Zucker vs. Stewart: "Completely out of line" on Cramer and CNBC

Zucker vs. Stewart: "Completely out of line" on Cramer and CNBC

Summary: NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker kicked off the 2009 Business Week Media Summit this morning by criticizing Comedy Central satirist and commentator Jon Stewart as being "incredibly unfair to CNBC and business media in general" in his critical interview of CNBC financial show host Jim Cramer last week.

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TOPICS: Banking
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NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker kicked off the 2009 Business Week Media Summit this morning by criticizing Comedy Central satirist and commentator Jon Stewart as being "incredibly unfair to CNBC and business media in general" in his critical interview of CNBC financial show host Jim Cramer last week.

The repercussions of the credit crisis, failure of financial institutions and steep fall of the economy are not the fault of any member of the media, including Cramer, Zucker indicated in response to a leadoff question from Business Week executive editor Ellen Pollock on the Stewart vs. Cramer face-off. "You can't blame what happened here on the business media,'' he said (Techmeme).

CNBC 'distinguished itself' in its coverage of the crisis and the economy over the last two years. And Zucker praised Cramer for distinguishing himself on at least two occasions: first, when he made a passionate plea on CNBC in August 2007 for Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke to open the discount window, lowering interest rates to ease the developing credit crisis; and, second, when he said on NBC's Today show in October 2008 that anyone who expected to need their savings in the next five years should "go to cash now."

"You can't look at any singuar call that Jim Cramer or CNBC makes" and make them culprits for the nation's or world's economic maladies, Zucker said. With 401Ks all down, including his, Zucker said "we all want to blame somebody."

But, he said, "to suggest CNBC was responsible is absurd."

If you missed the exchange between Cramer of CNBC's "Mad Money" show and Stewart on Stewart's "Daily Show," here it is, on Hulu (a joint venture of NBC and Fox). You form your own opinion of its fairness.

Topic: Banking

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24 comments
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  • I think Stewart was right on

    If NBC's financial reporters had been doing real investigative reporting
    rather than luring people into investing in ways solely to make money,
    they could have made people aware a long time ago of what was in store.
    The problem with real reporting is that the reporter will, if he or she is
    doing a good job, will upset this or that CEO or other Master of the
    Universe, and lose access to information about that company.
    Prime Detailer
  • RE: Zucker Vs. Stewart:

    Cramer's most used defense was that he interviewed or knew CEOs of companies and they lied to him. Gee, greedy people NEVER lie, so I wouldn't have doubted them either!
    simpleone71
  • RE: Zucker Vs. Stewart:


    A journalists job is to not take people at their word, but to probe. To investigate. There was plenty of information out there to indicate some major problems at the companies that failed well before they failed. Instead of getting a sales pitch from a CEO, they should have looked at the SEC reports and financials.

    Also.. when the SEC waivered the requirements for several companies to keep less than 1% liquidity in the company, it was gross negligence on the part of the business media to not cover that and ask basic questions about how financially sound a decision that would be for banks to have no liquid assets to cover their depositors. Any cash run or large withdrawal would require the banks to pull money from somewhere.
    rijrunner
  • Zucker is misleading on a great scale

    Zucker is completely off the line, as Stewart didn't blame media for causing the downfall. Stewart merely pointed out that CNBC acted merely as PR machine for the financial world - in other words, it acted more like a financiall giving-advice consultancy than a medium. It has nothing to do with journalism, CNBC is simply an attempt how to turn financial markets and investing into a dumbed down reality show.
    kitko
  • Cramer's just the whipping boy

    Cramer was the convenient stand-in for the whole genre of business show talking heads who double as knowledgeable prognosticators. We all know who Stewart should really be dragging in there - the Wall Street dons who called the shots on this crap - but that will never happen, so we got the show trial instead.
    ejhonda
  • RE: Zucker Vs. Stewart:

    Stewart and these other arm-chair quarterbacks are really amusing. People don't want to look at themselves or their friends poor judgements for the last 15 years. They'd rather blame President Bush, CNBC, Jim Cramer, greedy CEO's, Wall St, etc... I didn't need to apply anything more than common sense to figure out the Internet Bubble was going to pop, and the same for the housing/finance bubble. In fact I made money on both events and I'm not a financial professional. It was so painfully obvious. Everyone was so fat, dumb, and happy driving their giant SUV's and living in the houses they could barely afford, and racking up all the credit card debt possible without any concerns about the fact they were living completely beyond their means for years. And now that the house of cards has collapsed they all look for someone else to blame. Wake up folks... look in the mirror... it's your fault. PT Barnum was right... there is a sucker born every minute. Or, maybe more accurately... lots of suckers.
    LetsGoDiving
    • Every Court needs a Jester

      Mr. Stewart only pointed out something which others have long suspected, that broadcast / cablecast business reporting leaves much to be desired. In doing so, he has hewn true to one of the oldest and most noble functions of comedy, the court jester's ability to point out the foibles and misdeeds of the rich and powerful.

      The question has been asked, and (as far as I can tell), is still unanswered: does the business media serve the public at large, including the business / financial community, or does it serve only the business/financial community, ignoring the needs of the rest of the polity? Solid investigative reporting by the CNBC and its competitors is what is needed now. Truely, some very rich, very powerful people will become very upset, perhaps even upset enough to try and destroy CNBC.

