's question, is Jon a moral arbiter or comedian, I would answer that as court jester he is both. It is an old and honorable profession. What's more, he's brilliant. I agree with Brian that Stewart performs an important service.

Mar. 13 2009 01:16 PM
J.C. from Minneapolis

I agree with comment #48. I still like Jon Stewart, but I think he might be heading down the road to where the very fact one has an opinion (gasp!) on an issue is bad thing and should be laughed at.

Mar. 13 2009 12:11 PM
John from Brooklyn

What discourages me about Stewart is that he accuses others (Crossfire, for example) of “dragging down the political discourse” when in fact, what he’s doing with Daily Show is far more detrimental to our national conversation. He uses his platform to take a “holier than thou” approach to ridiculing whoever and whatever he wants in politics and the media. Moreover, his technique often borders on snark – but he masks his prideful arrogance as a sort of intellectual humor.

When accused of being too politically influential himself, he takes the position of “I’m just a comedian.” He’s trying to have the best of both worlds. The unfortunate truth is that a huge number of young Americans rely on him as their primary source of news – and while Stewart would disagree or discourage this – he’s still an incredibly influential voice. The danger here is that he’s ultimately setting a tone of complacency among young Americans about our politics and country. Rather than inspiring people, he simply puts for the notion that everything in Washington is wrong, everyone is corrupt and everything is laughable.

I used to be a huge fan of Stewart and still agree with the majority of his opinions. I just feel like he’s become the lowest form of commentator – the celebrity blogger – the Perez Hilton of politics.

Mar. 13 2009 11:39 AM
Tom from Manhattan

Cramer was a huge supporter of Obama during the campaign.

Is it a coincidence that last week Cramer went off the reservation slamming Obama on Sean Hannity as the greatest destroyer of wealth ever to be president and this week he is getting his comeuppance?

Mar. 13 2009 11:28 AM
Jed from Ft. Greene

Regarding the question of whether John Stewart is taking on the role of moral arbiter and then backing off, saying "I'm just a comedian"... If James Fallows is saying that John Stewart is the Edward Murrow, that's because we don't have an Edward Murrow. I'd place the blame for that in a lot of places: media conglomerates, congresses that haven't adequately regulated them, J-schools, journalists come to mind immediately; and certainly audiences have played their part. However, that person is not there. Until they are, anyone, like Stewart, who can do a bit of public service, should. That service does not oblige them to change their job. It just highlights a gross inadequacy in another profession - the hard news media.

Mar. 13 2009 11:11 AM

yes eva /

and certainly the wrath of madoff's victims, continuously twisting in the wind and msm, are the faces of due diligence.

Mar. 13 2009 11:08 AM
Outdated Floyd from Philadelphia

Comment 19 reminded me of the "sad clown" aphorism ascribed to how Jim Cramer presents himself on "Mad Money".

I am of the mind that the Beardstown Ladies' books explain the "homework" to which Cramer and the Gardner brothers ("The Motley Fool") allude. Then again, I'm not sure how much research would've led to the correct conclusion on any of the companies involved in the current mess.

That is, the financial info that some companies filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, for example, could easily have been wrong for any number of reasons. For comic effect, do a search on "Sarbanes-Oxley" and "fiction".

Mar. 13 2009 10:59 AM
Carol Guy from Manhattan

Who could watch Jim Cramer and think it a wise investment to pick thr stock he is yelling and banging pots about? I guess I don't understand investing.

Mar. 13 2009 10:57 AM
Jacob from Manhattan

Hrm that page is:

Mar. 13 2009 10:56 AM
Jacob from Manhattan

Two other things:

The Bear Stearns thing. A video of this went around a while ago. Cramer was not advising people to buy stock in Bear. He was saying if you had an account at Bear, you didn't need to liquidate it because even if Bear went bankrupt you still wouldn't lose your money. This has been consistently misrepresented, John Stewart misrepresented it on the Daily Show, and one of Brian's guests misrepresented it today.

Also it was said that there's no accountability for Cramer. On this page Cramer shows the performance of all his picks. You can search by stock. It only goes back to August or so, however.

