Thursday, March 12, 2009

Web 2.0, Accountability, and When Two Tribes Go to War

I've been watching with delight the cable brawl going on between Jon Stewart (Comedy Central) and Jim Cramer (CNBC). As a child of the 80s, I think the theme song to the skirmish should be Frankie Goes to Hollywood's Two Tribes. Younger readers may recall a Frankie reference from the show Friends.

The show is airing this very second on the east coast, but the lowdown was already leaked. For me, part of the power of Web 2.0 is more accountability. The feud with Stewart in this era of financial meltdown was dangerous ground for the likes of Stewart and his (and Colbert's) penchant for digging up clips to hang the "guilty" with their own soundbites. In a prior era, these may have gone quietly, but in Web 2.0, content from 2006 not only can spring to life again, but it can go viral. Like this gem, where Cramer admits to manipulating the market, albeit legally:

CNN and others reported on how Jim freely admits that creating fictions is part of the game violating the very spirit of SEC regulations that allegedly protect the "sanctity" of the markets. Tom Davis (former R-VA congressman) wants him investigated:
Cramer says he played fair and is claiming to have relied on his Harvard Law degree to make sure he was on the up-and-up.

Nevertheless, Cramer was on every show his PR people could get him booked on. He was slated to be on the Daily Show on Thursday and expressed his nervousness on the Martha Stewart Show.

Jon Stewart makes an excellent point. He's a satirist. He's not a "journalist" in the traditional sense, but through his comedy, he holds public and media figures accountable for what they do. Perhaps he's in the spirit of Hunter S. Thompson's "gonzo" school, as opposed to a more prim-and-proper factual mode, I nevertheless think he has more guts and is more hard-hitting than any big media journalist could ever be. The big ideas for me:
  • Jon Stewart is out journalisming the journalists
  • Jon Stewart is using media content (clips) to skewer mis- and disinformation
  • Media content (clips) are increasingly in the hands of users
  • Media convergence is allowing clips to go online & go viral
  • Web 2.0 is forcing a transparency holding public and media figures accountable

I got a report from the East coast on the show and it does deliver. The link to the Cramer Daily Show isn't posted yet, but will eventually be here. I love this:
"Stewart said he and Cramer are both snake-oil salesman, only 'The Daily Show' is labeled as such. He claimed CNBC shirked its journalistic duty by believing corporate lies, rather than being an investigative "powerful tool of illumination." And he alleged CNBC was ultimately in bed with the businesses it covered — that regular people's stocks and 401Ks were 'capitalizing on your adventure.'" --Jake Coyle, AP

1 comment:

Jose Marichal said...

Love the Hunter S. reference. I think Colbert is more in the Gonzo tradition. He plays it totally straight. I love Tim and Eric Awesome Show on the cartoon network for the same reason, but they don't really do political satire.