Stewart Vs. Cramer: Real Journalism for a Change March 15, 2009Posted by Dwight Furrow in Current Events, Dwight Furrow's Posts.
Tags: celebrity journalism, CNBC, corruption in the news, Jim Cramer, Jon Stewart
Watching Jon Stewart’s take down of Jim Cramer last week was fascinating. I’m not sure what Jim Cramer thought he was getting into when he appeared on the show, but it apparently wasn’t the sober, pointed unveiling of corruption in the news business that Stewart managed to pull off.
Cramer’s “whipped puppy” act revealed the weakness of the kind of “journalism” he does. CNBC does not do investigative journalism. Their reporters ask CEO’s how their companies are doing, the CEO’s say they’re doing fine, and the “journalist” recommends the public buy their stock. The viewer is led to believe that they are getting real journalism. It is sad that it takes a fake comedy news show to enlighten people about what is really going on.
Of course, if Cramer were a real journalist who did his job, top CEO’s would not talk to him. The reason why much journalism consists of innocuous statements and “he said, she said” reporting is because, if they really did investigations, the “very important people” would stop taking their calls. Celebrity “journalists” are paid enormous salaries, ostensibly, to understand economics or politics. But they mistakenly think that having access to people (or their PR staff ) will give them some special insight into what is going on. The result is corruption and complicity; not journalism.
Most of what the public needs to know can be found in reports and other sources of data, tracking down and encouraging whistleblowers, and the careful scrutiny over time of what the main players do, not what they say. But that takes a lot of legwork and careful analysis over an extended period of time. Newspapers no longer have the resources to do it, and cable news, concerned only with ratings, has no incentive to do it.
I have no thoughts on how the news business should be restructured to incentivize real news gathering. But our democracy depends on finding an answer.