Friday, March 13, 2009

Beware the Talkpocalypse!

Here's the inevitable denouement (?) of the Jon Stewart-Jim Cramer smackdown:

(that's just the longest segment, it's broken up into five parts - go to The Daily Show for everything)

This was, as I'm sure you're aware by now, uncomfortable-to-watch television. And I'm left squeamish not just because of the confrontation, but because - come on! - Stewart was being unfair.

Yes, presenting financial news as entertainment is probably not helping promote financial literacy. Of course, if CNBC didn't do it that way, they wouldn't have enough of an audience to stay on the air (I know, cry me a river).

But really, blaming Cramer and company for not seeing the financial meltdown coming? As opposed to who? Greenspan? Geithner? Anyone not named Nouriel? And blaming them for having CEO's on who lied - as opposed to every politician who has ever appeared on television.

I think Cramer did himself and his network a disservice by sitting there like a deer in the headlights and taking the punishment. Yes, they had much of it coming, but defending why things are the way they are and why they made the mistakes they did would have been educational for the audience (and less squeamish - nobody likes to watch roadkill, even if they can't look away).


At 8:57 AM, March 13, 2009, Anonymous PK said...

While I wouldn't blame Cramer for the financial ills of the country, and it's obvious his show is a lot of schtick....watching CNBC most weekdays, it's amazing at the amount of soft ball questions, corporate back slapping and lack of investigative reporting until after the fact. The housing bubble about to burst was known to many, but without good investigative reporting, it's impending ramifications went mostly unreported. Except for David Faber's excellent series and a few other reports...CNBC is a lot of show boating. Everyone's mother said she loved them and nobody checked it out!

At 1:13 PM, March 13, 2009, Blogger AndyW said...

I think TV is inherently tied to entertainment. "60 Minutes," Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, whatever, once you introduce the visual element, you're playing on a different level.

Obviously, being entertaining is usually an asset in print, too, but there's plenty of dry, boring print in the world, whereas everything on TV at least tries, I think, to be interesting. Maybe part of that is that there are far more outlets and fewer barriers to entry for print than televised (or even YouTubed) information.

FWIW, I like the Calculated Risk blog (, which has the dual value of being entertaining and having seen the financial meltdown coming.


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