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Cramer vs. Stewart

March 16th, 2009

Has anyone seen the carcass of Jim Cramer?

By now, you’ve probably seen, or at least read about, the much anticipated and reported on public lynching of the CNBC “Mad Money” host. If not, you can see all three parts of the humiliation here. For proof that tons and tons of people watched it, click here.

(And, by the way, a little PR advice for Cramer – I know it’s too late, but maybe he should’ve asked me beforehand – next time you’re weighing whether or not to go before a live studio audience to be “interviewed” by a quick-witted host who isn’t too concerned with playing it down the middle, DON’T GO. And if you ignore that advice, please at least show up with some sort of defense.)
Beyond the primal joy humans seem to take in watching someone else being eviscerated, the showdown raised several interesting questions:

For Cramer, was it a crushing, potentially career-ending embarrassment?
For me, the biggest question is, why would you take any of these people seriously? Anyone who hosts a talk show, whether it’s Jon Stewart or Jim Cramer or Rush Limbaugh or Angelo Cataldi, is, to a certain extent, full of crap. Trust me … I host a talk show. It would be wonderful if talk shows existed to shed light on topics like the economy, politics and sports. But they don’t; talk shows are tabloids on steroids – most exist to entertain. If they deliver a little information along the way that’s fine, but you need to know that when push comes to shove, they are going for ratings. Ratings = job security. Period.

When Stewart steps over the line, his excuse is the same as Cramer’s – “Whaddya want from me? I’m an entertainer.”

Cramer has always been dangerous because people take him seriously. While his goal is clearly to entertain, some people bet their life savings on his “advice.” Stewart hides behind the fact that he started as a comedian, but he is increasingly seen as an important voice on important topics. For a growing number of people, the Daily Show is their go-to source of news.

For me, the biggest question is, why would you take any of these people seriously? Anyone who hosts a talk show, whether it’s Jon Stewart or Jim Cramer or Rush Limbaugh or Angelo Cataldi, is, to a certain extent, full of crap. Trust me … I host a talk show. It would be wonderful if talk shows existed to shed light on topics like the economy, politics and sports. But they don’t; talk shows are tabloids on steroids – most exist to entertain. If they deliver a little information along the way that’s fine, but you need to know that when push comes to shove, they are going for ratings. Ratings = job security. Period.

When Stewart steps over the line, his excuse is the same as Cramer’s – “Whaddya want from me? I’m an entertainer.”

Cramer has always been dangerous because people take him seriously. While his goal is clearly to entertain, some people bet their life savings on his “advice.” Stewart hides behind the fact that he started as a comedian, but he is increasingly seen as an important voice on important topics. For a growing number of people, the Daily Show is their go-to source of news.

Posted Under: Media & Journalism
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