Sunday, March 15, 2009

Martin Peretz Is So Clueless

He completely misunderstands why Jim Cramer is on the air at CNBC. The network's demographic isn't middle-class investors. Plus, he doesn't get Jon Stewart's Daily Show's crucial satirical function in American society:
I've known Jim for more than 30 years. We've had spats two times. He was responsible once. I, the other. I've done business with him and made money with him. And we started The together. He is a trusted and loving friend.

He is now being battered in the press. Mostly by people whose careers are built on ridiculing others. I happened to have watched the "Mad Money" show in which he spoke about Bear Stearns. He did not not not not say that you needn't worry if you had stock in Bear Stearns. He said you need not worry if you had a brokerage account with Bear Stearns. That was true... and still is true. But we all utter silly enough words in the ordinary course of life that we don't have to invent them, and Jim has his share of them. I do, too.

What I think has happened between Cramer and part of the entertainment industry--which the fact and opinion industry is fast coming to resemble--is that Jim is actually animated by a passion. It is the passion of democratic capitalism. That concern is very different from the concerns of the $10-20 million television comedians who ride around in stretch limousines. Those folk are happy when the people are in trouble. Even Jon Stewart and the makers of his "Daily Show" are happy. Jim Fallows, an always righteous commentator (like his ex-boss Jimmy Carter), has elevated him to Edward R. Murrow who was also over-rated in his time.

The folk Cramer has been trying to help all these years with "Mad Money" are basically middle class investors.
This just shows that, like so many other elite folks, Martin Peretz thinks he's middle-class, but isn't. Like Gabriel Winant noted:
CNBC's audience is not a demographic cross section of America. If it was a cross section, the network wouldn't make any money; CNBC attracts advertisers not with the size of its audience but with its maleness and its affluence. The network gets about a quarter million viewers a day, a tiny fraction of the U.S. population, but those viewers have a median household net worth of more than $1.2 million. Still, the financial pundits flatter viewers into thinking, as Rick Santelli put it during his famous trading floor rant, that they are "a pretty good statistical cross-section of America." For these guys, investors are America. Jim Cramer asked at one point, of the Obama administration, "Who do they think owns stocks?" As if the obvious answer is, "Everybody!"

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