Have you been watching the Jon Stewart showdown with CNBC this week? I confess I don't stay up that late, but I have been recording the episodes and catching them the next day. Like many others, I think, I was surprised to note the serious turn his "Daily Show" took, and particularly by his ability to take a serious topic and raise the serious questions it calls for. Why does it take a comedian to ask the kind of questions the median should have been asking all along?
Jim Cramer, who happened to be chosen to sit in Stewart's hot seat last night and had been the specific target of his attacks throughout the week, held up his end as best he could, with at least a show of humility and regret. The central theme of his defense of CNBC, as I understood it, was that he and others on the channel had been lied to. What he seemed to neither grant, nor particularly to understand, was that it's the media's job to subject what they've been told to some rigorous questioning and analysis, not just accept it on face value. Our current economic catastrophe was caused, surely, in good part, by the failure to ask questions, the failure to put the bland assertions of self-serving executives to the test.
So what self-respecting reporter in any other field would neglect to question the veracity of his or her sources? Sure, those Wall Street folks lied. They lied about everything, in order to maximize their obscene and eventually hollow profits. For years. The real question is this: how were they allowed to get away with their lies for so long, at a time when the media's "experts" had no excuse for not knowing that the nation's financial house was in increasing danger of collapse? We were as ill-served by the media as by our financial moguls; and by the Bush administration, which also lied to them--and through them, to us--with impunity on every front.
Thanks, guys. You have a lot to answer for, and I'm glad that someone is asking the relevant questions--even if it takes a comedian to do the asking.