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What Battered Newsrooms Can Learn From Stewart's CNBC Takedown

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JohnyCanuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 08:50 AM
Original message
What Battered Newsrooms Can Learn From Stewart's CNBC Takedown
By Will Bunch

Author, "Tear Down This Myth"
Posted March 5, 2009 | 11:26 PM (EST)


The most talked-about journalism of this week wasn't produced in the New York Times, CNN, Newsweek or NPR. It was Jon Stewart's epic, eight-minute takedown on Wednesday night's Daily Show of CNBC's clueless, in-the-tank reporting of inflatable bubbles and blowhard CEOs as the U.S. and world economies slowly slid into a meltdown. You can quibble about Stewart's motives in undertaking the piece -- after he was spurned for an interview by CNBC's faux populist ranter Rick Santelli -- but you can't argue with the results.

The piece wasn't just the laugh-out-loud funniest thing on TV all week (and this was a week in which NBC rebroadcast the SNL "more cowbell" sketch, so that's saying a lot) but it was exquisitely reported, insightful, and it tapped into America's real anger about the financial crisis in a way that mainstream journalism has found so elusive all these months, in a time when we all need to be tearing down myths. As one commenter on the Romenesko blog noted, "it's simply pathetic that one has to watch a comedy show to see things like this."

But that's not all. The Stewart piece also got the kind of eyeballs that most newsrooms would kill for in this digital age -- planted atop many, many major political, media and business Web sites -- and the kind of water-cooler chatter that journalists would crave in any age. In a time when newspapers are flat-out dying if not dealing with bankruptcy or massive job losses, while other types of news orgs aren't faring much better, the journalistic success of a comedy show rant shouldn't be viewed as a stick in the eye -- but a teachable moment. Why be a curmudgeon about kids today getting all their news from a comedy show, when it's not really that hard to join Stewart in his own idol-smashing game?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/will-bunch/what-battered-...
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juno jones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 09:28 AM
Response to Original message
1. K&R! n/t
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tsuki Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 09:32 AM
Response to Original message
2. While I loved the CNBC sketch, Doom Bunker had me rolling.
"What if the Congress were Werewolves?"

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Lex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 12:18 AM
Response to Reply #2
17. same here
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Norrin Radd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 03:09 AM
Response to Reply #2
22. Yeah, Colbert and his writing staff deserve some attention for that
smackdown of Glen Beck as well, and Maddow's piece on Burson-Marsteller was eye-opening.
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tsuki Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 08:46 AM
Response to Reply #22
24. I loved the General playing deadpan to Colbert. "Steven, there
are no werewolves."

Then Colbert does the Republican thing, talk over the general and reiterate his TP.

:rofl:
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 10:46 AM
Response to Original message
3. You gotta wonder if the corpo media's death is due to the corpo/fascist crap they print & broadcast
"In a time when newspapers are flat-out dying if not dealing with bankruptcy or massive job losses, while other types of news orgs aren't faring much better, the journalistic success of a comedy show rant shouldn't be viewed as a stick in the eye -- but a teachable moment."

I remember around the time of the invasion of Iraq, picking up a newspaper and having this sense of deadness in its pages. It was just...dull. The same old columnists with the same old false pictures of them in their youth--George Will, Richard Cohen, Thomas Friedman, et al. They must all be dead by now, I thought--and maybe they were. Maybe they had actually kicked the bucket, and the same old recycled tripe was still being scooped from the same toilets at the American Enterprise Institute, and funneled into the column spaces under the names of columnists who were actually dead. They all sounded alike anyway (dull tripe!), and they might as well have been from the same latrine. But, really, poop has more life than these dead writers, and the phony, hypocritical, pseudojournalistic imitation of 'news' articles--pretty much State Department and Pentagon cut'n'pastes--on the other pages, next to the bras 'n' panties ads -- had just gotten so obvious. You'd think the slaughter in Iraq would have been like a shot of pure adrenalin...and it was, sort of like Frankenstein getting juiced--zap, fsszt, zap, fsszt, zap, zap!--only not nearly as endearing as Frankenstein, cuz in this case it was the Zombie Walk of the Undead. At least Frankenstein had consciousness.

Even their little frenzies of excitement--"suspicious powder found in Iraq barn!"--"Al Qaeda's second in command" gets blown away by those "smarty pants bombs" of ours for the third, fourth...tenth time!'--or blonds in peril--read like daydreams out of the 9th Circle of Hell. 'This must be what life in the real world was like,' they seemed to be crying from dimming memories and fond wishes--our guys find the WMDs, our bombs get 'em again, our blonds are saved by our heroics and very grateful. And the rich shall be first, and the peons shall the last--as it should be. And the bras and the panties laced through it all.

So I stopped reading the newspaper and found DU. Now I only read occasional snippets, to rip it apart with penetrating analysis, or have a good laugh. Dead newspapers are memos from hell. That's why I don't read them. And now the classifieds are equally dead--no jobs, no money to buy anything anyway, and even the singles ads don't convey "change we can believe in."

So why don't they let their imprisoned reporters loose, to rip this society, and its pathetic democracy, and the hideous Bushwhacks and the collusive Dumbocrats to shreds? Maybe they'll find new life. Although you get the feeling they want to "drown" American journalism "in the bathtub" just like Grover Norquist wants to do to our government. You can tell they don't believe in the free marketplace of ideas. They would rather cram dull, dead shit down our throats, and go bankrupt, than risk real reporting.