Finally, I think people are confusing two different things here--whether Cramer is right, and whether he is corrupt. I do think Cramer has integrity. I get the sense that his thinking about stocks is genuine and not affected by his personal interests or those of his website. He recommends selling stocks much more than any other financial commentator or analyst I've ever seen. Indeed the proof of this is how often he flip-flops on stocks. If he was in bed with the companies, why would his advice change so often?

However, is he right? I read in the New York Times a while ago that someone did an audit of his picks. They did not do as well as the S&P 500.

Mar. 13 2009 10:54 AM
hjs from 11211

you drank the kool aid, now you're upset your doctor tells you you have diabetes

Mar. 13 2009 10:52 AM
Dan Shaw from Nyack, NY

Jon Stewart isn't just Edward R. Murrow, he's Billy Graham. Cramer confessed his sins and asked for redemption and salvation last night. As well he should.

Mar. 13 2009 10:51 AM
Paulo from Paterson

The full interview is available on the Daily Show's website for anybody's who is interested since they had to cut quite a bit out for the sake of time.

Mar. 13 2009 10:51 AM
keith burton from Inwood

It is a strange phenomenon that TDS has become so much more than fake news. Look at the parade of A-list guests from the political world that feel TDS holds enough of a place in the discourse to appear.
They seem to be the only show that actually has a memory and finds the clips to support it. Their dissection of "talking points" with guest after guest using exactly the same turns of phrase years ago has made just about every other "news" program unwatchable, or at least unbelievable.
At worst TDS is sophmoric, but at best they tell the truth like no one else seems to be in a position to do.

Mar. 13 2009 10:50 AM
Jacob from Manhattan

Couple things.

I've been following Cramer for a long time, first in the New York Observer, then on his radio show, now the web synposis of his TV show. I think he has been overexposed. He was more conservative on his radio show. And if you listened closely, sometimes he came up with really good picks.

Cramer also has been right about the general direction of the market. He said to buy tech in the late nineties, then said to sell it in 2000. He said to buy it back about '03. Very few people did this, but if they had...

One problem with Cramer is that he makes it sound really easy, even though he cautions against it. For the vast majority of people, listening to him would be a disaster, and they should never dabble in individual stocks, and just buy index funds with money they won't need anytime soon.

Mar. 13 2009 10:50 AM
eve from newark

It seems so many people are happy to criticize Cramer, without actually listen to what he says. Cramer makes very clear that you have to do YOUR OWN RESEARCH before AND after buying a stock. Cramer makes also clear that you have to make the decision what type of investment is the right for you. Cramer is smart and has an inside view. He is a great educator and if people would listen to what he actually says, they would know.

Mar. 13 2009 10:49 AM
Peter Gagnon from Jersey City

What about all of the stuff Stewart pointed out about Cramer's shady business dealings... Wall Street's shady business dealings for that matter? Why don't you talk about that?

Mar. 13 2009 10:48 AM
Evan from Blauvelt ny

It is very important that people check out the full interview on Comedy Centrals web site to see the real depth Stewart goes in to.

Mar. 13 2009 10:47 AM
Jeff Putterman from Queens

We know that CNBC is a joke simply because they made a star out of Maria Bartiromo. They cleaned up her Brooklyn accent, sent her to school to learn about the terms she needed to use, and now she interviews the creme de la creme (or so they act) and flies around in corporate jets at the expense of shareholders.

Mar. 13 2009 10:47 AM
Linda from NYC

I suggest you examine your own house. NPR's marketplace was totally complicit. I suggest that you review specifically the evening programs. You will easily see how it provided very little real information and spent its air time with increasingly silly fluff cheerleading for the "market" and no real reportage. I consider that it actually did damage.

Mar. 13 2009 10:46 AM
Nancy from NYC

JON STEWART, AMERICAN HERO! Talking truth folks needed to hear AND entertaining as hell (albeit squirmworthy)!

Mar. 13 2009 10:46 AM
Hal from Crown Heights

Does any pundit or satirist every really make a difference? We hope so every time we read essays that support our postitions.

Mar. 13 2009 10:45 AM
Amy from Brooklyn

I watch the Daily Show daily, but I was so embarrassed to see last night's show.
Jon was being a bully, using his platform and selected clips to try to humiliate Cramer, who is not a reporter but an entertainer. What was the point? It wasn't pointed or funny, but just a diatribe.