      Tough.

      For better or for worse, that is what they signed up for when they decided to become reporters. Not for perks. Not for lunches at corporate headquarters. The time has come for business media to stand up and embrace its 4th estate responsibilities. Mr. Zucker is ashamed at being shown up by Comedy Central, America's court jester. Jon Stewart has done his job. Now CNBC (and their ilk) have to do thiers.
      zentinal@...
  • RE: Zucker Vs. Stewart:

    http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/talkback/190244-McGraw_Hill_Summit_Zucker_Defends_CNBC_Jim_Cramer.php
    zentinal@...
  • RE: Zucker Vs. Stewart:

    Zucker needs to learn what the Daily Show is about.
    Loverock Davidson
  • What do you expect Zucker to say

    perhaps something like this:

    "Yes CNBC is dumbed down drivel. Jon Stewart
    was dead on. And grownups watch Bloomberg TV,
    but I have to tell you that CNBC is great
    because, well I own it."

    Aside from Faber and Mark Haines CNBC leaves a
    lot to be desired.

    And by the way I like Cramer, but his calls
    always have to be viewed only from a trading
    perspective. He has good calls but sometimes
    they only last a few hours at best. Do your own
    due diligence.
    Larry Dignan
  • RE: Zucker Vs. Stewart:

    If CNBC is not meant to do real reporting, but to just be
    entertaining, it needs to take responsibility when someone
    like Cramer tells people to buy a certain stock and then
    causes people to lose a lot of money. They deserve all of the
    ridicule that they can get. Regular people who watch the
    program(s) and are not investing experts, take what these
    people say seriously and will invest their money as
    recommended. In hind site, it's pretty shameful.
    Prime Detailer
  • RE: Zucker Vs. Stewart:

    Nearly every Jim Cramer appearance on CNBC is preceded by
    a lengthy disclaimer which states that viewers should consult
    with a financial advisor while considering any moves in their
    investments. The disclaimer often appears even when he
    opines on other CNBC shows. The news readers at the major
    TV networks should be made to make similar disclosures
    given the amount of spin in today's 'news'. Anyone who
    makes a move based solely on Cramer's input deserves
    whatever they get.
    fzp11b
    • Well then, what good is it?

      If you can't believe what is being said, what good it it. You might as well
      take it off the air and put on Lucy.
      Prime Detailer
  • CNBC isn't the only problem, but they do contribute towards the problem

    when they should be contributing towards the solution. That was Jon's beef and that's all he claimed. But I guess the only way to deflect the criticism in this case is to warp the criticism's message.
    Michael Kelly
    • I know just what you mean

      For example, I watch a lot of American Chopper but when I tried to build
      a motorcycle from scratch that didn't work perfectly either.

      I hope Jon straightens out those OCC guys next.
      fzp11b
      • Thanks for proving my point

        that warping the message is really the only way to fight it.
        Michael Kelly
  • RE: Zucker Vs. Stewart:

    Great News! If you don't enjoy the show your TV can receive hundreds of other shows...including Lucy (which I
    also enjoy).

    Notice that I said 'solely' on what Cramer says. Viewers
    can take what he says, along with other inputs, including
    help from their financial planner, and decide what to do
    given their circumstances.

    If the idea was just do what he says and you get rich, we'd
    all do it. With reward comes risk.
    fzp11b
  • RE: Zucker Vs. Stewart:

    Of course Stewart isn't claiming it's CNBC's fault, that's absurd. Cramer's show is little more than a hopped up Las Vegas "How to gamble" video and their "news" coverage amounts to mostly "business entertainment". Which is fine by me, it's their claim of being an accurate or even reliable source of news and financial analysis that it laughable. Maybe I am just being naive, but didn't legitimate news sources, once upon a time, check their facts before just parroting out whatever some CEO told them?

    When they did have analysts on who questioned, like Schiff and others. They blew them off as loons, I have no pity for CNBC now. Their "news" section is exposed as little more than cheerleaders. Many of us knew this already, and Stewart is just gaining some laughs pointing it out.
    oncall
  • RE: Zucker Vs. Stewart:

    I think Stewart was just politely pointing out to Cramer about how naive he was to the workings of big business. Cramer even agreed that he may have been much more naive then he had at first realized.
    islesteve7
  • Once again, media (including Steinert-Threlkeld) misses the point

    Steinert-Threlkeld claims to be a journalist, yet he
    lets this strawman attack go out under his byline
    without comment. THIS is exactly what Stewart was
    talking about.

    Stewart was not claiming that Cramer or Zucker or
    anyone at CNBC or any other network CAUSED the
    meltdown.

    His complaint is that the networks coddle executives
    in business and government, stroking their egos, and
    re-printing their press releases in order to maintain
    access. Then, these officials with an agenda dole out
    the access to the network so they can have a podium to
    make statements which they know will go unchallenged,
    unverified, and unfiltered by these mannequins
    masquerading as journalists.

    The press is protected in the Constitution because it
    is expected to watch the government, and by not doing
    that, CNBC and other so-called news stations
    squandered any chance they might have had to alert us
    to the severity of the crisis in advance.
    evano