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JohnyCanuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 11:05 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Good rant! n/t
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 11:26 AM
Response to Reply #3
6. Print and broadcast media run scared when advertising revenues are threatened.
That cat box liner lives and dies on advertising, NOT subscriptions. It doesn't take but a handful of corporate advertisers to control a major metropolitan newspaper.
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Kalyke Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 03:01 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. When I was reporting for a newspaper, the journalism staff
detested the advertising staff and, quite frankly, never listened to them or gave a damn what advertisers we might piss off.

Of course, I haven't worked in a newsroom full time in nine years (I did freelance for a time, but from home), so I don't know if all that changed during the Bush Error.
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beac Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 01:42 AM
Response to Reply #9
21. Ah yes, the old "Chinese Wall" seems to have crumbled completely away.
Corporations bought up media outlets and turned them into an arm of their marketing departments.
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Downwinder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 10:54 PM
Response to Reply #6
15. Advertising lives and dies on subscriptions.
You need news to get subscriptions to get advertising.
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SpiralHawk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 05:36 PM
Response to Reply #3
11. Exactly: "corpo media's death is due to the corpo/fascist crap they push"
By now only the brain dead can fail to realize the spin and propaganda and general pap and crap coming out of corpo media, which serves only corpo media and Republicon Homelanderism.

Forget truth. Forget the American people. Corpo media has no interest in serving either.

So they have rendered themselves irrelevant.
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Beetwasher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 08:57 PM
Response to Reply #3
13. Oh My
Bravo! Well done! :thumbsup:
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KharmaTrain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 11:19 AM
Response to Original message
5. The Watering Down Of The Corporate Media
Right now the most common sound in newsrooms are knocking knees...people worried that they'll be the next victim of consolidating or "economizing" the operation. This is especially the case now that all media are imploding under decreasing revenues, nosediving stock prices and heavy debt.

For the past 20 years, we've seen a downscaling of reporting and reporters. Networks that used to staff full foreign bureaus and newsrooms in major American cities scaled back to "pool reports" or sending a small crew to handle what a huge staff used to. The network bureaus in Saigon during Vietnam were among the largest in the world...and brought the war into living rooms. In Iraq, "downsized" news operations airlifted reporters in and out with less frequency as the dangers grew and the ratings and interest declined.

Stewart nailed the creation of a new "media" in recent years...an electronic animal that put flash instead of substance. CNBC did to business what MTV did to music and radio...it made it a visual medium...where theatrics rather than performance mattered. The need to keep viewers entertained rather than informed became modus operendi and then this entertainment was distorted, as in the case with CNBC, to manipulate viewers into believing they were getting inside information rather than one non-stop bullshit sales pitch.

Our news media is extremely compromised...its weighted down to the bottom line, while shows like TDS and places like the blogs have filled the void of credible information and analysis. Thank goodness for people like Jon Stewart and the growing number of great Americans...comedians, bloggers, investigative reporters, progressive talk show hosts...even DU posters...who have punctured a big hole in what was once a monolithic corporate media that enabled the political and financial ruin of our society.
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Cetacea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 01:29 AM
Response to Reply #5
20. Good post.
And regarding MTV: there was actually a time when people would gather together and LISTEN to music. When MTV came about, people began to talk over the videos and eventually the art of listening to music was lost to nearly all but the audiophiles. AT least in groups, anyways.
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Rockholm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 06:30 AM
Response to Reply #5
23. I hope most of that chattering class is show the door.
They are doing their best to talk the economy down and have doing so for a couple of years now. They trash the auto companies daily but never really trash the banks (just their payrolls). CNN, MSNBC, I guess FOX (never watch), and the others don't need the advertising revenue from GM, Chrysler and Ford. Once that dries up, I would guess a couple of talking heads would go bye-bye. The more the economy tanks, the more they become too expensive and just as expendable as the rest of us.
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ddeclue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 11:26 AM
Response to Original message
7. proud to k and r this one
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flyarm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 02:56 PM
Response to Original message
8. how about Stewart's take down of the Obama administration and
their phony transparency the very next day??????? will the media pick up on that as well..Jon Slammed the Obama presser..who was on his show and the pre-authorized questions he was only supposed to ask! He even had Helen Thomas on to prove his point!
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Pastiche423 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 04:40 PM
Response to Original message
10. K&R!
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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 08:56 PM
Response to Original message
12. They could learn that they've been part of the problem, not the solution.
but I'm not holding my breath.
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dbmk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 09:18 PM
Response to Original message
14. Fact-finding!
A breakthrough in journalistic approach...
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proReality Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 10:57 PM
Response to Original message
16. K&R n/t
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madrchsod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 12:28 AM
Response to Original message
18. Muckrackers.....
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defendandprotect Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 01:22 AM
Response to Original message
19. I LOVED it -- and so obviously needing to be said --- !!!
but no one else said it --- !!!
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pacalo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 09:33 AM
Response to Original message
25. The corporations can buy up the newspapers & tv news, but they can't force people to buy it.
A K&R for Jon Stewart.
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gtar100 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 10:48 AM
Response to Reply #25
27. And that in a nutshell is the fallacy of supply side economics.
Have to give people what they want. Yes, people want to be entertained, reassured, and outraged at injustice. But the bottom line is, we want the truth. To be lied to takes all the air out of everything else they do to keep our attention.
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pacalo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 12:05 PM
Response to Reply #27
28. Exactly. Give them the truth & they will come.
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2Design Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 09:53 AM
Response to Original message
26. this was great n/t
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