Last night's Daily Show face-off between earnest, angry Jon Stewart and dew-eyed, who-me? Jim Cramer was a remarkable pop culture moment. We saw both an attack on the empty euphemisms used to explain the world's financial mess and a reminder that the failures of journalists to, you know, check their sources helped produce much of this current meltdown.
Now let's be clear: television and newspaper reporting, clinging to Woodward and Bernstein-like gravitas, is hardly dead. Even now, somewhere in Cleveland or Albany, some paunchy, ink-stained wretch is poring over musty courthouse records or transcribing scrawled notes from a deep-background interview, preparing to blow the lid off some long-hidden scandal. Our Fourth Estate will always produce meticulous hounds and dogged pursuits, thank goodness.
But traditional journalists must give props to comedian Jon Stewart who managed to crystalize America's rage and confusion about the collapse of our financial system before upending one of its beloved cheerleaders. How? Not with mere clever commentariat posturing but with a systematic dismantling of the intellectual infrastructure that has supported a multi-trillion dollar transfer (or disintegration) of wealth from producers of things to producers of nothing.
Jim Cramer, typically viewed as a straight-shooter and populist insider, was - in gamer parlance - pwnd by Stewart's mix of damning video evidence and live moral clarity. If you haven't seen the interview yet, you really should.
Here's a link: Unedited Interview