Jon Stewart puts spotlight on CNBC and meltdown

From our Business Partner Associated Press
Jon Stewart puts spotlight on CNBC and meltdown

NEW YORK (AP) — The feud between Jon Stewart and CNBC's Jim Cramer has been good for laughs — and ratings — but has also raised the serious question of whether the experts at TV's No. 1 financial news network should have seen the meltdown coming and warned the public.

Over the past two weeks, Stewart's "Daily Show" on Comedy Central has ridiculed CNBC personalities, including Cramer, the manic host of "Mad Money," by airing video clips of them making exuberantly bullish statements about the market and various investment banks shortly before they collapsed.

Courtesy of Comedy Central

Stewart has charged that people at CNBC knew what was going on behind the scenes on Wall Street but didn't tell the public. He has accused CNBC anchors and pundits of abandoning their journalistic duties and acting like cheerleaders for the market.

"In a tremendous boom period, they covered the boom and people wanted to believe in the boom," said Andrew Leckey, a former CNBC anchor and now president of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University. "They didn't uncover the lies that were told to them. Nobody did. But they should be held to a higher responsibility."

But Don Hodges, chairman of Hodges Capital Management in Dallas, said he doesn't fault CNBC for not seeing the bust coming.

"I'm not sure that anybody had seen it coming," he said. "I've listened to all of the so-called experts, and it's obvious that everybody is very confused."

Cramer, for his part, appeared on "The Daily Show" on Thursday and was interrogated Mike Wallace-style by Stewart. Cramer acknowledged that he made mistakes but said that he and CNBC weren't alone.

Like other Wall Street professionals, Joe Saluzzi, co-head of equity trading at Themis Trading LLC, said it was plain CNBC was bullish during the run-up in the economy over the past few years. But he said his job was to do his homework and not to make decisions based strictly on what he heard on TV.

The questions raised about CNBC are similar to those journalists faced about what was reported during the months before the Iraq War.

CNBC spokesman Brian Steel noted that the network "produces more than 150 hours of live television a week that includes more than 850 interviews in the service of exposing all sides of every critical financial and economic issue." He added: "We are proud of our record."

All of the cable news networks recognize the growing popularity of shows with a strong point of view. But is there too much talking and not enough reporting?

"They need some adult supervision about what people get to pop off about over there, even if it is opinion," said Dean Starkman, managing editor of Columbia Journalism Review's The Audit, which focuses on the business press. "They need to look into the mirror and see how close they are intellectually and emotionally with the people they cover. They need to sit back and get some critical distance."

Some CNBC defenders have accused Stewart of taking some of the video clips out of context, or blowing them out of proportion.

"A politician stumbles over himself," MSNBC "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough said on his own program. "Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response. And you know what? It's really easy to be a comedian and take those cheap shots."

Some at CNBC believed, at least prior to Cramer's appearance on Thursday, that the controversy was ultimately good for the network because of the attention it drew. Some questioned whether the business professionals who make up the bulk of CNBC's daytime audience would be affected by Stewart's criticisms.

From Feb. 19 through March 9, CNBC averaged 361,000 viewers during the business day, compared with 328,000 the three weeks before, according to Nielsen Media Research. During the same period, the page views on CNBC's Web site went up 22 percent from 13.1 million to 15.9 million.

Similarly, a video clip of Stewart's original criticism of CNBC last week has been seen more than anything else the show has put online this year.

"Stewart's a comedian and Cramer is a showman," said Robert Howell, professor at Dartmouth University's Tuck School of Business. "If anybody takes seriously anything that (Cramer) says, they're stupid."

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15 thoughts on “Jon Stewart puts spotlight on CNBC and meltdown

  1. I watch bloomberg finance news they beat the hell out of cnbc, their newscasters don't get involved in the politics with their views like that idiot Larry Kudlow, they have interviews with people who tells it like it is. If the dow is down the cnbc'ers are all depressed and whining about it. My friends and I call the the hollywood bunch.

  2. John Stuart sounds like he just lost alot of money in the market and is looking at someone to take it out on. The guy is hillarious and I personally watch all the time, but he of all people should know to never take everything for what media says as true. CNBC should focuse on giving better information that will seperate them from their competitors. Anyone who watches Jims show know he tells them to do their homework!!! Those that dont simply blame others for their poor investment decissions. The only thing cramer can be faulted on is not knowing how leveradged the banks were, but he is not looking to screw people over, he has nothing to gain from telling investors to buy bear sterns.

