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Debate Emerges Over Media’s Role in Financial Meltdown

Comedian and "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart held a high-profile sparring match with CNBC's Jim Cramer this week over the cable network's coverage in the lead up to the Wall Street meltdown. A panel of business writers weighs the media's role in the economic crisis.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Next, the news media and the meltdown. Jeffrey Brown has our Media Unit story.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Who done it and who might have prevented it? We've talked here about anger aimed at Wall Street CEOs and government regulators, among others. One other occasional target has been the media.

    This week, late-night comedian Jon Stewart poked some very pointed humor at the business cable network CNBC. Last night, he mixed it up with the network's Jim Cramer, host of a program called "Mad Money." Here's an edited excerpt.

    JON STEWART, Host, "The Daily Show": It's the gap between what CNBC advertises itself as and what it is and the help that people need to discern this. Let me show you. This is the promo for your show.

  • JIM CRAMER, CNBC Anchor:

    OK.

  • JON STEWART:

    All right. So this is Jim Cramer's promo.

  • ANNOUNCER:

    In an economy of freefall, investments on the brink, when you don't know what to do, don't panic: Cramer's got your back. "Mad Money" with Jim Cramer.

  • JON STEWART:

    Isn't that, you know — look, we're both snake oil salesman to a certain extent.

  • JIM CRAMER:

    I'm not disagreeing.

  • JON STEWART:

    But we do label the show at snake oil here.

  • JIM CRAMER:

    I think that there are two kinds of people. There are people who come out and they make good calls and bad calls, and they're financial professionals. And then there's the people who say they only make good calls, and they're liars. I try really hard to make as many good calls as I can.

  • JON STEWART:

    When you talk about the regulators, why not the financial news network? That's the whole point of this. CNBC could be an incredibly powerful tool of illumination.

    It feels like we are capitalizing your adventure by our pension and our hard-earned — and that it is a game that you know, that you know is going on, but that you go on television as a financial network and pretend isn't happening.

  • JIM CRAMER:

    OK. First — my first reaction is, absolutely, we could do better, absolutely. There are shenanigans, and we should call them out. Everyone should; I should do a better job at it.

    As a network, we produce a lot of interviews where I think that we've been — there have been people who've not told the truth. Should we have been constantly pointing out the mistakes that were made? Absolutely. I truly wish we had done more.

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