The confrontation between Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer, host of CNBC's "Mad Money," on Comedy Central's "Daily Show" in which the latter delivered a pathetically poor performance was a hot topic on cable and in the blogosphere last week. Everywhere, that is, except on MSNBC where the hosts were strangely silent about this encounter. Were the MSNBC hosts under orders to keep silent about this since the parent NBC company didn't want to harm the credibility and ratings of a CNBC host? According to TVNewser, this was likely the case:
A TVNewser tipster tells us MSNBC producers were asked not to incorporate the Jim Cramer/Jon Stewart interview into their shows today. In fact, the only time it came up on MSNBC was during the White House briefing, when a member of the press corps asked Press Secretary Robert Gibbs if Pres. Obama watched. Gibbs wasn't sure if the president had, but Gibbs did. "I enjoyed it thoroughly," the Press Secretary said.
On Cramer's network, CNBC, the subject has only come up twice today, including when master marketer/CNBC personality Donny Deutsch brought it up briefly around 1pm on "Power Lunch." "I'm a huge Jon Stewart fan," said Deutsch, "He does what he does he does his job. But I'm also a huge Jim Cramer fan. He sticks up for the little guy, he cares, he puts his neck out, and I respect that. I respect both those guys."
Cramer appeared on his regular "Stop Trading" segment during "Street Signs." But the Daily Show did not come up. With anchor Erin Burnett in Washington, the discussion was about banking policy and the Federal Reserve, ending with Cramer saying, "Ben Bernanke's got the magic." (A far cry from Cramer's "Wake-Up" call to Bernanke in August '07.)
As a result of an uncharacteristic silence by the MSNBC "Countdown" host, Keith Olbermann, the Kossacks over at the Daily Kos have become quite upset. So upset that Keith Olbermann himself posted an explanation/excuse at the Daily Kos for keeping mum on the Stewart/Cramer confrontation that reeked of "Thou dost protest too much." Shortly before Olbermann appeared on the air Friday, a Kossack with the screen name of "crystal eyes" posted a "moment of truth challenge" to both Olbermann and fellow MSNBC host, Rachel Maddow:
Rachel and Keith are just hours away from a very important moment.
All their talk about Edward R. Murrow, the importance of a free press, and telling truth to power comes to a test in how each of these news programs are going to cover the Stewart/Cramer smackdown.
The cable news networks are giving the story a very light coverage in both tv reporting and website coverage.
I think last night's Stewart interview is a historic classic confrontation of corporate news bias that deserves to be in our history books for generations to come.
Although "crystal eyes" engaged in a bit of hyberole with that last comment, for the Kossacks Stewart/Cramer seems to laughably rank up there with Lincoln/Douglas. Meanwhile both Olbermann and Maddow were again reminded of their journalistic responsibility to report on the confrontation:
I will be watching Keith and Rachel closely tonight in hopes of seeing the clip of Stewart's interview, and the 2006 clip of Cramer admitting to questionable practices.
If this story is ignored, or given a light touch in passing such a Best Person in the World, we will know that even our best and bravest news shows have been significantly censored. We will know that Keith and Rachel are not free to report on the compormised state of television journalism in America.
Please Keith and Rachel, take a page from Jon Stewart and hit it out of the park tonight, or it will be a very sad day for television journalism in Mudville.
If not now, then when.... will someone join Jon Stewart in standing up and speaking truth to the networks?
So did the two MSNBC hosts pass their Stewart/Cramer test? The results are in with Maddow barely passing and Olbermann outright flunking the journalistic integrity test as set up by the Kossacks:
The results are in..
Rachel mentioned the "dust up", gave a link to the video, and showed the Robert Gibbs reaction.
Keith- No mention and he has commented in this diary that he did not feel the story to be especially news worthy, and he has been under no pressure from management to suppress the story.
And here is Keith Olbermann himself on this thread lamely explaining his complete on-air silence on this matter:
The assumption that we would automatically do a story on a story Jon Stewart did is not a good one.
There is no interaction between his show and mine, and while it's possible that we did some significant segments on any of his previous smackdowns or vivisections (as good as they might have been), I don't remember when that would've been. So it's either not happened, or it hasn't happened in a long time.
Also the premise of corporate no-touch orders to keep what happened "quiet" is silly. That horse (in fact, an entire stable-full) left that barn as soon as the video hit the internet. My understanding is Rachel's doing a little something on this.
There is also - and of course I know this from being on the other end - the element of competitive gamesmanship about this. If there had been anybody of Cramer's heft on Fox Business, subjected to Stewart's hammering, I don't know that ABC, CBS and Fox would've been quite so interested in covering it. Conversely, I recall Stewart doing a lot of hammering of Foxies and it's not like I've turned all of those into 10-minute segments on this show.
