Good financial crisis commentary from a source I never thought I’d use

Sometimes, when I see someone posting a video from The Daily Show or The Colbert Report on their Facebook page, I wonder if they realize that these aren’t really news sources. I usually watch, laugh, and go back to what I consider “reputable news.” Usually, that means NPR or Reuters for me.

However, the other day, I got sucked into Jon Stewart’s conflict with Jim Cramer. I regularly read The Consumerist, a consumer rights blog, which exposes the follies of corporate America trying to pull one over on the American public. Actually, I really read it for the daily morning deals feature, but that’s another story. On Wednesday, they posted this story about the week long running battle of wills between Cramer and Stewart. (That link has some embedded videos that are great primers for the links I’m going to post later. I recommend catching up.)

In a nutshell, Stewart ranted on one of his shows about CNBC, complaining that the financial news media station had failed in its journalistic responsibilities. Somehow Cramer decided it was an attack directed at him, and responded. The two sniped back and forth a few times, with Cramer even showing up on The Martha Stewart Show to pound out his aggressions on some pie dough. (Did he know that Pi Day is tomorrow?)

Last night, Cramer was interviewed exstensively on The Daily Show. At lunch today, I decided to watch the interview just to see how worked up Cramer could get. (I’ve seen his show a few times, and it’s kinda spastic!) As it turned out, he actually kept his calm for the most part.

What surprised me the most was the passion and journalistic integrity that Stewart conducted the interview. After all, Stewart really is a comedian at heart, and his show usually pokes fun at people. However, in this interview, Stewart rarely reached into his funny sounds and faces gag bag. He held Cramer, a financial news journalist and commentator, to the fire. He asked pointed questions about how the CNBC network didn’t seem concerned about fact checking the “news” and stock recommendations they were passing out like candy. Stewart expressed the concerns of many Americans: if someone knew about what was going on (the financial media should have known, after all, as Cramer mentions, they have 17 hours of live programming a day!), why didn’t anyone say anything about it.

This is one of my favorite quotes from the interview:

It’s very easy to get on this after the fact. The measure of the network…. CNBC could act as… in some ways… look, nobody is asking them to act as a regulatory agency… but who’s side are they on here?

It feels like they have to reconcile… is their audience the Wall Street traders who are doing this for constant profit on a day to day, the short term?

These guys at these companies were on a Sherman’s March through their companies financed by our 401ks and all the incentives of their companies were for short term profit. They burned the house down with our money and walked away rich as hell and you guys knew that that was going on.

I was surprised by this interview. I didn’t think I’d be posting clips from The Daily Show on my blog. But I am. Here’s a good chunk of the interview. It’s 11 minutes long, just so you know. And Stewart may or may not be bleeped when he swears… But the video is definitely worth watching. You can find the full interview at this link.