Mar. 14th, 2009

inbhirnis: (Default)
The big buzz on the telly here has been Jon Stewart (a comedian) doing what our journalists seem incapable of doing, taking to task the utter craven-ness of financial 'reporting' in the run-up to our great crash of 2008, where financial channels such as CNBC aired fawning interviews with CEOs and told everyone to buy, buy, BUY even when the whole house of cards was about to fall down.

It was perhaps CNBC 'journalist' Rick Santelli, who first attracted The Daily Show's attention when he ranted on the floor of the stock market about bailing out 'loser' mortgage holders (while delivering no such rant against the gazillions being poured in to keep the banks that provided the shaky mortgages in the first place - this is a terrific video clip - watch it all). From there, Stewart has been mauling one Jim Cramer of CNBC's "Mad Money" show (title really tells you all you need to know about the show), and this week, there's been something of a tit for tat over the airwaves between the two, culminating in Cramer's utter humiliation in the video above.

But - that's not what I wanted to memorialize in this post. Stewart rightly was praised for asking hard questions about these financial shows being basically stenographers for the industry, rather than starting from an investigative/skeptical point of view. They uncritically aired everything these captains of industry told them, and didn't research the rosy profit reports.

Now - the same media that is praising Stewart needs to turn the mirror on themselves and examine their stenography during the Bush years. Glenn Greenwald of Slate has an article that articulates it better than I can - he focuses in on the infamous Niger yellowcake incident and shows how our big name political journalists were/are just as uncritical as the financial twits at CNBC, allowing themselves to be used so obviously by the administration in the dissemination of the story. And, quite shockingly, there's a quote at the end of the piece where someone in the Washington Post says in so many words that their role is simply to regurgitate what they're told, and not to investigate since that might spark a debate - oh, the horror!

Dear media - your job is to investigate what the powerful are saying and doing, not simply to reprint it. I can get a press release for that. Your starting point should be skepticism and verification. Somewhere, Murrow is spinning in his grave.

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