  3. One good thing will happen at the end of this bust, there will be no CNBC and no more Kramer.

    CNBC & Cramer have been cheeerleaders for the bulls in a totally
    shameful way. I listen to FOX business news now, they
    call a spade a spade. I am certain they will survive.

    The John Stewart clip was hysterical, thanks John!

  4. It's hard to criticize anyone who believes in their heart of hearts that they are good Americans doing what we do best--business--be it comedy or reporting. In either case, I think many of us have relearned the axiom of "buyer beware." The stocks of real companies that produce real goods and services cannot be confused with the source of the current problem--unregulated financial innovation. Instead of getting sidetracked on insignificant issues, let's try to keep focused on addressing the real problems and not confusing them with entertainment.

  5. If CNBC programs are for entertainment only and the " Experts " are not to be taken seriously then may be there should be a warning( similar to old sensorship or smoking related)
    " This is Entertainment Show and content should NOT be taken seriously "

  6. For John Hodges (reported in the above piece to be the chairman of Hodges Capital Management in Dallas) to say that “I’m not sure that anybody had seen it [the Banking and Equity Market Melt-down] coming” is amazing ......... he must have heard of (and must surely have read) the repeatedly stated warnings of Martin Weiss (google, since (and before) May/Jun 2008, that the current Melt-down situation would ensue as a result of the unsupportable (ridiculous) valuations of Financial Institutions (Banks, Insurance, Mortgage Companies, etc.) based on their "toxic investments".

    How come he didn't read and undersatnd Martin Weiss's carefully articulated and evidence-supported opinions, and so see this coming? (He's supposed to be 'in the Business'; I'm not.)

    Aweful, literally!

  7. For those of us that trade for a living I think that we know how to use CNBC for following critical news that effects our trading, while ignoring the cheerleading. Unfortunately there is a lot of "home gamers" as Cramer would call them sitting at home placing trades according to what CNBC is telling them. The Hogan bottom? My a@#!

  8. Recent congressional testimony has included wise suggestions that dependence on SEC and other governmental regulatory bodies to keep our financial institutions honest would be redundant and unnecessary if there were sufficient transparency into firms' operations. CNBC has the audience and therefore opportunity, along with other business news organizations, to privately implement that policy by penetrating reporting and providing public visibility of important practices such that investors may force honorable practices with their investment decisions. Publicity drives stock prices. The success that such policy would drive is sufficient to draw future audiences instead of using constant good news and entertainment to please all sponsors.

  9. Bimbos, buffoons and sycophants.
    The professor is absolutely right, unfortunately it still proves that there are alot of stupid people in the world.

  10. the cnbe commentators failed to disclosed the bank collapsing. moving on, they are each becoming cheerleaders for the President's programs. the comments are low key and not in your face. wake up america, cancel cnbc on your cable bill.

  11. I have to turn off CNBC too often because I can't stand listening to the idealogs that seem to be the majority voice of that station. Just to hear someone who actually makes sense and reports the facts seems to be foreign to that station. For example, can anyone tell me, from listening to the debate and to CNBC, if tax-cuts are a better stimulus to the economy than infrastructure jobs. This is a major issue. Has CNBC, a financial news station, done any kind of investigative report as to what the truth is? the answer is NO. Wouldn't it be nice to really know, so we can hold the politicians feet to the fire when they spot their views.

  12. Mr. Stewart, THANK YOU for exposing Jim Cramer and the other "financial gurus" for what they actually are - liars, idiots, and criminals. Perhaps when a class action lawsuit is successfully directed against CNBC and Cramer will the producers remove crap like this from the tube...

  13. The breaking news value and monitoring of current business developments is what is valuable at CNBC. But to think all of the 'journalists' are expert is astounding. Did anyone drill into some of their backgrounds to evaluate the 'expertise' for interpreting this crisis? Please! They just transport info that is fed in...with chatter for entertainment. There are a few with more serious expertise...and their perspectives have more depth. Steve Liesman, for instance, can interpret a complex economic point for the listening public, but on the other hand, at midday it's just a gossip fest and then program after program peppered with leading questions followed by soundbite answers. Sorry, but independent investors just have to do their own due diligence. The new Jim Cramer, btw, has tried to tone down and deliver some discipline. Not bad at all, except that he continues to blow hot and cold on the market depending on its close.

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