Irony is served with Jon Stewart’s interview of Jim Cramer

Posted in Culture, Finance, Television by Alex L. on March 13, 2009

After a week-long television feud, yesterday Jim Cramer appeared on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart to explain why CNBC had failed in their mission to intelligently report financial news as the financial crisis was beginning to unravel. I admire Jim Cramer for going on the Daily Show (and several times on the Colbert Report) and his willingness to have an honest debate with commentators that challenge him.

Nevertheless, there was a tinge of irony in Cramer’s response to Stewart as the comedy show host was probing his guest to try to understand why Jim Cramer was so buffoonish and irrational about serious financial matters on his show. Jim Cramer responded by saying, “I’m a guy trying to do an entertainment show about business for people to watch, but it’s difficult to have a reporter say, ‘I just came back from an interview with Hank Paulson and he lied his darn full head off.’ It’s difficult; I think it challenges the boundaries.” Ironically, though, this is what Jon Stewart does every day on his show. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is primarily an entertainment show, but it also interweaves smart social criticism into its comedy. And Jon Stewart is famous for giving colleagues and guests (many of them powerful and high-profile) tough cross-examinations. He does this so well that his parody news show often delivers better journalism than the established media. Stewart said to Cramer in reply, “Yeah, I mean, I’m under the assumption – and maybe this is purely ridiculous – but I’m under the assumption that you don’t just take their word at face value. That you actually then go around and try to figure it out.” I commend (for what it’s worth) Jim Cramer for having the guts to confront Jon Stewart on his home turf, but perhaps the financial news commentator has a thing or two to learn from Jon Stewart about successfully marrying smarts and entertainment on television.