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The story of the Jon Stewart (Comedy Central) interview of Jim Cramer (CNBC) has been generating a little bit of interest:


So we’re at the point that a comedian has to  take a break from fart sounds and funny faces to dish out some journalism.   Because otherwise, there isn’t any? Journalism, that is.

-Jay Ackroyd 07:28

CBS picked up the story, even garnering praise for their coverage in a prominent diary on the Great Orange Satan.

Jeff Greenfield

Did Network Drink Wall Street Kool-Aid?

CBS Evening News: In Scathing “Daily Show” Interview, Jon Stewart Admonishes CNBC’s Jim Cramer

NEW YORK, March 13, 2009 | by Jeff Greenfield

…But the real question is this: How do we get the hard questions asked before things go wrong? That is the very serious question the late-night comedian was raising.

[emphasis added]

Good question. I would suspect, when you’re a journalist with access, that it might involve something along the line of actually asking those, you know, hard questions.

Glenn Greenwald

Friday March 13, 2009 08:09 EDT

There’s nothing unique about Jim Cramer

…The point that can’t be emphasized enough is that this isn’t a matter of past history.   Unlike Cramer — who at least admitted fault last night and said he was “chastized” — most establishment journalists won’t acknowledge that there was anything wrong with the behavior of the press corps during the Bush years.  The most they’ll acknowledge is that it was confined to a couple of bad apples — The Judy Miller Defense.  But the Cramer-like journalistic behavior during that period that was so widespread and did so much damage is behavior that our press corps, to this day, believes is proper and justified

…It’s fine to praise Jon Stewart for the great interview he conducted and to mock and scoff at Jim Cramer and CNBC.  That’s absolutely warranted.  But just as was true for Judy Miller (and her still-celebrated cohort, Michael Gordon), Jim Cramer isn’t an aberration.  What he did and the excuses he offered are ones that are embraced as gospel to this day by most of our establishment press corps, and to know that this is true, just look at what they do and say about their roles.  But at least Cramer wants to appear to be contrite for the complicit role he played in disseminating incredibly destructive and false claims from the politically powerful.  That stands in stark contrast to David Gregory, Charlie Gibson, Brian Williams, David Ignatius and most of their friends, who continue to be defiantly and pompously proud of the exact same role they play

[emphasis added]

“But, but, but,” our useless media whines, “we didn’t know…”:

Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War [from the PIPA web site introduction]

October 2, 2003

An in-depth analysis of a series of polls conducted June through September found 48% incorrectly believed that evidence of links between Iraq and al Qaeda have been found, 22% that weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, and 25% that world public opinion favored the US going to war with Iraq. Overall 60% had at least one of these three misperceptions.

Such misperceptions are highly related to support for the war. Among those with none of the misperceptions listed above, only 23% support the war. Among those with one of these misperceptions, 53% support the war, rising to 78% for those who have two of the misperceptions, and to 86% for those with all 3 misperceptions. Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments, “While we cannot assert that these misperceptions created the support for going to war with Iraq, it does appear likely that support for the war would be substantially lower if fewer members of the public had these misperceptions.”

The frequency of Americans’ misperceptions varies significantly depending on their source of news….

Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War [pdf] [from the PIPA report]

…The widespread presence of misperceptions naturally raises the question of whether they are to some extent a function of an individual’s source of news. In other words, did people vary in the frequency of their misperceptions according to their source of news? …

Frequency of Misperceptions:

Evidence of al-Qaeda Links, WMD Found,World Public Opinion Favorable

Respondents with one or more misperceptions

FOX 80%

CBS 71%

ABC 61%

NBC 55%

CNN 55%

Print Media 47%


That’s a lot of “Kool-Aid drinkers”, even for CBS and CNN. I wonder why? Did our media ask hard questions before things went wrong? Ironic, don’t you think?

Let’s take a look back:


Saber Rattling

Aired October 4, 2002 – 07:46   ET…

…BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: You know the song, “War, What is it Good For?” Well, it seems Iraq’s vice president is singing the same tune.

Taha Yassin Ramadan suggesting a way for the U.S. and Iraq to avoid war and bloodshed. His idea is this: Get the feuding leaders together face-to-face — president vs. president, vice president vs. vice president — for a duel…

…GREENFIELD: Now, here’s another suggestion. We might turn to a karaoke contest, because we do know from one of his ex-mistresses that Saddam’s favorite song is, “Strangers in the Night.” The president favors the classic Everly Brothers song, “Wake Up Little Susie.” Frankly, I’m with Team USA on that one.

And I would suggest another crazy (ph) competition, but it’s the biathlon, not the one you meant.

HEMMER: It is?

GREENFIELD: The biathlon is a Winter Olympic event, where competitors race on skis, and then drop to their knees and fire guns at their targets. This is what my grandparents saw when they were fleeting Romania.

And once again, given the ski and snow element here, probably not much chance for practice in Iraq…

…HEMMER: But Saddam, what, he’s a swordsman, right?


HEMMER: Somewhat practiced anyway.

GREENFIELD: We have to be careful about that phrase. But, yes, he is literally a swordsman.

But here, here we take a page from New Jersey Democrats. You remember, stuck with a losing candidate, they simple substituted a different one.

If Saddam tricks us into using swords, a very simple solution. The president steps aside for Air Force Academy Cadet Weston Kelsey (ph). Why? He happens to be the reigning American fencing champion. Now, that is what we mean by preemption. And frankly, Bill, you don’t get this kind of analysis anywhere else.

HEMMER: So true.

GREENFIELD: Absolutely.

HEMMER: Who needs the doctor when we’ve got you, huh?

GREENFIELD: Let’s get ready to rumble.

HEMMER: You got it. Thank you, Jeff. Good stuff.

Let’s get ready to rumble? This is what passed for quality journalism about a very serious subject?

There’s plenty more where that came from:


Cheney Makes Administration’s Strongest Case Yet For U.S. Strike Against Iraq

Aired August 27, 2002 – 09:
45   ET…

…GREENFIELD: …So the U.N. speech is one where I’m — they haven’t called me in on it.

KAGAN: The White House is on the phone, Jeff.

GREENFIELD: No, no, no, we don’t do that.

But I strongly suspect that will be the appeal to say it is in the international community’s interest for us all to stop whatever Iraq is up to and get that guy out of here.

KAGAN: More layering and making the case….

You don’t do that? Yes, you do. See the PIPA [pdf] study above.

Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler [December 14, 2006]:

…One final note to Greenfield, who is plainly one of our brighter pundits: You sat back-you rarely said boo-while your colleagues staged their lunatic war against Gore. In that way, you took part in the crackpot process which sent George Bush to the White House-and the U. S. Army to Iraq. As such, it’s a little bit late for you to start crying about high-minded journalistic practice. Start by describing what your colleagues did. Then, start to criticize us…

As for Jeff Greenfield:

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?

Captain Renault: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money] Croupier: Your winnings, sir.

Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.

[aloud] Captain Renault: Everybody out at once!…

Oh, thank you very much. Eight years too late.