Stewart Slammed For CNBC Attacks

John Stewart Was Jon Stewart fair and balanced in the "The Daily Show" vs. the CNBC showdown that culminated last week? Anything but, said NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker.

On Wednesday, Zucker argued that Stewart was not only "incredibly unfair" to CNBC, but the business media in general--including BusinessWeek, one of the sponsors of the conference where he spoke.

"To suggest the business media or CNBC was responsible for what's going on now is absurd," he said.

"Everyone wants to point a finger," he added, but charging CNBC's anchors with improperly cheerleading and ignoring warning signs about the pending financial turmoil was "out of line."

Zucker said CNBC has done a stellar job in its coverage, and some backlash is now emerging among viewers "in terms of let's stop beating the press." Zucker added that Jim Cramer, host of "Mad Money" on CNBC, had actually been out front in railing against some corporate practices.

Broadcasting & Cable reported that Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman defended Stewart at the event later Wednesday. (Viacom owns Comedy Central, which airs "The Daily Show.) "Jon Stewart is a great person, and he's very smart and has a connection with the zeitgeist which makes him successful," Daumann said. "[The interview] got so much attention because Jon Stewart was one of the few people on air that spoke to what people are thinking out there."

Described by MSNBC's David Shuster as a "full-blown war," Stewart fired the first shots as host of "The Daily Show" when he ran a montage of CNBC anchors and analysts offering commentary before the stock market crash that, in hindsight, was off-base.

Cramer was a particular target, and responded that his comments were taken out of context. He later appeared on Stewart's Comedy Central show, and the contretemps concluded rather placidly--making Zucker's strident comments Wednesday somewhat surprising.

3 comments about "Stewart Slammed For CNBC Attacks".
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  1. Tiffany Lyman Otten from Tiffany Otten Consulting, LLC, March 19, 2009 at 11:11 a.m.

    Oh PLEASE. Viacom's President had it right in that typically, Stewart is the only person who actually has the (insert illustrative noun here) to say what people are actually thinking.

    He and Jim Cramer had an excellent dialogue - Cramer did the right thing (morally and PR-wise) by going on the show, because
    A) the whole debate started because he stuck his nose in too deep when it was initially about a cancelled guest's erroneous reports
    B) each time someone attacked Stewart back, it just exposed how phony they were, and they were losing more and more PR face
    C) facing the facts on Stewart was much more effective and dignifying than pounding batter with a rolling pin on *Martha Stewart* (correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't she go to JAIL for financial crimes? that was just comical...)

    Stewart asked tough questions but Cramer got to say his side too. Both men came out standing tall.

    So then Zucker comes and whines NOW, when it's presumablly "safe" to do so because the battle's over already? That's just bad PR and not really a subjective, moral issue.

    The moral issue is that he's also flat wrong. All of the financial news networks' coverage was ineffective at best, grossly negligent at worst; like the wall street executives who failed miserably yet we bemoan their bonuses, these financial "experts" failed miserably and now cry when someone points that out.

    The nicest way to describe it is that they executed their jobs poorly and people suffered as a result. The more vehement description is that they exacerbated the situtation by using the trust they were given (in Cramer we trust, after all) to propogate the foolish behavior that caused this to snowball. Both arguments are valid. Maybe one is more *right* than the other, but no matter how you slice it, they failed and people who did put their trust in Cramer and the rest of CNBC suffered the loss.

    Cramer showed very anxious dismay at being lied to by CEO's he'd known "for years", and I believe him. That doesn't excuse him, but I believe his tears were not of the crocodilian variety. That was brilliant PR, and the humble, sincere apology that this debate needed. Stewart was right in pointing out that it was their job to investigate what they have been told. In any other field, do journalists just repeat what they're told by self-serving parties without investigation? If that were accepted behavior, we'd all be touting how safe smoking is because the "tobacco CEO's said so".

    Zucker should stay quiet - he's most respected when he isn't talking.

  2. Tim Mccormick from McCormick Fields, March 19, 2009 at 1:11 p.m.

    Let's face it Jon Stewart is no Will Rogers.
    Will Rogers was no Mark Twain.
    Mark Twain was no Benjamin Franklin.
    Benjamin Franklin was no (insert famous French guy)
    Some how, some way, humorists have had a special
    way of roasting pompous twits. And so it goes.

  3. David Ricketts from N-A, March 24, 2009 at 1:48 p.m.

    Zucker's whining reminds me of that famous quote: Editors are the people who sort the wheat from the chaff, then print the chaff.

    I watch CNBC and I've seen their serious reporters sidelined and mocked by the talking head hosts that are front & centre on that channel. If the channel was reporting the stories, then letting the talking heads comment, he might have some grounds to complain about Stewart's compilations.

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