Saturday, March 7, 2009

Jon Stewart Spoofs CNBC

Jon Stewart was on David Letterman recently and a video is at The Huffington Post. Here's a quote:

"The thing that upsets me the most, honesty, there are three 24-hour financial networks," Stewart complained. "All their slogans are like, 'We know what's going on on Wall Street.' But then you turn it on during the crisis, and they're like, 'We don't know what's going on!' It'd be like turning on The Weather Channel in a hurricane, and they're just doing this: 'Why am I wet? What's happening to me? And it's so windy! What's going on, I'm scared!' How do you not know?

He criticized the three financial channels but I think there is another side. It's a flawed analogy. Funny, the way he says it, but I don't agree.

To explain the weather is not to be God and create weather. Weather reporters merely watch it, report on it and try to explain it.

Similarly, financial journalists understand Wall Street well enough to report what is going on, not fix it or change it. Financial journalists did not create the financial instruments and structures they are reporting on. They are watching it, too, and they do try to explain what's going on. But they aren't God, and they don't have all the answers. They aren't paid what investment bankers are paid. Economists don't understand and agree either.

Financial journalists report on finances just as sportscasters report on sports. On-air anchors may joke that they change the direction of the market, but that's very unclear. The market moves on news and emotion, it's true, but lots of other things, too, like data, charts, and external unpredictable shocks. Financial journalists don't have the easiest jobs and they are, with few exceptions, extremely skilled, experienced and impressively well-educated.

Do sportscasters make the salaries of sports greats? Do you think Jon Stewart and all his writers thought through this spoof?

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