Cramer/Stewart, The Right, The Wrong, and Democratic Loyalty.

Mar 13 2009 Published by under Bipartisan, Flaming Small-Minded Stupidity

(Fair warning: I usually keep the language clean in this blog, but I didn't manage it this time. Below the fold may be NSFW.)

OK, I admit it. I've still got last night's Jon Stewart CNBC Massacre (with full orchestration and five part harmony) stuck in my mind. I think that's going to be the case for at least a little longer, because I'm still trying to wrap my mind around some of the things I've learned over the course of the whole mess.

One of the (several) things I keep coming back to is just what some of the criticism of last nights production demonstrates. Some critics follow the example set by this schmeckle who decided to try the proven "if I lie hard enough and long enough, I can make something else have happened" strategy. Other criticism reprised the whole "how dare the comedian get serious" stratagem that Tucker Carlson used to such devastating effect back in 2004. That garbage is predictable. Stewart is a comedian, calls himself a comedian, says that his own show isn't fair, and suggests that - just maybe - it would be nice if the real journalists did a better job at covering the news than he does. Given all that, it's not a surprise that people are going to get outraged that Jon Stewart is a comedian and has a show that's not entirely fair.

It's not the predictable nonsense that's got me thinking. Actually, the thing that's got me thinking the most came from a Tweet that Joe DoucheScarborough sent last night:

Cramer just sat there and took his medicine. He's clearly shaken that his fellow Democrats have turned on him.

He went on to clarify that a little later:

I am quoting Cramer. He is a loyal Democrat and it depresses him to be reviled by his political allies.

What I can't figure out is why Scarborough - or Cramer - would expect anything else.

To be honest, the fact that Scarborough apparently doesn't think that "party loyalty" is a stupid reason to lay off criticism says a hell of a lot about Scarborough and the Republicans. None of it's good.

The most widely quoted part of last night's Cramer/Stewart interview came when Stewart got very serious with Cramer:

I understand you want to make finance entertaining, but it's not a fucking game. And I ... when I watch that... I can't tell you how angry that makes me.

Trade a word or two, and that sums up just how I feel about the "loyal Democrat" argument. This isn't a fucking game. The Democrats and Republicans aren't running up and down a field in uniforms, they're not throwing a ball through a hoop, and everyone doesn't get to go down to the locker room and take a shower at the end of the day. This isn't supposed to be about beating the other guys. It's supposed to be about what's best for the country.

We aren't supposed to support everyone who claims to be on our "team". That's sports section bullshit. We're supposed to support politicians - and commentators - when we think they're right. When we think they're wrong, we need to make our opposition known. Period.

I'm happy - sincerely happy - that Cramer is on the right side of the argument when it comes to things like taxes. I really do mean that. But that's no reason to give him a pass on areas where he's wrong. Unfortunately, he went out this week and made himself the shining example of everything that's been wrong with financial reporting - and then Stewart took a video of Cramer from a couple of years ago and - legitimately - turned him into a shining example of everything that's wrong about short-term speculation.

Supporting Obama doesn't buy him a pass on that.

Look, like a number of others, I give Cramer a lot of credit for going on Stewart's show. Cramer's a smart enough guy that he had to know that his appearance was unlikely to end well, and even when things turned out to be a lot harsher than he may have anticipated, he still managed to conduct himself with a hell of a lot more class than Tucker "please won't everyone just forget about my bowties" Carlson did. He's also not the worst example of the problems that are out there. But the notion that he should be spared because he's "on the right team" is the kind of pernicious bullshit that makes everyone losers.

29 responses so far

  • A-fucking-men, brother! The fact that Republicanism entails total ethical and pragmatic depravity does not imply that being a Democrat implies ethical and pragmatic probity.
    But I think you are missing the boat on Scarborough's motives and strategy. He is part of a high-level right-wing program designed to hammer on the idea that it was "Democrats" who destroyed the economy. The actual content of what he is saying is meaningless. What matters is that he says the words "Democrats" and "Democratic Party" as often as possible in close proximity to "economic crisis". It is just word salad designed to associate those concepts. This is the kind of propaganda that right-wing scumbags like Scarborough excel at.

