Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Great Santelli/Cramer Vs. Cramer

Watching Erin Burnett on Bill Maher's show last week (and jeez, Billy, next time you're short a guest, feel free to shoot me a call; I'll even bring a few bottles for the after-party), I was instantly struck by a second wave of irritation at the refusal of these financial journamalists to see what is in front of their faces, to acknowledge what is empirically observable.

In this case Burnett was defending the monkey antics and dartboard prognostications of In Cramer We Trust, and lamentably nobody opted to dig deeper and ask what the fuck Santelli's major malfunction was. (Since his little boiler-room manifesto, showing off for all the pimps and bookies who engineered this clusterfuck, Santelli seems to have gone back to his usual fourth-tier status on the radar. We can at least be thankful for that.)

Naturally I had churned a nice 10,000-word jeremiad in my fevered brain before the show had even ended, about what a nasty piece of work Santelli must be to conjure up that fulsome crock of shit, about how maybe he should go to one of the tent towns springing up across this great nation of ours, and call these working-class dogs "losers" to their faces. He may wish to take a bag with him, in which to carry out his fucking teeth. But at this point it's like calling water wet, Cheney evil, yada yada.

Cramer is actually more interesting to me at this point in the week, because Jon Stewart has been screwing with him all week, after eviscerating Santelli. And Cramer has been making the rounds on every sister-network pseudo-news entity he can find, sometimes with Burnett at his side, perhaps to distract folks from his own glaring baldnesswrongness, perhaps because Meredith Vieira wouldn't let him bring his studio toys and novelty noises on the Today show with him (no doubt out of deference to Lauer's reputed penchant for bright and noisy playroom gadgets).

And now it's come full circle, and Cramer will venture onto The Daily Show tonight to face his tormentor directly, and they will be frustratingly civil, and Cramer will still not quite understand what the problem is. He and Santelli, sadly, are a bare step above your garden-variety talk-radio blowhard, in that they prefer heat over light, that they specifically speak for and to a certain niche (hint: the folks who would sympathize with Santelli's boiler-room butt-buddies), and they are rarely bothered with facts or depth. But when you get 'em face-to-face they tend to be disarmingly, almost disappointingly sober in temperament. Which would be fine, except for the small issue of them knowing what they're talking about, and what their mission as journamalists should be.

Someone should ask them why only peons are "losers", but dipshit stockbrokers who insisted that they knew what they were doing deserve our grandchildren's money. Or why it's "socialism" to throw a bone to neighbors, even dim-witted ones, out of rational self-interest (preserving property values, public services, community order, etc.) but we can socialize trillions of dollars lost by smug coke-head assholes and that's supposed to be capitalism.

I don't think those words mean what these poseurs seem to think they mean, and maybe it's time they stopped being the beneficiaries of this unearned perceived relevance.

[Update: Alrighty then, Stewart was more relentless and scathing than one might have thought. He seems dead serious about pursuing this issue to its logical conclusion, though it would have been helpful to revisit Santelli's original transgression, which is actually where Cramer inserted himself in the first place, before commencing on his defensive magical misery tour from Leno to Martha and all points in between.

They all want to have everything both ways -- to be entertaining and informative, while actually not being much of either; to "inform" the peons and the rentiers, even though the latter drip with contempt for the former, and the feeling's become mutual now that the question of trust is resolved; to not presume to speak for their colleagues, but still to intercede when one of them says something stupid. It really comes down to whether they wish to be taken seriously or not; if they do, then calling Obama a "marxist" and showing off for a roomful of asshole traders by flipping off most of the country is directly counter to that effort.

Stewart put it well by reminding Cramer that too often, he and his cohorts act like the world of finance is a big game, and if they haven't figured out by now that it is not a fucking game, then they've earned every bit of the scorn and distrust they've engendered. That they had to be told this by a basic-cable comedian, as they put it, shows you what brains they've got.]


Anonymous said...

Stewart's a brave, intelligent and engaging soul who happens to be working as a comedian/satirist. He just gets better and better. Now, how will the pro-Cramer crowd respond...

Heywood J. said...

Is there a pro-Cramer crowd? Actually, I'll give him this -- there did appear to be some core of sincerity in his apparent contrition, although he still could not quite, as Stewart put it, reconcile this disparity between the very savvy game-player behind the scenes, and the public buffoon whom no knowledgeable investor would take too seriously.

Maybe he'll finally get it and be empowered to change his approach; maybe there's just too much institutional pressure for that to happen. I imagine that for someone who's been reading graphs and diddling percentage points as long as Cramer, it is a game to a great extent.

But I really don't get what purpose CNBC serves overall, I guess. Even a day-trader can just dial up Morningstar and get pretty comprehensive information on a stock, or Motley Fool or whatever. Financial networks seem to just alternate between talking-head clowns and money bunnies, which is fine if not taken too seriously.

And Stewart and Colbert really are one of the best tag-teams (really, the best) on TV. Both have used their satirical weapons with a deftness that underpins the humor. Network anchors are pretty interchangeable, but nobody else does what those two are doing.

The Vile Scribbler said...

Yeah, I've griped about Stewart's Nerf interviews in the past, but that was very good. Which is probably why the "serious" media have their claws out.

Like they said at Balloon Juice -- interesting that making an honest effort to ask tough questions means you have a messianic streak. Or worse yet, Stewart actually seems to give a shit about some things! How gauche!

I like the line about how sad it is to see a comedian lose his sense of humor. Translation: Leave the journalism to the professionals like us; you just keep dancing, monkeyboy.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

jim cramer is a good actor ,he can change his face based on topic at hand

shorty said...

any one thinks that cnbc is not a salsa tv needs to go and drink some milk,BTW this fast money show panel is number one goal is to make money them selves and you can tell that they always love to short stocks.