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.