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There is Reality TV… and then there is Reality TV!

March 14, 2009
Stewart vs. CNBC and Cramer
Stewart vs. CNBC and Cramer

I am no fan of Jon Stewart’s political leanings, but on this one, I can’t help but applaud him about as loudly as I can. This great piece of reality TV and epic fight took most of the week to brew, and finally boiled over yesterday in Cramer vs. Not Cramer: The Reckoning.

I don’t know about your 401Ks, 529s and brokerage accounts. Mine suck and they suck big time. I hear [Ross Perot’s] giant sucking sounds. Except these are coming from my bank account. We need more outrage. We need more indignation. I’m generally skeptical but don’t necessarily believe in conspiracy theories. But these last few months take the cake. There are the select few that are in-the-know and have clearly been manipulating Wall Street. Evidently, a parallel market did emerge over the last decade with Wall Street firms – banks, insurance companies, mutual funds, hedge funds – all expanding into unregulated businesses, with no accountability and all kinds of off-balance-sheet items – derivatives, second derivatives and futures on $*^%(*&# options on 3rd derivatives.

Needless to say, one can’t help but feel sorry for Cramer. It wasn’t against him, it was  a rant against journalistic ethics… but lightning rod Cramer walked in to this dog-fight with eyes wide open. Jon Stewart’s closing piece (and exchange with Cramer) in yesterday’s video sums up the common man’s outrage quite well. Stewart to Cramer, almost frothing into camera:

Look it’s very easy to get on this after the fact. But, the measure of the man is… the measure of the network is … CNBC could act as … you know, no one is asking them to be a regulatory agency. But whose side are they on? They have to reconcile who [their] audience is? Is [it] the wall street traders doing it on a day-to-day basis; these short term traders? These guys are on a Sherman’s march [scorched earth philosophy] through their companies, financed by our 401Ks… and all the incentives of their companies were for short-term profit. And they burnt the house down with our money, and walked away rich as hell, and you guys knew what was going on.

My mother is 75 and she bought into the idea [that] long-term investing is the way to go. And guess what [Cramer, adding lamely: it didn’t work]. Maybe we can remove the financial expert and “in Cramer we trust” and start getting back to fundamentals in reporting as well, and I can go back to making fart noises and funny faces.”

Hopefully, it’s a wake up call to Cramer and “trusted” [sic] organizations like CNBC, and corrective actions take place. I, for one, am not holding my breath.

Here are the links to all shows, chronologically leading up to the grand finale:

Cramer vs. Not Cramer: Day of Reckoning

Cramer vs. Not Cramer: Day of Reckoning

7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 15, 2009 8:53 am

    I think you’re way off base. CNBC has plenty of viewpoints all day long. They are about the most unbiased network on TV.

    Cramer was a horrible defender of the network, I’ll give you that.

    How come you don’t require Stewart to take any personal responsibility for his so called 75 year old mothers losses in the stock market? Any one with any financial sense knows that 75 year old’s shouldn’t be invested in the market. Stewart is probably just crying because he was planning on spending that in her passing.

  2. March 15, 2009 10:08 am

    Ed – Any reasonable 75 year-old person would have money saved up in mutual funds and IRAs. Most of them use an annuity-like draw down model. I know a lot of people in that predicament, and it’s quite baseless to make a blanket statement that a 75 year-old should not be invested in the market. I would agree that as you get older, you should be invested in more conservative instruments. However, in this environment that was largely created by a few manipulating the many, there is no safe haven. The “buy and hold stocks for the long term” paradigm promoted by the insiders and media like CNBC, while they themselves traded on derivatives is what Stewart really took to task.

  3. March 15, 2009 10:33 am

    “in this environment that was largely created by a few manipulating the many, there is no safe haven”

    The herd always needs to find someone other than themselves to blame. Anyone who doesn’t understand the stock market shouldn’t be investing in it, regardless of their age. “Past performance is no guarantee of future returns” It’s printed on ever piece of paper one chooses to read before someone is allowed to by into the market. But, people like to excuse that as just formality, and prefer to believe the market always goes up. That’s the mentality of a fool. If you don’t understand it, and can’t stand to lose it, put it in a passbook savings account. The mentality that you can buy stocks and they will always goes up is no different than the people who took out ill advised ARMs on the notion that real estate always goes up. Both sets of people seem to need someone else to blame for their unwise financial decisions.

    Personally, I lost over 50% of my 401K funds over the past couple years. I blame noone but myself, and always knew it was possible I could lose it all. My decisions, my choices, noone elses. Take away my ability to lose money, and you’ll have to take away my ability to make money. I prefer to keep the choice to be manipulated if that’s how you and Jon Stewart need to see it.

  4. Atul Sharan permalink
    March 15, 2009 10:41 am

    Jim Cramer and CNBC are the ultimate 20th century self-promotional con-men. That ANYONE would disagree with this is a reflection of ordinary citizens’ gullibility and stupidity. Cramer should be in jail along with Maria Barto-whatever. They are the anti-thesis of journalistic integrity. Because if they are too ignorant to have known any of this then they should be un-employed. And if they had any inkling on what’s going on then they should be in jail. Oh, wait that sounds like our Congress.

  5. March 15, 2009 10:43 am

    Ramneek! I liked the ease of watching all 5 videos in order 1 more time! And yes, there should be more outrage, but there is this

  6. Nari Kannan permalink
    March 15, 2009 8:26 pm

    What should be of even more concern to us is Jim Cramer’s own words:

    CNBC’s Cramer boasts of manipulating markets

    Eliot Spitzer is Jim Cramer’s Harvard Buddy in his own words
    Jim Cramer on pal Spitzer: ‘Eliot screwed up’
    CNBC market analyst says he can no longer defend his Harvard buddy

    In my opinion, Eliot was busy throwing old ladies like Martha Stewart in Jail for Insider trading while nothing happened to Jim Cramer!

    Like the Church Lady used to say, “Isn’t That Special?”. 🙂 🙂

  7. March 19, 2009 12:44 pm

    Thomas Frank writes in an Opinion piece “Financial Journalists Fail Upward” for the Wall Street Journal:

    Mr. Cramer, for his part, had the forthrightness to confess his errors and admit his limitations. ‘I’m not Eric Sevareid. I’m not Edward R. Murrow,” he pleaded. “I’m a guy trying to do an entertainment show about business for people to watch.’

    But the larger problem won’t go away. And it’s not just a matter of people missing the biggest economic story of the last 20 years. It’s a matter of those who minimized it and those who blew it off because it didn’t fit their worldview continuing in their plum positions of authority. Mr. Stewart wasn’t rude enough to ask it, but over all his inquiries there hung the obvious question: Why do you still have a job, Mr. Cramer?

    Yes indeed – why do you still have a job Mr. Cramer?

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