Just watched the showdown between Jim Cramer and Jon Stewart from The Daily Show on Comedy Central last night. It’s worth watching if you’ve kept up with the back and forth and the original CNBC takedown by Stewart (See Jon Stewart Throttles CNBC).
I enjoy Stewart’s ongoing crusade against network television. He has similarly gone after CNN (Crossfire) for being more about entertainment than about reporting. Stewart is clearly in a better position to throw stones as he can pull apart the mistakes (and there are many) of the mainstream media; however, he is doing hard reporting. That it gets the networks up in arms is a testament to Stewart’s progress.
Having said that, I think there is a bigger picture that is widely being overlooked. That is that media outlets usurp individual authority on a very subtle and sinister level. Many Americans outsource their own analysis and thinking to these talking heads on tv. Ultimately, it is the Americans who put their trust in Cramer, who go to Fox News for “facts” and come away with more opinions, and who fail to take responsibility for their own behaviors and perpetuate their own victimized demise.
So even as I like how Stewart is going after the networks, I think the fingers should be pointed elsewhere — at the American people.
It is for that reason that the below clip, which is from around the 17 / 18 minute mark of the Hulu/Yahoo TV 21 minute snippet from last night, is fantastic.
Secondarily, I think Cramer’s explanation of how they were essentially duped into thinking 35:1 leverage ratios were okay is spot-on — at least, it fits extremely well with the business cycle argument that excess credit leads to seemingly prosperous or booming times. These booms more-or-less trick investors/businessmen/entrepreneurs into believing that things are fundamentally sound and returns will continue going up in perpetuity. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and beyond the infomercials that try and tell you otherwise, we human beings should realize when someone is trying to sell us snake oil!
So here we have some actually solid television programming — on a tv station that is centered around laughs.
JON STEWART: Honest or not, in what world is a 35 to 1 leverage position sane?
CRAMER: The world that made you 30% year after year after year from 1999 to 2007 . . .
STEWART: But isn’t that part of the problem. Selling this idea that you don’t have to do anything. Any time you sell people the idea that, “Sit back and you’ll get 20% 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, “Hey man I’ll teach you how to be rich!” How is that different than an infomercial?