Oh please! Anybody who watches Olbermann and his ranting obsession with Fox News knows that if a Fox Business host had been savaged to the extent of Cramer on the "Daily Show," could be sure that Keith would have featured it along with large servings of gloat. Your humble correspondent doesn't buy Olbermann's poor excuse and, apparently, neither do many Kossacks as you can see in these reactions:
Keith's talked himself out of so many jobs over the years, I'm not surprised that he chickened out.
Keith is part of the problem and...NOT the solution!
Keith, with all due respect, a post on TVNewswer by a right-winger doesn't alter the fact that this story was not covered by MSNBC today. All you had to do was to rely on your own eyes to see that MSNBC had an almost total black-out of the story.
Olbermann seems to have been so upset about the Kossack aspersions cast upon his crediblity that he came back with yet another post to establish his loony left credentials:
I threw Santelli in twice to Worst Persons, played clips, and called him "Sick Rantelli" - an internet nickname bestowed upon him from way before his Marie Antoinette moment... and I never heard a word of criticism from management.
So Keith is bragging that he can call people names as well as the worst of the anonymous Daily Kos posters. However, the Kossacks were still not buying it:
If you really had the freedom to cover this and chose not to, then that was a very bad decision on your part because in my eyes, you lost credibility today and I know I'm not alone.
Keith, much as it pains me to say it, this is the first time I can honestly say that I don't think you are being entirely honest and truthful about a situation.
Bullsh!t Keith, you are so full of it. I can't believe you would try and claim the story is not newsworthy! How am I supposed to believe that, when your show spends five minutes a night covering American Idol? You bill your show as "what news people will be talking about tomorrow." Stewart-Cramer was hands down THE BIGGEST news story of the day -- it was all anyone was talking about. I don't buy your BS, not for one minute. You, SIR, are part of the problem. You're no better than Cramer.
Ouch! So painful was this criticism for Olbermann that he returned yet again; this time to attack TVNewser for reporting that the MSNBC hosts were ordered to keep mum on the Stewart/Cramer confrontation:
I've been at the Mets game all day.
So I'm reading the TVNewser post for the first time.
Frankly, the guy who posted this, the site's Associate Editor, Steve Krakauer ("SteveK"), is well known around the industry as being entirely in Fox's pocket.
His "MSNBC producers have been told" not to mention this, is, frankly, bullshit.
Have a look at his posts on this otherwise successfully neutral site: they are Fox News and Fox Business Channel press release rewrites, and anonymous criticisms from "industry sources" of people at CNN and MSNBC.
The Fox Business stuff is particularly egregious and particularly relevant to this. If a newspaper with a circulation of 500 people runs a feature on somebody on that channel, SteveK summarizes it, posts a picture from it, posts a link to it. I mean, seriously, if there's been any publicity for this channel that has yet to get a measurable audience after a year on the air (that means they're under 15,000 viewers), that hasn't gotten a link on TVNewser courtesy SteveK, it'd be a shocking upset.
Rachel could get the cover of Newsweek and he wouldn't link to it.
So, did Stewart do a good job? Obviously. Did we get ordered not to run it? Nope. Was stirring up rumors about a ban in the interest of a Foxophilic blogger with the credibility of a bush league Drudge? You bet.
A) I'm not going to publicize a Fox-controlled blogger at a low-volume site on national television.
B) I'm not going to spend part of a show, for fear of having to spend part of every show, explaining why I gate-kept on a particular story.
C) If I am going to devote even that much time to the story, I'm going to show a clip of Stewart, or a clip of me taking down Santelli, or something on the issue, not the issue about the issue.
D) Back to one of my original points: we do in fact give weight to stories based on how much they are covered by the older newscasts and organizations. In other words, if it's going to be on ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, etc., that brings it down a notch in our evaluation of its worthiness in our show. Our show is primarily about trying to give airtime to stories that are not on ABC, CBS, CNN, and Fox.
E) There is more in "D" than just seeking novelty. I truly believe in the marketplace of ideas. If two network newscasts with a combined 10 times my audience are doing this story, the thing is being yelled about adequately in the marketplace.
F) If I had to quell all rumors about me or the show, that's all the show would be...
Despite Olbermann's vigorous protestations, Kossack disillusionment with their erstwhile hero continued to pour in:
If Keith thinks that's unimportant than he is surprisingly dumb. However, I don't believe that is the case. I believe Keith sold out to his bosses to save his ass. He and Rachel were obviously threatened by corporate executives. They acquiesed. Everyone can be bought if the price is right. KO sold out!!
Keith you've wasted plenty of hours of TV time spouting off on things one could consider not "newsworthy" and yet here is a potential home run tee'd up just waiting to be blasted out of the park and you won't come out and play. You're silence speaks volumes...SIR.
I notice that nobody on MSNBC ever gets "worst persons" its only Fox people and Lou Dobbs. Sometimes I also wonder if he would have the guts to report an important story that MSNBC tells him not to.
So it turns out that Keith Olbermann is willing to "speak truth to power"...except when that power is signing his paychecks.
You can read even more Kossack anger directed at Olbermann in the DUmmie FUnnies.