Mar. 13 2009 10:45 AM
John from chelsea

Jon Stewart is only doing to CNBC what he does to other media: challenging the gross hypocrisy of on air personalities.
The Daily Show's best weapon is playing the clips of contradictory statements that these self righteous jerks.

Mar. 13 2009 10:44 AM
Kas from Brooklyn

All financial journalism, possibly except for Bloomberg, was a willful cheerleader for the bull market. I remember when "Marketplace" started playing "We're In THe Money" when reporting the market went up. Even the BBC tv news would show the self-promoting close of the trading day, where a group of people flogging their stock on the market itself, appear on the podium, clapping joyously whether the market went up or not. There's no realism going on! No wonder this happened!

Mar. 13 2009 10:44 AM
Rich from Staten Island

I presume if we went back to the early 90s, we would find the same criticism of CNBC during the Internet Bubble. The commentators at the time seemed to be sales pitches in many IPOs that were not successful companies.

Mar. 13 2009 10:42 AM
bob from huntington

brian: why are you expressing such suprise at stewart's dual role? for the last eight years the daily show has been the only show doing anything remotely resembling critical reporting.

Mar. 13 2009 10:42 AM
Daniel from Prospect Heights

Stewart/Cramer = Frost/Nixon.

In the midst of a giant, swirling scandal, Jim Cramer was a stand-in for both the financial industry and its cheerleaders in the media. To see him humbled was gratifying, but Stewart also did an excellent job of explaining the contradictory system of incentives that made Wall Street shenanigans into a global crisis.

Mar. 13 2009 10:41 AM
Linda from NYC

Comedy depends upon the recognition of 'truth' in it.

Mar. 13 2009 10:40 AM
RLewis from The Bowery

We won!

CNBC reinforces the echo chamber of traders believing that somehow they are good for the US. They have ruined our country and CNBC is just covering the war for their self-agrandizement.

CNBC is getting the attention now so that I'll jump the shark very soon!

Mar. 13 2009 10:40 AM
esquared from FIDI

Yes, Jon Stewart is both the comedian --comic, jester -- AND moral arbiter (not wanting to be but IS); much like King Lear's Jester in Richard III. Let's just hope he doesn't disappear in Act III.

Mar. 13 2009 10:39 AM
Paulo from Paterson

Someone on the Daily Show website left a comment that Jon is a "just clown who does his homework". I think Jon would agree with this description. I personally would rather have a clown who does his homework than a "financial genius" who doesn't.

Mar. 13 2009 10:39 AM
Michael M Thomas from Brooklyn

One stockbroker I know holds CNBC responsible for most of the daily carnage on the Street. Day after day, he rails against CNBC for chumming the sharks/shorts.

Mar. 13 2009 10:39 AM
J.C. from NYC

Isn't the real problem is that the whole idea of "business news" segregates the subject of what is done by corporate America from the social consequences. Shouldn't all journalists be responsible for reporting the whole story.

Mar. 13 2009 10:39 AM

Why do we have to rely on Jon Stewart? Where was the financial media in general. I think most journalists are intellectual lightweights.
I would much rather rely on blogs and websites written by economists and other finance people.

Mar. 13 2009 10:39 AM
David from Forest Hills, NY

I was knee deep in 6 OT with UConn-Syracuse. How could I have possibly changed the channel?

Mar. 13 2009 10:38 AM
John Hahn from Glen Rock NJ

We care because Jon Stewart & Company tell the unvarnished truth with a little bit of humor.

Mar. 13 2009 10:38 AM
burtnor from upper west side

Although Stewart doesn't call himself a reporter, he is the only person asking the questions I wish ALL reporters would ask themselves and their media outlets. Why are they mostly just cheerleaders reading from press releases for everyone -- business, the government -- pushing self-serving party lines to the American public. Stewart was brilliant, Cramer cowering and appropriately contrite. I was proud of Stewart and cheering him on.

Mar. 13 2009 10:38 AM
Chicago listener

loud sells. smug sells. jim cramer is loud and smug. i don't consider him a journalist..he's much more like what jon stewart called him, an info-mercial host.

the only people crazier than the ones who turn to cramer for investment advice are the ones who consider jon stewart a "moral arbiter."

also, i don't pay for cable. i watched the clip on hulu.

