It's been interesting to see how people have been reacting to the Daily Show from last night--some insightful comments, some inane, some a bit defensive. For instance, from the Opinionator column, the overall feel is that Stewart won, but check out what Joe Scarborough said:
Cramer just sat there and took his medicine. He’s clearly shaken that his fellow Democrats have turned on him.Ana Marie Cox replied in a way that showed she clearly didn't get it either:
Has it honestly not occured to Cramer . . . that *he turned on the Democrats*?Hello, the two of you--this isn't a partisan thing. Never has been. It's an economic class thing, but apparently the two of you are so freaking tied up in the world of Democrat v. Republican that you missed the real reason Stewart was so pissed. More on that in a bit.
I couldn't help but note a hint of journalistic protectionism in Alessandra Stanley's piece on the show, though. Just a couple of snippets:
Mr. Stewart treated his guest like a C.E.O. subpoenaed to testify before Congress — his point was not to hear Mr. Cramer out, but to act out a cathartic ritual of indignation and castigation....There was a similar comment in the Opinionator piece about Stewart not being funny--when Tucker Carlson tried that on Crossfire, Stewart replied with "I'm not going to be your monkey," and then later called him a dick. Stanley, whether she realizes it or not, is also part of the problem.
Mr. Stewart has always had a messianic streak to his political satire....
And while it’s never much fun to watch a comedian lose his sense of humor...
Stewart is primarily mad at two groups, and Cramer was just the guy who had to take the hit for all of them. First of all, he's mad at the market manipulators, and that was clear from the way Stewart used the clips from Cramer's website, where he basically bragged about manipulating the market and suggesting (perhaps with cause) that the SEC was too stupid to realize what he was doing. Like Stewart said, “I understand you want to make finance entertaining, but it’s not a fucking game."
The second group Stewart is pissed at--and this should be clear to anyone who's watched his show for the last, oh, ten years--is the news media that acts more often as stenographer than investigator. The thing that Scarborough talked about above? That's the kind of thinking Stewart blasted four years ago on Crossfire when he said Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala were hurting America. And when Stewart was berating Cramer last night, it was as much for his and his network's lack of credulity when interviewing CEOs as it was for their cheerleading.
Maybe I'm giving Jon Stewart too much credit here, but based on the way he looked pained while taking Cramer apart last night, and the way he ended his show--that he hoped that was as uncomfortable to watch as it was to do--I get the feeling that Stewart would really rather stick to sophomoric humor most nights, rather than actually take apart the media. Stewart really wants an active news media that serves as a check not only on government overreach, but corporate overreach as well--he's an optimist that way. And it depresses him to realize that his audience is more educated on facts than the audiences of some major news organizations, as well it should. He's a comedian, not a journalist, and when he does shows like the one he did last night, he's irritated because he feels forced to fill a role he's not all that qualified to fill--there are people who go to school and who spend years in the field supposedly preparing themselves to do this sort of thing, and either they're not doing it, or they're being held back from doing it by the people who run the show.
And the rest of his reaction is despair, because he thinks that if he, as a comedian, is at the head of the people shedding light on this crap, then what hope is there for our civilization? Maybe that's a bit over-dramatic, but I feel him on that.