While the dust may have settled from the two and a half segment interview between Jon Stewart and Mad Money’s Jim Cramer from CNBC on Thursday, I doubt that anyone could be satisfied with what has occurred in the aftermath. The press reaction to what was said has proven that financial news as entertainment or infotainment harms society and impacts the level of conversation and discourse severely.
Nearly a week later, has anyone seen signs that CNBC is going to return to the fundamentals of reporting? Is CNBC going to hire a few vibrant muckrakers to boost ratings and break the monotony that financial tickers and incessant talk of financial data creates on the network?
For the most part, it seems like financial "journalists" who appear on television are embedded in this crisis like journalists were embedded in the U.S. military during the Iraq War. There seems to be an understood agreement (or maybe a contractual obligation) to not beat up on Wall Street, to not fan the flames of populism.
A coalition of outspoken media critics and progressives has formed and continues to form under the name, “Fix CNBC.” In response to Jon Stewart's Edward R. Murrow-esque interview, the coalition calls upon Americans to push “CNBC to do strong, watchdog journalism.”
A petition invites Americans to urge CNBC to ask tough questions to Wall Street, debunk lies, and report the truth instead of conducting “PR for Wall Street” and instead of being “obsessed with getting “access” to failed CEOs,” which has to the willfull passing on of misinformation to the public for years.
But, can CNBC or any network be reformed? Why should Americans seek to reform CNBC?
First, we need to ask ourselves if we the people need a financial news network to, on a 24 hour basis with 17 hours of live television, report what is happening in the current financial crisis. News outlets traditionally have existed because people want to consume the journalism being put out by those who work at the outlet.