Mar. 13 2009 10:38 AM
Bo from Brooklyn - Prospect Heights

Stewart is a hero. That was probably the most honest commentary, the most honest journalism we've seen on this whole financial mess.

Mar. 13 2009 10:37 AM

Thanks media for your hysteria!

In the last 2 days I made 40% on my stock pix (a few banks). Just cashed out.

Still saving for my goal of a 50% home down payment, that was the $ with which I invested.

If the media's role is to artificially pump up the market, then artificially push it down, anybody w this insight can participate in the free market with the assistance of the media and its dupes.

Mar. 13 2009 10:37 AM
Owen from Rochester

Cramer's attempt to win sympathy by apologizing the whole time was unsuccessful (at least with me). He didn't adequately address CNBC's tendency to show their reporters being all buddy-buddy with big business and taking CEO's word for it when they say their collapsing business are doing fine. Stewart should have cursed less and been a little less righteous-man-of-the-people, but he destroyed Cramer, without question.

Mar. 13 2009 10:36 AM
antonio from park slope

If you think that exchange was great, check out his duel with neo-con super droid John Bolto..

Mar. 13 2009 10:35 AM
Robert from NYC

John Stewart of the "fake news?" WAS BEING FAIR" and has the cujones to do what most on the "real news" (like even NPR and WNYC) have. Good for John Stewart. Boo to the rest of you. You're all in the pocket of big business because you ARE big business as too even PBS and NPR are moving in that direction.

Mar. 13 2009 10:35 AM
Jeff Putterman from Queens

CNBC is nothing but a continuous commercial for wall street. When I started in the business in the late 1970s, there was no CNBC. The fact that it exists indicates the scope of the sales job sold to americans.

But now we all know that we cannot afford what we cannot afford!!!!!

Mar. 13 2009 10:35 AM
John Hahn from Glen Rock NJ

Jon Stewart is a classic commentator who is honest about himself, his show and the world.
TDS did a good job of showing what a blowhard poor prognosticator he was at least regarding Bear Stearns.

Mar. 13 2009 10:35 AM
Gabby from Manhattan

Jon Stewart is the BEST! Said what we all wanted to say and he's funny at the same time.

Mar. 13 2009 10:34 AM

CNBC from what I understand serves as entertainment for the traders. I learned a long time ago to ignore CNBC and it is the worst thing to watch if you are a retail investor.

You knew there were problems with the network when some of their shows resembled ESPN Sunday morning football pre-game or FOX and CBS NFL today.

Mar. 13 2009 10:33 AM
Darius from Prospect Heights

It's more like Stewart vs. CNBC. The completely write off the clips that The Daily Show put together against CNBC show how deep the mentality goes. People at The Nation had been warning against this economic catastrophe since the late 90s but CNBC??? CNBC has been in the pocket of big business and their own self-interest the whole time.

The clips Steward had last night were pretty devastating to Cramer. I'm not sure how you defend someone who is describing how he lies and cheats the system only to fall victim to his own rhetoric. And it's not just Cramer it's that whole channel. I'm glad they settled it last night.

Mar. 13 2009 10:19 AM

I just read Diane Brady's post-Daily Show defense of Cramer in BusinessWeek online. WOW.

Please ask Ms. Brady to explain the disconnect between the goodness she sees in Cramer and what most ordinary workers and investors see in Cramer. Because these are not, as she claims, isolated bits of video. This is a defined pattern.

As FT writer Edward Chancellor wrote in "Devil Take the Hindmost", it's when they turn the markets into a clown show (as, say, Cramer has) that you know it's bad.

And please ask Mr. Gross, the "contrarian" author of "Pop! Why Bubbles Are Great for the Economy" to explain his premise in the two years since that book first appeared?

The credit bubble has not been "great", but devastating, and is already hurting poor countries and the environment unimaginably hard.

Don't say no one knew. Where BW and NW failed to forecast the current meltdown and failed to ask for accountability, Gretchen Morgenson of the Times had been warning us. Since the 1990's.

If the option is cheerleaders, I'll gratefully take what Jon Stewart offers.

Mar. 13 2009 05:19 AM

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