While this was incredibly satisfying, I felt uneasy about it afterwards.
Jon Stewart, in the video posted above, essentially says that if networks such as CNBC did their jobs, i.e. focused on reporting, interviewing, and exhaustive fact-checking, those networks could serve as great tools for illumination. Instead, those networks have dropped the ball. Jon Stewart and the staff of The Daily Show make this point routinely: many news outlets provide little news and plenty of entertainment.
I agree with that critique, and even Jim Cramer implicitly accepts it–to some extent–when he says that he wants to have an entertaining show. He wants to be taken seriously, he wants to be seen as professional, and he wants to entertain his audience. A professor I had once repeated the argument that “The media don’t sell us anything we don’t want to buy.” We want to buy CNBC and networks like it. I include myself in this. Though I love watching Stewart make Cramer as CNBC’s proxy squirm, at the same time I think that my satisfaction is complemented by my passivity.
When Jon Stewart essentially says he can go back to making poop jokes once cable news networks start serving the greater good, I think he knows that he will never go back to making poop jokes. Part of that is because there’s a strong market for CNBC. And nobody, including Stewart, can condemn the public for their consumption of this commentary-cum-journalism without seriously risking the loss of his audience. Now that’d be ballsy.