Today Deb Brown, Partner and Managing Director Strategic Development, has written the following special guest post.
That’s one of the now infamous sound bites from CNBC’s “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer as
Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” hammered him Thursday night. This show created a lot of buzz, which I’m sure has been a home-run for “The Daily Show’s” ratings, and many reporters called Stewart the clear “winner.” However, there’s one topic that I haven’t seen covered in the articles I’ve come across (although, admittedly, so much has been written on the topic that I might have missed it).
The topic I find the most interesting is how a show that’s on a comedy channel turned one of the supposedly most respected financial news networks in the country upside down. Now, I happen to be a fan of Jon Stewart’s and I think he’s very smart, but what does this say about CNBC and the experts we allegedly trust?
We know when we’re watching Jon Stewart that he is what he is– a comedian. And, to make sure we know, he’s on Comedy Central. But, how are viewers supposed to feel and act when Cramer is basically apologizing for CNBC’s mistakes (and there seemed to be quite a few mentioned Thursday night) while Stewart underscores “the gap between what CNBC advertises itself as and what it is.”
What does this say about not only Cramer’s reputation, but CNBC’s reputation as a whole? What does this say about journalism when Cramer hides behind the fact that he didn’t know someone was lying because he was a CEO or he was Cramer’s friend? The showdown may have ended at 11:30pm last Thursday night, but can it take Cramer’s show down with it? Or the cable network? It will be interesting to see if this just completely blows over or if this is the start of a serious reputation issue for CNBC. At last count, more than a thousand articles, blogs or TV segments wrote or aired segments about Cramer cowering under Stewart’s passionate attacks that “it’s not a (bleeping) game.”
But, come on… Stewart is a comedian. What kind of lasting damage could he possibly do?
We owe Jon Stewart a debt of gratitude for the Cramer interview. The true test will be to see what CNBC and Cramer do with the drubbing – can he ‘change” as he professed, or will they go back to the same old format and hope for the best? The irony is that they are trying to attract a younger audience, who Stewart has in his hip pocket. And that audience does care about the truth, not the gimmicks that Cramer uses. Next up? I’d love to see Stewart as a guest host on Meet the Press…that would be fun to see, and a true testament to his intellect, in addition to his wit.
“What kind of lasting damage could he [Jon Stewart] possibly do?”
In my opinion, it’s not what Stewart could do, but what CNBC already has done to itself.
I am one the ba-zallions out there who “twitter-blog-scaped” the Stewart v. CNBC event and though I can’t vouch for the others, my interest in the affair stems from a frustration I’ve had with CNBC, one that began long before Stewart took a swing at the network. Jon Stewart merely put a spotlight on the issues I had already found objectionable—CNBC’s lack of journalistic integrity and veracity—issues that the deepening financial crisis helped to expose and make much more obvious.
But in trying to determine the effect upon viewing loyalty, I suspect, to varying degrees, those like me have already drifted away; our belief in CNBC’s credibility and usefulness has previously been seriously eroded. These days, if someone like Jamie Diamond is speaking I’ll watch but… “Sorry, Maria Bartiromo. I no longer buy the ‘bull’ you, or the rest of your crew, are peddling.”
As to the effect by those who don’t have a bone to pick, I cannot say, but I do believe the shade Stewart has cast across the CNBC’s good name will matter to some extent, simply because it is based in a certain undeniable reality. It raises a serious level of credible doubt which is why some of it will stick to the wall, regardless of Stewart’s clever comedic shtick. But in the end, just how much of that will translate into an effect upon CNBC’s ratings, time will tell.