  • fred says:

    you people are amazing. freaking weird. dudes, the deal here is this: cramer is a dem. he's an obama supporter. and if he steps out of line, actually analyzing the DEAR LEADERS policies for what they are, namely, anti-business, anti-job growth, anti-capitalism, and anti-making any money, and anti-better future for your kids, that person whoever they are are:
    attacked
    marginalized
    personally attacked
    smeared
    mocked
    intimidated
    fill in your own here....
    thats the creepy part, guys. open your eyes. theres more going on here than one guy talking about another guy, 2 dudes fighting, loyalty to some stupid of-the-moment political parties. its about a cult of personality. its about silencing dissent. its about shouting down logic and debate; with idiocy. with blind idolitry. without critical thinking. and THAT fellas IS anti-american. and scary. and has been done before. many times on this planet; just not here. and you know how that always ends. wake up. look whats happening. is there an active free press in this country? is it actively questioning the policies of this government that works for US? nope. it is assisting in denouncing and ending debate; before it is allowed to begin. its bad. its not what makes for a free scoiety. its not what we should tolerate in this country. and when you think about it...it WHY this country was founded. to rid ourselves of that. funny huh?

  • Dizzlski says:

    fred,
    The Stewart/Cramer issue had nothing to do with political ideology, it was about journalistic integrity.

  • NJ says:

    DEAR LEADERS policies for what they are, namely, anti-business, anti-job growth, anti-capitalism, and anti-making any money, and anti-better future for your kids

    Freddy...
    Your mom is calling. She says you left your tinfoil hat at home, and you better come get it right this minute.

  • fred says:

    dizz, if i understand the argument. you are saying then that stewart, a comedian, has it (JI)? and a guy with an MBA who has been reporting on business news for 30 years, ran his own hedge fund, made millions of dollars who is commenting on how to make millions of dollars, what does and does not destroy or create capital, and job creation, and how entrepreneurs respond to tax policy and government intervention and oversight, and the pros and cons of governemnt use of and direction of capital,d oes NOT have JI. wow. intersting take. but i think there's some disconnect there huh?
    a self-righeous self-hating-jew (hence the name change)partisan dork with a staff of writers who fancies himself a populist man of the people who makes funny faces and fart noises and often times proclaims thats all he really does and in the interview basically said he's snake oil salesman, self proclaimed so i guess that makes it ok, thinks that he knows all about how the ecnomoy works. AND when cramer says that people he trusted lied to him, stewert then says you lied to us, seemingly not to underastand the differenc between deceiving and being decieved, i mean, come on. it was really sad to watch. thats integrity. in that universe where spock has the beard, yeah. good point.

  • HAHAHAHAH!!! We've got a live one in the wild!
    Poor fred. It really is painful when your face is rubbed in all the lies you've believed for decades , isn't it?
    Speaking of which, where the fuck's Zelinsky? He oughta be shilling for right-wing bullshit "moderation"!

  • llewelly says:

    When we think they're wrong, we need to make our opposition wrong.

    What on earth does this sentence mean? I've tried to wrap my head around it, but I can't. If you had written something like:

    When we think they're wrong, we need to make our opposition known.

    Then it would make sense, but as it is I don't really know what you meant.

  • Coturnix says:

    Yes, Stewart has it, and Cramer is a crook like the rest of them greedy rightwing Wall-Street moneygrabbers who, aided by Republican-written "laws" over the past 30 years, and refusal of the MSM to point out that the economic "theories" of the GOP are about as realistic as Creationism, brought this crap on all of us.

