Jim Cramer walked into Jon Stewart’s studio last night and instead of his trademark rolled-up sleeves, he might as well have been dressed like a clown, ready to take a big cream pie in the face, intended for CNBC rather than Cramer personally, although he is emblematic of his “news’ organization deserting its traditional 4th estate role for that of an “infotainmentmercial.” Cramer at least is somewhat honest about his role. Some other CNBC “reporters” have become clandestine right-wing cheerleaders.
I deserted CNBC as a serious source for financial news the day that Lehman went under last fall as I was watching CNBC’s “Squawk Box” and the show’s Cheerleader-in-Chief, Joe Kernan, made some sort of a statement criticizing the critics of Lehman’s leader, Dick Fuld, reminding them that poor Mr. Fuld had lost a fortune in the value of Lehman stock, conveniently neglecting he had extracted $484 million in salary, bonuses and stock options since 2000, failing to mention the equity value of Lehman had been built on spurious leverage. “Squawk Box” itself has turned into quick sound bites and chatty banter, and when they do have a serious interview, they superimpose sound effects, whooshing noises of charts, stock quotes, inundating the senses akin to watching a video game. Some of CNBCs confrontational interviews border on a financial version of the Jerry Springer show.
What a reversal of roles, the host of a comedy show becoming a spokesman for the questions the supposedly serious financial station failed to ask. Stewart was unrelenting in his probing and Cramer, to his credit, simply ate humble pie. I think he knows Stewart is right asking such questions as: Who is CNBCs audience, the Wall Street traders or us stooges trying to keep our 401ks afloat in a “fast trading” environment promoted by CNBCs endless litany of buy, sell, buy, etc.? How does this help us? Shouldn’t CNBC be asking the tough questions of Wall Street instead of gaming our pensions? Wasn’t CNBC, supposedly knowledgeable about financial matters, remiss in not recognizing that consequences of infinite leveraging would surely end in calamity? Isn’t there a measure of responsibility that goes with reporting, and the freedom of the press, especially for a news platform that purports to be serious? “Let’s face it, we’re both snake oil salesman, but at least we [the Comedy Channel] label our product as such.”