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On Stewart's CNBC Takedown

Jon Stewart’s take on CNBC, is a critical view of a huge news broadcasting company that has consistently been wrong in its alleged expertise. In order to repay Rick Santelli, who had been booked for the show to elaborate on his statements regarding homeowner bailouts, the Daily Show devoted about seven minutes of the show to reveal false optimistic predictions before and during the economic crash. The seven minutes also included, what Jon considered to be lighthearted interviews with top CEO’s that beat around the bush without asking any real questions considering the meltdown taking place.

Ultimately, the seven-minute clip showed a supposedly well-informed financial network projecting future trends and advising very poorly. I am wondering what’s wrong with this? Maybe the fact that if Jon Stewart and the Daily Show didn’t point this out to the American public, I highly doubt any one would have noticed. I’m sure this has dealt a fair blow to CNBC’s credibility as a financial network as it would have done to any other network that was reporting false information time and time again.

More and more people are beginning to watch shows like the Daily Show because it seems to be one of the only ways to obtain news via television that is not partly full of shit. Its roots go deeper than just the way the information is presented and the correctness of that information. In such a time where the economy is in chaos, people want more help from the government but they are highly critical of the way that help is implemented and distributed. When a comedian like Jon Stewart comes on and shows allegedly well respected professionals and reporters who are supposed to be giving sound financial advise to be not just slightly wrong but no where near the correct quadrant, it deals a real blow not only to that network but to the credibility of all news networks.

Jon had obviously invited Rick Santelli to be on the show in regards to his slight on homeowner bailouts while he was sitting in Wall Street complaining about the economic crisis. Santelli’s network, CNBC, cancelled, saying it was “time to move on to the next big story.” People say that CNBC and Rick Santelli should have known that the criticism was coming because of the similar situation that happened with Letterman who used the same tactics when senator John McCain cancelled an appointment on the late show. As with many of his guests I believe John would have made Santelli squirm through some of the humiliating material as he often does with Fox News Channel’s Bill O’ Reilly when he visits the show, but I believe Jon would have been affable as well. In any case, even if Rick Santelli were humiliated, he would have at least had the chance to defend himself and the network. It is often said that it is not the explosion of a bomb that is most terrible, it is the silence that follows, and without Santelli there to rebuttal the silence followed.

This clip really shows that a professional network that a lot of people trust may not be as trusty as they thought. In a society where most of the news is gained from television it really makes one question what can I believe. This is the exact reason that these so-called “fake news” programs are becoming so popular. They bring into light that which is often hidden by the respected and prestigious networks. Perhaps this is the exact reason why everyone feels so comfortable that the tid bits of news that one extracts from the Daily Show are reliable and fact based because it is often news on news that was reported falsely or incorrectly.

Another reason that I believe that the American people are giving more credit to shows like the Daily Show and the Colbert Report is because they can relate more to these comedians better than they can relate to respected officials and reporters of prestigious networks. Since the beginning of my education it has basically reiterated that politicians are untrustworthy, cheating, stealing individuals. It shows the enormity of the radical changes that have taken place in our society in the last thirty to forty years. When it is taught to our children, and often true, that politicians are often not very trustworthy and that everything they say is to be taking with a grain of salt. These untrustworthy people are the leaders of America, often very respected individuals, and we can’t even trust them?

Instead of the leaders of America, we are to turn to former comedians to gain and attain viable worthwhile information. People’s shady opinion of politicians and network reporters has led to the lack of trust in the information presented by them. I believe that the Daily Show is a direct form of democracy that keeps the bigger fish in America in check, and not only do these sort of shows act as watch dogs but also a very good source of entertainment.

Comments

Stewart's CNBC takedown is definitely something controversial. Whenever some program A insults program B people are going to talk about it, and it is something that is easy to take a position on. Not to say that's why you wrote on this.

Your third paragraph talks about why people like to watch these shows like the Daily Show. I think it’s not only because we feel like we can get information about the economy and such, but because making fun of people has occupied us for centuries. Jon Stewart’s sarcasm and irony play perfectly on our love for putting other people in the dirt. This is especially so when the people that we are making fun of have presented false information to us. Stewart often talks poorly of the government and the way they are trying to aid us, and this is why we are so amused; the government is an entity that has always seemed to fall short when appealing to the public, and it makes us happy to see someone dish it out back to them.