  • Mike Dunford says:

    @llewlly (#7): That is in fact what I meant to write (and thought I had written). It's fixed now. Thanks.
    @Fred (#2):

    loyalty to some stupid of-the-moment political parties. its about a cult of personality. its about silencing dissent. its about shouting down logic and debate; with idiocy. with blind idolitry. without critical thinking

    Believe it or not, I did not find out exactly how critical Cramer had been until after I saw the interview with Stewart. Stewart, you will note, barely brought up that at all, and gave Cramer plenty of opportunity to explain his position.
    More to the point, I don't care that Cramer was critical of Obama recently, because that has nothing to do with the topic of Stewart's basic complaint: the shitty financial cheerleading that CNBC was passing off as expertise you should trust. Hell, Cramer could be right about Obama now, and that still wouldn't change the fact that he's been part of the problem.

    its about shouting down logic and debate; with idiocy. with blind idolitry. without critical thinking. and THAT fellas IS anti-american. and scary.

    There's the part where you really pissed me off. After 9/11, and for quite a few years after that, everyone on the left was told that criticizing the president was un-american. Now you want to try and get me to buy the idea that it's un-American for someone who is not part of the government to criticize someone else - also not part of the government - for their criticism of the President? Really?? I'm sorry, but wasn't that how Fox News made most of their money from early 2001 until late January?
    @Fred (#5):

    you are saying then that stewart, a comedian, has it (JI)? and a guy with an MBA who has been reporting on business news for 30 years, ran his own hedge fund, made millions of dollars who is commenting on how to make millions of dollars, what does and does not destroy or create capital, and job creation, and how entrepreneurs respond to tax policy and government intervention and oversight, and the pros and cons of governemnt use of and direction of capital,d oes NOT have JI.

    Yes.
    And - by the way - that's exactly what's wrong with this entire situation. Jim Cramer - the man with hedge fund experience, who knew both how to manipulate a market and that things like that happen - took the word of CEOs and past colleagues. He didn't even try to find out if they were trying to pull a fast one. And - and this is the biggie - damn near nobody else at CNBC did either.
    Stewart, who is not a journalist by trade, had the guts to stand up and say, "hey, you're the press, you should be reporting on things." I seriously doubt that the framers stuck the press in the 1st Amendment because they wanted to make sure that we're fucking entertained. Like it or not, they've got a responsibility that they're supposed to be taking seriously.
    To the best of my knowledge there's nobody who thinks that Jon Stewart should be more credible, or have more journalistic integrity, than Cramer does. And that includes Stewart.

  • "...thinks that he knows all about how the ecnomoy works."
    *facepalm*
    Is it too much to ask that the tinfoil hat brigade actually, you know, be familiar with the events in question before bloviating?

  • Alan says:

    Quote1:"To be honest, the fact that Scarborough apparently doesn't think that "party loyalty" is a stupid reason to lay off criticism says a hell of a lot about Scarborough and the Republicans. None of it's good."
    Quote2:"The Democrats and Republicans aren't running up and down a field in uniforms, they're not throwing a ball through a hoop, and everyone doesn't get to go down to the locker room and take a shower at the end of the day. This isn't supposed to be about beating the other guys."
    Take this as critsisim from someone on "your side" or take it as a hit from "the enemy", I don't rally care. What I care about is that I come to "science blogs" looking for smart, informed people who can go longer than a couple of paragraphs without planting both feet firmly in their mouth. Unfortunately I'm still looking.

  • toby says:

    fred said:
    "actually analyzing the DEAR LEADERS policies for what they are, namely, anti-business, anti-job growth, anti-capitalism, and anti-making any money, and anti-better future for your kids..."
    This is bullshit, you are so keen on venting your frustration at a lost election, you just stopped listening.
    Stewart attacked CNBC for stuff it did last year, before the election. Like most financial journalism, CNBC journalists became shills for corrupt CEOs and a rotten financial system. Stewart just directed everyone's gaze to an arrogant Emperor trying to convince us he was not naked. He gave us a lot of laughs as well.
    Get over it.

