Neuron Culture

From Andrew Sullivan:

I watched the Daily Show with growing shock last night. Did you expect that? I expected a jolly and ultimately congenial discussion, after some banter. What Cramer walked into was an ambush of anger. He crumbled from the beginning. From then on, with the almost cruel broadcasting of his earlier glorifying of financial high-jinks, you almost had to look away. This was, in my view, a real cultural moment. It was a storming of the Bastille. It was, as Fallows notes, journalism.

This is truly is something to see, just as Stewart’s pieces on Cramer and CNBC, back to his original take-down a few days ago, have been both splendid comedy and some really incisive journailsm — or is it metajournalism? Whatever you call it, it cuts to the bone and does so by using the straightest sort of evidence — the raw material (the clips) he’s talking about. If you want to hang a guy, nothing works like his own rope — and a scaffold he built himself.

As Sullivan puts it,

Now, I know Jim Cramer a little. The reason he crumbled last night, I think, is because deep down, he knows Stewart’s right. He isn’t that television clown all the way down. And deeper down, he knows it’s not all a game – not now they’ve run off with grandpa’s retirement money.

It’s not enough any more, guys, to make fantastic errors and then to carry on authoritatively as if nothing just happened. You will be called on it. In some ways, the blogosphere is to MSM punditry what Stewart is to Cramer: an insistent and vulgar demand for some responsibility, some moral and ethical accountabilty for previous decisions and pronouncements.

James Fallows is equally impressed:

Although, improbably, I share a journalistic background with Cramer*, I thought Stewart, without excessive showboating, did the journalistic sensibility proud.

Just before leaving China — ie, two days ago — I saw with my wife the pirate-video version of Frost/Nixon, showing how difficult it is in real time to ask the kind of questions Stewart did. I know, Frost was dealing with a former president. Still, it couldn’t have been easy to do what Stewart just did. Seeing this interview justified the three-day trip in itself.

Dan Rather supposedly had balls. George W Bush supposedly had balls. They’re looking pretty puny next to what we’re seeing from Stewart and Obama. This is a realer kind of steel.

Comments

  1. #1 Coturnix
    March 13, 2009

    Have you seen the uncut version?

  2. #2 Miki
    March 13, 2009

    ‘It was a storming of the Bastille’???

    I don’t know which is worse, the devaluing of what was truly a great historical turning-point or Andrew Sullivan’s crass ignorance in making the comparison. He needs to get some perspective.

    It was a great show though. Jon Stewart has done an excellent and very necessary job.

  3. #3 Yves Roumazeilles
    March 15, 2009

    I think it was better than “storming the Bastille”.

    In some ways, it was similar.

    The Bastille was nearly empty when the crouds stormed it on the 14th of July 1789. Cramer arrived either unprepared (how could he be after 3 days of intense shoutout?) or willing to be taken down.

    The monumental jail did not resist. Neither Cramer (probably because he knows that Stewart is essentially right).

    But there is a big difference. Today, we remember that the Bastille has been taken down, but who could talk about how and who were the individual participants? In The Daily Show, most people will remember the way it was done: Jon Stewart demonstrated that he is much much more than the “comedian” MSNBC and Cramer accused him of being. Instead of pounding on Cramer and opening a war of expletives, he made a great journalist piece. Most provbably, Cramer was not prepared for having the possibility to speak up, being at the receiving end of (another) round of accusations (more personal).

    As several people already remarked. Cramer did not expect it, but Stewart kept pounding until Cramer surrendered. But he always left Cramer the possibility to react. Fair is fair.

    Plain bare journalism.

    Please, show this in schools.

  4. #4 romath
    March 16, 2009

    Are we seeing the beginning of the end of the Me Generation, looking out for #1, even, “I’m OK, you’re OK?” Well, the latter may be yet premature, but here’s to hoping.

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