Saturday, March 14, 2009

Jon Stewart pwns Jim Cramer

If you missed Daily Show Thursday night (and have been living under a rock since then), then you missed Jon Stewart at his best. He dominated CNBC's Jim Cramer in a well-prepared and bitingly sarcastic interview. The whole interview is available in three parts here.

Personally, I think Cramer acted like a dog with his tail between his legs in Stewart's presence. He even started off the interview kissing Stewart's ass, stating how he was a "big fan of the show."

Stewart had some good points regarding the subprime mortgage crisis and who should be to blame for putting us all in the situation we're all in now. Namely, the a-holes who tried to gamble on packaging high risks loans all together instead of diversifying with lower risk loans. He also caught Cramer in some flat-out lies. Seriously, didn't someone warn him that Stewart would be coming at him with guns blazing? I feel like CNBC just told Cramer to go on the Daily Show, kiss ass, and hope for forgiveness from Stewart.

This interview is great in that (1) it proves that Daily Show is not just dependent on being the comedic counterpoint to the Bush Administration and that it can still be funny and relevant in the Obama Nirvana; and (2) it shows just how powerful Jon Stewart has made the Daily Show. I mean, does anyone remember the Daily Show with Craig Kilborn?

Stewart's smack down has apparently led to a ratings dip for CNBC. Interestingly though, it seems to have led to a slight rise in college-age kids (who likely get all their news from the Daily Show) tuning into Cramer's Mad Money. Even more interestingly, it appears that MSNBC producers were asked to not highlight the interview on Friday. Because, yeah, let's just forget it happened and maybe it will go away.


Blogger tj said...

I especially like your point #1. I think the Daily Show has greatly improved without Bush as its easy target. The true evidence of Stewart's comedic genius has emerged, which was apparently lost among his bitching and whining over the past years.

I half wrote a post about comedians in a post-Bush era. I was about ready to publish it when Stewart radically became more relevant in a way beyond comedy (thus killing the post).

To summarize, I believe other comedians have not made the transition as easily:

Letterman has apparently gone a bit crazy - I've completely lost any ability to follow his incoherent dribble these days (what's with Shaffer?!?).

Colbert (outside of a rather amusing bit about herpes and beer pong) has gone stale, as his bit comedy has lost relevance and its sting.

Leno and Conan never really relied as much on Bush comedy (according to my non-empirical assessment) so they haven't been hit as hard.

Your thoughts?

3/15/2009 12:35 AM  
Blogger caley said...

I agree in general that lots of politically oriented comedians are going to have a tough time in the post-Bush era and that Stewart is leading the way in maintaining relevance. But I guess one might actually argue that Daily Show's relevance in this particular situation (the subprime crisis) could sort of be considered just left over issues from the Bush Administration (i.e. if and when Obama fixes Bush's gaffes, there might not be anything to make fun of anymore).

But I also think Daily Show has been finding ways to make fun of the Obama Administration (although, these are never really as caustic as they were in the Bush Era).

Also, there are always going to be conservatives to make fun of. I mean, Bush is gone, so now you've got liberal comedians focusing on Limbaugh and such.

But Stewart is doing something more than just finding ways to joke in the post-Bush Era. He's using the Daily Show as an extremely powerful soap box from which to wield his popular power. It's amazing and extremely annoying to people who think of themselves as "professionals" in the television news media realm (Cramer, and especially Tucker Carlson).

Instead of being content as comedic relief, he's using the Daily Show to keep the regular news media accountable. I get the sense that this Cramer interview was one of the more powerful instances of that type of "policing the news media."

I could be dead wrong, but I think there is going to be a ripple effect from this interview. Stewart has just shown the big networks that he is a force to be reckoned with. I'm very interested to see how things play out from here on. I mean, the rumors that MSNBC producers decided to not talk about the interview is huge. And they've got to know (if those rumors are true) that they're not going to get away with it. Stewart will just call them out on it Monday night. And if he does have the power I think he's got, that could turn into lower ratings (therefore less revenue) for those networks.

Also, wtf is up with Jimmy Fallon? I haven't tuned in (or more accurately, I haven't DVRed) to his show since last week because it was so awkwardly terrible. Is he going to find his niche or what?

3/15/2009 2:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Armen,

How about a post to give voice to Boalt alums who have been laid off.

3/15/2009 3:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stewart's smackdown led (not lead) in the last paragraph.

3/15/2009 10:01 AM  
Blogger caley said...

Thank you 10:01. Error has been corrected to prevent others from experiencing the pain of trying to read "has apparently lead to a." And I admit, that was pretty blatant, especially given that I got it correct in the very next sentence.

3/15/2009 11:40 AM  
Blogger tj said...

I forgot to add the worst offeder to my list! Bill Maher was a whiny bitch before - filling up his entire show complaining about Bush. These days he just complains about how bad Bush WAS. Geeze you pathetic sack, get some new material or face further irrelevancy. And, sorry, Religilous was awful and you ain't no Michael Moore.

3/15/2009 1:18 PM  
Blogger Toney said...