Now, we can’t really blame CNBC for not letting Santelli appear on Stewart’s show, of course they had reason. Which I think is part of the reason why Comedy Central had Stewart take down CNBC so blatantly. It’s that type of situation where Santelli is either going to be humiliated by Stewart on national television, or reside in the shadow of his silent humiliation obtained by backing down on the appearance. It’s a lose lose for him, but it should be so when he makes such a cursory mistake on wall street.

It is very true that shows such as mad money and the financial advice shows that appear on CNBC often make mistakes, but it’s understandable if you look at the complexity of the economy and the stock market especially. You must always account for variable change, just take a look at Bernie Madoff, who was recently arrested for his $51 billion Ponzi scheme. These sorts of surprises in the economy are just as unpredictable as the stock market and today’s economy. One moment thousands of people have all their money invested with one company, the next that company goes bankrupt. But truly this unpredictability of the stock market is what makes it profitable. If everybody made money, it wouldn’t work. So, it is inevitable that some mistakes will be made.

Your take on comedians doing politics goes deeper than our entertainment. Someone that we like (i.e. think they’re entertaining) is generally someone we will agree with. Maybe this is why Al Franken has gained so much popularity. However, when it all boils down, the reason why we don’t like these politicians and falsely informative news networks has to do with what is called the availability heuristic. It’s the effect that you get when you use an unusual case, or outlying piece of information, to gather an argument. Just because CNBC has made a couple of errors doesn’t mean that they are always wrong. They have been around since 1989. But, this play on such phenomenon like the availability heuristic is exactly what gives Stewart “permission” to take down CNBC for their misjudgments.

You hit the proverbial nail right on its head with the statement “if Jon Stewart and the Daily Show didn’t point this out to the American public, I highly doubt any one would have noticed.” I am not the type of person who will sit down and watch a TV show dedicated to the stock market; I don’t have money to invest In anything other than my gas tank and stomach, so stocks are a little out of the question. But you are exactly right, because I know that I would never have been aware of such (pardon my French) shitty reporting had Stewart not had the cajones to take on an entire network. I can’t say that I would have even believed his accusations had I not seen the clips that accompanied them. They paint a clear picture of the shady relationship that CNBC has with Wall Street.

Now, all Fox News jokes aside, it is always obvious that there is a certain degree of bias to any network’s reporting; there is no way around this. So because of this, the biggest concept to take away from this entire Jon Stewart-CNBC showdown is this: WE NEED TO FIND OUT FOR OURSELVES. The stock holders and homeowners of this country need to not simply take the words of the people on TV as truth. If the reporters on TV won’t ask the tough questions, let’s take some time and do a little digging for ourselves, for our own benefit. I know that I am not surprised that the CEO of a company would lie about the financial well-being of his company; hell, I would probably do the same thing in that position. So it shocking, no, APALLING, that news anchors and viewers would naively believe their words. But I guess it IS the right of anyone and everyone to blissfully be misled by the kind words they long to hear. Just like it is their right to believe that a fat man in a red suit comes down their chimney once a year to eat their cookies and leave gifts.

I wholeheartedly agree with your comments here. You point out that one of the keys to The Daily Show's success is that it's essentially news about the false news that was reported earlier on the "real" news networks. To me, the true reason that The Daily Show is so popular and respected is that it's not the simple, off the cuff, news-based humor that it may appear to be at first glance. In order to make fun of current events the way they do, Jon Stewart and the show's writers must first read a great number of major newspapers and websites, and watch hours of news coverage every day. Just by doing their jobs, they're overwhelmingly more informed than the average viewer or comedian.

Furthermore, because they get information from so many sources, the writers are often able to analyze the events to a much greater degree than the major news networks who get most of their information from limited sources much sooner after the events have happened. The Daily Show, despite being rushed in its 20-minute format and focused more on humor and entertainment than serious analysis in most episodes, still provides a look into the news far deeper than most network news. Whereas Fox, CNN, and CNBC simply have to find the information and compile it in a reportable format (with commentary on the shows that call for it), The Daily Show has to read into every news story to find something to make fun of, and on occasions such as Stewart's CNBC take down, they find deeper analysis and commentary as well.