Wrong. I mean, come on. Cramer will probably survive this but he has been chastened at the very least. The man acted like a little boy in the principal’s office caught red-handed cheating on a test. Cramer knows this is dead serious. Why doesn’t Stanley the critic?
I think we can all agree, at this late date, that writing about the crisis as if it were a game—picking over procedure and making it a horse race—is a mistake.
The LA Times’s Top of the Ticket blog also misses the big picture. Johanna Neuman writes a tone-deaf post that implies Stewart is just mad about his cash:
In fact, the Emmy-winning Stewart was so caustic — he suggesting Cramer should remove the designation “financial expert” from his pitch — it kind of makes you wonder how much he’s lost in the economic meltdown.
Actually, no it doesn’t. But since the LAT raises the point, I’d bet he’s probably down about like the rest of us in percentage terms. But that’s not what’s animating this. Everybody knows markets go up and down. It’s the corruption, the gaming of the system, and the failure of our institutions—including the press—that’s so infuriating.
The bubble that CNBC reporters and commentators are in is the same bubble that Wall Street is in. It’s the belief that The Market is God. If The Market doesn’t like it, it’s bad. It’s the fixation on short-term fluctuations. It’s the inability to understand that its views don’t represent America because it’s not a cross-section of the country. It’s not even close to being one.
Not all of the coverage was bad. Steve Johnson, for instance, at the Chicago Tribune gets it:
…Jon Stewart positioned himself as the thinking man’s Rick Santelli, as a guy who’s also mad as hell, but at the people who deserve the ire…
He kept the focus, almost unrelentingly, on the Wall Street gamesmen and women who turned bad mortgages into epic disaster and, to his credit, tried to indict Cramer and his colleagues en masse, and for failing a broader civic duty.
And here’s the core point of last night:
STEWART: I got to tell you, you know, I understand you want to make finance entertaining. But it’s not a fucking game. And—when I watch that, I get—I can’t tell you how angry that makes me.
Because what it says to me is: You all know. You all know what is going on. You know, you can draw a straight line from those shenanigans to the stuff that was being pulled at Bear and at AIG and all this derivatives market stuff…
These guys at these companies were on a Sherman’s march through their companies, financed by our 401k’s. And all of the incentives of their companies were for short-term profit. And they burned the fucking house down with our money. And they walked away rich as hell, and you guys knew that that was going on.
The amazing thing about last night’s show was that it showed that Cramer knows he was wrong. He knows CNBC (and much of the business press to a somewhat lesser extent) did abysmally. The guy clearly has a conscience. He’s capable of getting it, unlike some other folks who can’t see the world outside their bubble, like Santelli, whom Cramer ripped last night.
CRAMER: Our real sin, I think, was to believe that it could continue to go up a lot in the face of what you describe, which is a lot of borrowing, a lot of shenanigans. And I know I did.
The question is what is he—and what is his network—going to do about it?