From a viral video to an online petition campaign, the Jon Stewart smackdown of the hapless Jim Cramer has spawned quite the kerfuffle. As an Associated Press story describes it: “Some liberal political activists and economists are seizing on comedian Jon Stewart’s attacks of CNBC to push an online petition drive urging the network to be tougher on Wall Street leaders.”
According to the website put up by the organizers, FixCNBC.com, the petition has attracted more than 15,000 signatures as this is being written. So what are we to say of all this? A wholesome exercise in media criticism? An earnest effort in promotion of journalistic excellence?
Well … no. Actually, the whole affair is little more than a kind of “would you believe” gambit by people whose reason for being is the promotion of their ideological beliefs. Truly, if there were a Madame Tussauds of the American Left, virtually all the organizations and individuals involved in Fix CNBC would be found there: Free Press, Robert McChesney, Media Matters for America, Eric Alterman, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. The list goes on and on.
Like the conservative Brent Bozell’s minions at the Media Research Center, the only interest these people have in the media is as vehicles through which they may spread their political ideas. That, and nothing else. Not the public interest in quality journalism, nor in any kind of objective coverage of news and public affairs. And most certainly not in any sophisticated and even-handed coverage of the financial and economic crisis.
So far the network has not responded directly either to the Fix CNBC organizers, or to Jon Stewart. It will be interesting to see if they can maintain that posture, or if, given the temper of the times, they are obliged to treat the subject of their alleged malfeasance as though it had merit, and issued from people of independent character.
Interesting too will be the response to this flap of others in the media. On those occasions in the past when conservatives have organized similar protests, their activities have been condemned as heavy-handed if not positively threatening to freedom of the press. But of course those were conservatives while these are "progressives," so who knows?