I don't know TJ, Bill Maher is still pretty damn funny. He's on tour right now with Ann Coulter (they've often debated in the past), and the only material she has is arguing about how good Bush was. So yeah, give me Maher's comedy anytime. And the fact of the matter is that Bush had a pretty major say in most of the things that suck in this country right now. You can't expect people to forgive him 2 months after he leaves office. This is a healing process, and is completely normal. Now, if the exclusive focus on Bush goes longer than year, that's another story.

And Colbert isn't stale, though he also isn't a parody of Bush, but rather of Bill O'Reilly and the rest of the right wing news media. Because they have more to bitch about (Obama being president, Democrats dominating Congress, the incredible irrelevance of the GOP), Colbert has had even more material to work with. So IMO, he's actually gotten funnier.

3/15/2009 1:26 PM  
Blogger caley said...

As far as Colbert goes, I think he's at his best when injecting his character into the national scene through brute force (i.e. getting a portrait of himself in the bathroom entrance of the Smithsonian, attempting to run for President in South Carolina only, getting celebrities to wear Wriststrong bracelets).

I assume he can still keep up those types of hilarious shenanigans* regardless of what's going on in the world.

*"Hey Farva, what's the name of that restaurant you like with all the goofy shit on the walls and the mozzarella sticks?"

3/15/2009 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find myself disagreeing with the common "Stewart ROCKED Cramer; it was Awesome!" sentiment.

Honestly, I think Stewart came off a little self-righteous. I also think that anyone who takes financial advice from someone who yells, jumps around like a monkey, throws toys, and blasts sound effects on his show has made their own bed.

Not that Cramer is cool guy; I think he's definitely a pretty scummy person. But, as he said, he runs an entertainment show.

CNBC, on the other hand, definitely deserves to be called out on and derided for its poor financial reporting--and props to the Daily Show for doing that.

However, Cramer himself is a poor focal point for this national catharsis.

3/15/2009 2:43 PM  
Blogger caley said...

I'm not completely sure Cramer is a poor focal point if the issue we're focusing on is irresponsibility of "news" networks.

You can't just allow Cramer off the hook because he says he runs an entertainment show. This has been the main reason Stewart has been attacking these shows since the Crossfire situation. These shows are not airing on MTV, VH1, or Comedy Central. They are airing on channels that flout themselves as reputable news networks. Allowing substandard reporting tactics on such a network is irresponsible at best, and can lead to serious problems (see, e.g., the mess we're in now).

If the reason we're in this economic crisis right now is because so many people were too complacent to identify and remedy the subprime mortgage crisis earlier, then we need our news agencies keeping on the ball to ensure that such complacency does not reemerge.

We cannot allow Cramer and other reporters to take what CEOs say at face value, report on that information, and then create false beliefs about the market.

3/15/2009 3:30 PM  
Blogger caley said...

Just one qualification, I don't mean to argue that the news networks are singularly responsible for the economic downturn. I'm more just highlighting the fact that better investigation into the situation before the bubble popped might have prevented us from getting where we are now.

Looking to the future, I'd like to see the news networks take this proactive role in the economy.

3/15/2009 3:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as we look for singular scapegoats, let's remember that when people appeared before Congress to warn that we (government, business, and consumers, all working together) had created a bubble economy, they were derided.

"as scarce as truth is, the supply always exceeds the demand." josh billings

3/15/2009 5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: the future of TDS in the post-Bush era, as Caley said, Stewart always has other conservatives to make fun of. It seems to me TDS has always derived a big part of its humor not just from mocking politicians, but mocking the media. Witness the hokey graphics, the silly titles everyone has ("Senior Black Correspondent"), etc.

Colbert, without Bush in the White House, has been reduced to mocking conservative whining about Obama, though he has done some f-ing hilarious stuff about Glenn Beck lately.

I felt Stewart's grilling of Cramer was good but a little unfocussed, though it is very hard to do a live interview of that sort and try to keep things on track. Stewart seemed unsure who he was targetting, or else got cold feet when he had the man in front of him. First it wasn't "about" Cramer, then he's playing Cramer's video admissions of malfeasance, then it's "not about" him again. Still, light years ahead of what anyone else has done. And, sometimes you have to be satisfied with half a loaf.

3/15/2009 6:40 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

3:31, I'm trying to put some coherent thoughts together without running afoul of obvious roadblocks. I'll have something to say at the end of the month hopefully.

As for Stewart, my reaction the night of the interview, and my reaction since is not about CNBC, Jim Cramer, comedy, or anything else, but that it took Jon Stewart to ask serious questions. He came of smug? Well duh. But the bigger question is, why aren't any of the drones on CNN or the other news networks coming off smug? Whatever your pet issue, I really cannot remember a time when TV news was this hard hitting. It's almost unimaginable in large part because in the ratings-driven environment, no network would last if it they lost access to A-list guests. As a result, for almost the entirety of my adult life, I've had to rely on written sources for in depth coverage of anything of consequence. Sad.

Now time to watch the Roast of Larry the Cable Guy.

3/15/2009 10:05 PM  
Blogger Laura said...


Seems like if alums want to fill people in on what's going on with them re: the legal market that a post doesn't doesn't really need to wait until you have your thoughts together (whole post can be "layoffs: discuss!"). I'm interested to hear whatever people are willing to share.

If you have more to post later, then great. It's not as if this is the kind of topic anyone could accuse of not deserving multiple posts.

3/16/2009 12:28 PM  

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