Yeah, So What If Everybody Else Has Already Weighed In

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.

One thought on “Yeah, So What If Everybody Else Has Already Weighed In”

  1. Stewart is famous for criticizing, not creating. It is much easier to critique than create. He made fun of Clinton, he made a career of making fun of Bush/Cheney. He critiqued Crossfire, rather than making his own alternative. Now he is using Cramer as a scapegoat for the ills of an ailing economy. This is attacking the symbolic small fish, the petty white-collar criminal, as opposed to the regulator (though in some cases they are one and the same). Activism through outrage is not as productive as lobbying, as making efforts to participate in a solution. Stewart jokingly said he would be out of a job when Bush left office, he might have foreseen his own downfall. So many rights were infringed, so many fingers put in pies, that America may have lost its sense of outrage. Then there is the issue of are enough Americans educated to be outraged about what has happened and to understand Stewart. Probably not. We need the gross oversimplifications and lies of CNBC to tell us what to believe, because none of us were left behind during our childhood education.

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