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CNBC and Intellectual Honesty : Inthon

Before the confrontation gets swept down the memory hole, I have a few comments on the Jon Stewart/Jim Cramer dustup.

For those that witnessed the confrontation between Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer, it was obvious who emerged victorious:  Jon Stewart.

While Stewart did not champion a cause or idea and could not clearly articulate why things are going haywire, he was definitely conscious enough to recognize that someone like Jim Cramer is a complete moron who doesn’t know what he’s talking about: specifically, his claim of “liking” Bear Stearns when it was trading the $60’s.  Stewart was smart enough to have hard video evidence proving this, which won him credibility early in the interview.

The video evidence was devastating.  In it, Cramer talked about ways to engage in market manipulation and ways to deceive regulators.  His attempts to be “part of the solution” seemed laughable and so completely fabricated that it’s amazing he stuck with that line until the end.


The most important point about the interview was the underlying message that it carried.  The message is:  Don’t rely on others to tell you what is important.

Another way of saying that is:  Don’t rely on the “experts” to tell you what is important.  Have the courage to acknowledge your own ignorance, form your own opinions and cultivate your own mindset.  If the people that were watching Cramer spent equal time reading Mish or Charles Hugh Smith, they would likely have a different set of beliefs than those of the talking heads at CNBC.

As the interview progressed, Stewart seemed agitated that CNBC is “trusted” to provide people with news and it let the common man down.  He seemed upset that the anchors on CNBC didn’t do their job to shed light on ongoing scams and problems like excessive leverage, excessive compensation and enormous conflicts of interest.

While I agree that is disappointing, is that really a surprise to anyone?  Are there really people who rely on TV personalities to make important decisions for them?  He who pays the piper calls the tune.  CNBC’s advertisers are the ones that ultimately control what programming gets aired and what types of shows are the most profitable.

If you follow the money, it’s easy to see that the audience needs to be entertained, have their worldviews validated and brought back for more.  Bogging viewers down with “complicated” or negative pieces about an eventual meltdown would turn viewers off, or worse, force them to consult other sources of information to generate a more accurate model of reality.  This would be terrible for ratings and advertising.  CNBC wants to be the one-stop shop for financial news.

Fluff reporting and bogus “journalism” aren’t limited to CNBC.  CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, FoxNews and others all follow suit.  It’s simply the business model.  The truth is rarely scooped in a 22 minute show + commercials.  The truth can be ascertained by reading the best arguments from both sides of the equation.  This involves reading what you disagree with and then thinking about it.  That process is definitely not “made for tv” material.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart does a great job of pointing out glaring hypocrisies and using the magic of the web and internet to generate classic “gotcha” moments.  The show is truly close to my heart.  Watching it lets me know there are other people out there who don’t take politicians or experts too seriously.

Takeaway:  The world is filled with salesman and opacity.  This is unavoidable.  Getting blindsided by reality isn’t.  Expose yourself to the most articulate and thoughtful people you can find on both sides of an argument and you can gain a better understanding of the truth.

Boo-yah!

For more on financial chicanery, read here

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