  • iRobot says:

    1)Alan, you are a tool! Everyone who comes to this blog and doesn't like what they read whines about how its supposed to be some highfalutin science blog and how the writer is bringing everything down into the mud. Dont read it if you don't like it.
    2) Fred, how can you accuse any one of "anti-business, anti-job growth, anti-capitalism, and anti-making any money, and anti-better future for your kids"? Have you seen what republicanism has done to this country? The debt, the homeless children, the loss of jobs to china, the crumbling infrastructure, loss of healthcare and pensions... I could go on and on. Just because the R's economic policies are great for CEO's doesnt mean that they are good for the rest of us.

  • Ben says:

    Over at TPM, they make an interesting point about CNBC's place in the NBC family of channels. Josh Marshall suggests that CNBC is not part of the NBC news division (as MSNBC is), but is part of the cable broadcasting division (like the Bravo channel). He logically suggests that this leads to a different set of journalistic standards and focus for the network. He has more to say and it certainly informs this discussion about CNBC "journalists." Here is the URL.
    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2009/03/about_cnbc.php

  • jay says:

    This is NOT about parties, it's about stupid behavior, poor analysis and dishonesty. And it has very little to do with what the goverment could or could not do; though it's predictable that the government lovers here truly seem to believe that Congress, who can't keep their own house in order would somehow through the magic of 'regulation' have prevented what a lot of experts (even in academia) did not see.
    What the government needs to do (and this is recognized across the political spectrum, including the "evil" Republicans) is prosecute fraud.

  • derwood says:

    " the deal here is this: cramer is a dem. he's an obama supporter. and if he steps out of line, actually analyzing the DEAR LEADERS policies for what they are, namely, anti-business, anti-job growth, anti-capitalism, and anti-making any money, and anti-better future for your kids, that person whoever they are are: "
    Boy, talk about arguing up the wrong tree.
    This wingnut doesn't even know WHY Stewart took him and CNBC to task! You're just a walking republibot talking-point regurgitator.

  • John Stewart has a good point. Why are we still taking the advice of those who admitted that they had no clue about the largest economic crisis since the Great Depression? You want the truth about the US economy check these reports by Med Yones and Peter Schiff, the economic gurus who predicted the US economic crisis and warned the US government and media, but they were either ignored or made fun of.
    Peter Schiff on CNBC
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2I0QN-FYkp
    Med Yones on
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUS174825+14-Jan-2009+PRN20090114
    http://www.ceoqmagazine.com/2009Q1/economics/useconomicrisis/index.htm

  • PhisioProf, love you too. I didn't comment because I had nothing substantial to say about this post other than general agreement with Mike's remarks. Some of us don't go out of our way to comment on every thread and certainly don't go out of our way to insult people who aren't even commenting on a given thread simply because they disagree with what we have to say.
    I suppose though while I'm bothering to comment I will make a few remarks about what Fred has said: First, journalists aren't supposed to simply parrot what people tell them. I was lied to is not an acceptable excuse. Related to that, much of Cramer's analysis was simply wrong. And it was wrong repeatedly. He never stopped and said "hmm, maybe I shouldn't just take what the executives say for granted when what they are saying is exactly what they'd say if they were looking out for their own interests." Fred, I strongly suggest you look at the actual segments that Steward did. Notice they aren't initially even about Cramer. They are about the CNBC as a whole. He only started going after Cramer when Cramer took the criticism as personally directed against him. There's no retaliation here for Cramer's political views. Cramer has made himself a target by being an idiot.

  • abb3w says:

    Mike Dunford::

    What I can't figure out is why Scarborough - or Cramer - would expect anything else. To be honest, the fact that Scarborough apparently doesn't think that "party loyalty" is a stupid reason to lay off criticism says a hell of a lot about Scarborough and the Republicans.

    See Haidt 2007 (10.1007/s11211-007-0034-z); and yes, it does say a lot... but nothing very surprising, based on op cit.

  • Alan says:

    iRobot wrote: "1)Alan, you are a tool! Everyone who comes to this blog and doesn't like what they read whines about how its supposed to be some highfalutin science blog and how the writer is bringing everything down into the mud. Dont read it if you don't like it."
    First up tools are at least useful.
    Second, the category at the top says "bipartisan".
    Third, I didn't say or imply the writer is "bringing everything down in the mud", in fact he can't since politics has been stuck in the mud since it's inception.
    What I said is that he put his foot in his mouth, something that Stewart avoided with great style and wit. If you don't like repubs policys fine, neither do I, but let's not be hypocritical and pretend this isn't a partisan blog.
    And I'm sorry but I can't see how one would not expect to find science in something entitled "science blogs", highfalutin or otherwise. Maybe you "don't read what you don't like" when it comes to politics and science but did it ever occur to you that might be a large part of your problem in a nutshell...

  • Doug Suretow says:

    I have been a regular watcher of both shows for several years. Stewart
    s criticisms of CNBC have some merit, but if he is looking for scapegoats for the current financial crisis, CNBC doesn't even make a top twenty list.
    He is way off the mark making Cramer the face of this. Cramer's show is much like Stewart's: he employs over the top humor to deliver messages that are dead serious and highly informative.
    Flaying Cramer for wrong calls on a couple of stocks merely reveals Stewart's total ignorance of financial markets and stock investing. Cramer's past as a hedge fund manager is precisely what makes him a valuable advisor. It's his practical experience that make him worth listening to versus all other available financial media pundits.
    By the way, this financial crisis was not caused by stock market manipulators. It is true that short sellling stock manipulators are exacerbating it now, but Cramer has been out front - virtually alone - in calling them out for over 6 months.
    Stewart showed incredible ignorance and lack of research on his topic in scapegoating and smearing Cramer on his program. He even did a disservice to his own cause, which I sympathize with.
    I was stunned at Cramer's inability to articulate this to the viewers of Comedy Central.

  • He is way off the mark making Cramer the face of this. Cramer's show is much like Stewart's: he employs over the top humor to deliver messages that are dead serious and highly informative.
    Nice try, but no. Cramer was and is a market manipulator who has always used his show to float "information" for the purpose of benefiting the trading activities of his family and friends.

  • Lee says:

    Stewart's basic message on journalism has been:
    'People trust my journalism more than yours. That isn't because I'm a great journalist - I'm a frickin' comedian. But people trust me more than they trust you, and you guys are the journalists - maybe you should start doing your fucking job!'
    Maybe Stewert is right when he points out that a journalist, confronted with a fund owner reporting 30% returns in an overall dismal market, might better ask him how the fuck he's doing it and hew we can trust it, rather than cheerleading and then asking him what it fucking feels like to be a billionaire?
    Maybe Stewart was getting at something important when he said that he wanted Cramer the informed, experienced 'journalist' with insider access and knowledge of the scams these guys get up to, to protect us all from Cramer the insider who we saw discussing how he illegally manipulated stocks in ways that hurt the market and the individual investor, but made him a fortune?

  • Alan says:

    Re Lee #23. Bingo!

  • Alan says:

    Mark @ #19; Except for the phrase "and the republicans" your article, is informative and well written. Stewart is careful and at his best when he takes the side of reason. This is all of course my subjective reasoning.
    Anyway pay no mind to a grupy old fart. Thanks for the link, I have some lighter reading that never the less IMHO has a profound message or two.

  • Alan says:

    Sorry, Mike 😮

  • Alan says:

    No problem, in fact no need. 😮

  • Alan says:

    WTF - cancel last msg...hick!

  • konrad_arflane says:

    He is way off the mark making Cramer the face of this.

    Stewart didn't make Cramer the face of this. Cramer made Cramer the face of this. The whole brouhaha was originally over a Daily Show segment that was about CNBC in general and Rick Santelli in particular. It was Cramer who felt unfairly singled out despite the fact that he wasn't, in fact, singled out, and made an issue of it.