Station Break: Pop Culture and More

Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 17, 2009; 1:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Paul Farhi was online Tuesday, March 17, at 1 p.m. ET to talk about the latest news, personalities and trends from the world of pop culture.

Today's Topics: Can female stars like Angelina Jolie or Jennifer Anniston ever beat male stars at the box office? The World Baseball Classic -- it's the Olympics/World Cup/Name Your International Competition of America's favorite pastime, yet no one seems to care. Why? Plus, the last word on Cramer versus Stewart.

Farhi has been a reporter at the Post for 21 years. He writes about TV, radio and totally random other subjects for the Style section.

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A transcript follows.

Farhi is a reporter in The Post's Style section, writing about media and popular culture. He's been watching TV and listening to the radio since "The Monkees" were in first run and Adam West was a star. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Los Angeles, Farhi had brief stints in the movie business (as an usher at the Picwood Theater), and in the auto industry (rental car lot guy) before devoting himself full-time to word processing. His car has 15 radio pre-sets and his cable system has 500 channels. He vows to use all of them for good instead of evil.

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Paul Farhi: Greetings, all...A couple things: 1) Was down in So. Fla. over the weekend and watched a couple of the World Baseball Classic games in Miami. The WBC is supposed to be baseball's World Cup or Olympics or whatever international sports equivalent you can name. Great Major League players, great teams. And yet: the crowds were sparse, extremely so in the case of the first game (Venezuela vs. Netherlands) and moderately so in the second game (U.S. vs. Puerto Rico), with fans of the Latin/Caribbean teams dominant in both cases. This has been generally true since the WBC started in '06 (average attendance this year is 18,000-plus, though most of that was from strong support in Tokyo). What gives? Is baseball NOT the international sport we think it is?...2) What happened to Jim Cramer when he met Jon Stewart the other night? That had to be one of the wimpiest performances ever by an experienced TV talking head. CNBC must be extremely disappointed that Cramer, a very smart and savvy guy, basically surrendered, allowing Stewart to run wild. As for Stewart, this was almost as silly a performance as his "you're ruining America" performance with Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson back when. They're ruining America by blowing hot air about politics? Similarly, is CNBC responsible for the economic mess? Stewart seemed to imply that...

Let's go to the phones...


Brooklyn, N.Y.: Hi Paul: I don't see how the state of the media will ever get better when so many people on the right just don't operate. To wit: Tucker Carlson calling Jon Stewart a partisan hack while he claimed not to be one; John King's sycophantic interview on CNN with Dick Cheney; Chip Reid from CBS getting exercised about Robert Gibbs making a sarcastic remark about Cheney after Cheney bashed the president, Rush Limbaugh's CPAC speech televised on CNN as if he were the president and Fox News using a Joe Biden quote from September and claiming he said it over the weekend. What liberal media are people talking about?

Paul Farhi: I'm sorry if some people don't like what's on sale at the marketplace of ideas, but I still think there's a wide variety of goods on offer. Left, right, center, etc.


Laurel, Md.: I don't think it's fair, as Cohen implies, to say that Jon Stewart is scapegoating the media. CNBC bills itself as so knowledgeable about the markets, then lets these jokers go on air and make predictions and say things that are completely wrong, and they're so hung up on themselves they "fight back" when Jon says anything about them. They are ridiculous and thank goodness we have the Daily Show to call these losers out. Richard Cohen Op-Ed: Don't Blame Jim Cramer (Post, March 17)

Paul Farhi: The problem was, CNBC (or Jim Cramer, at least) DIDN'T fight back. I liked Stewart's first piece (on Rick Santelli's showboating about "loser" homeowners getting bailed out), but I thought he got just as self-righteous as Santelli in his second and more brutal hatcheting of CNBC.


Fairfax, Va.: Have you seen the latest Comcast ad campaign on TV (Comcast -- Dream Big)? It has a person singing in a monotone, with very interesting animation. Your opinion: dumb campaign or best acid trip in years?

Paul Farhi: Absolutely arresting animation. Lame, atonal jingle(s). But it does get your attention and compel you to listen to whatever it is they're singing about...


WBC: I am a huge baseball fan, but I couldn't care less about the WBC. It just seems like spring training to me.

Paul Farhi: Have you no national pride? Don't you realize that the honor of a great baseball-playing nation is on the line? (I am speaking, of course, about the Dominican Republic, which has already been eliminated)...


Can female stars like Angelina Jolie or Jennifer Anniston ever beat male stars at the box office?: I think so. Ever since this country elected a black man with an ethnic name to be president, I have believe anything is possible! Makes me feel hopeful for the women.

Paul Farhi: Thanks for taking that one up. I think the answer is really no on this one. As long as men control movie choices, as long as men insist on seeing idiot comic-book action movies over and over, actresses will always be second class. Another factor: Female stars, with extremely rare exceptions, have much shorter careers than men.

_______________________ Hollywood's Men Are Mostly Where the Action Is (Post, March 15)


Gainesville, Fla.: Thanks for such a great article, Paul! These are things that need to be discussed more. My boyfriend and I are both movie lovers and feminists, and love to see movies like "Rachel Getting Married" and "Revolutionary Road" that had great roles for women, and -- especially with Revolutionary Road -- dealt with issues like reproductive rights.

Which brings me to my point -- movies like "Twilight" and "He's Just Not That Into You" aren't the kinds of movies I'm hoping to see Hollywood making more of. Women don't just want romantic comedies or princess stories. I want an identifiable female lead who is interesting and textured and isn't just supporting a man or protecting a child. Those are things women do, but those aren't all women aspire to. The KINDS of movies being made with female leads matters. Twilight is horribly anti-feminist, for instance. I loved "Slumdog Millionaire" but Latika has zero personality and is not interesting at all. So it's about more than who is up there with the guys on the list, it's about what movies they're making. More women behind the camera would be great, too. At least, that's my opinion. Do you agree? Hollywood's Men Are Mostly Where the Action Is (Post, March 15)

Paul Farhi: I agree, but only in part. As I get older, I have become less interested in "man" movies ("Ironman," "Spiderman," "Batman," etc.) and more interested in the kinds of movies you're talking about. (Don't get me wrong--I love a good war pic; just ask my long-suffering wife). But this isn't about ME. It's about the movie-going public, which IS interested in the kinds of movies that I don't really care about. And since Hollywood is a business designed to appeal to mass tastes, it's going to keep making more of those pictures and less of the kind I like.


Omaha again: P.S. I love Jon Stewart, but the Cramer interview was PAINFUL to watch. It was embarrassing to see an adult publicly accept dressing-down like that.

Paul Farhi: Agree. What was he thinking? He had to know Stewart was going to come at him and/or his network. He should have been better prepared.


Why Movies use Men: The #1 coveted audience is teenage boys, so films that cater to teenage boys will always be the biggest $ makers. And as you know, these types of movies are typically action/adventure/comic book type movies.

Paul Farhi: I think you're mostly correct. But I think what's interesting is that when men and women (or boys and girls) go to the movies together, the male preference prevails. Women will gladly go to a movie that a guy wants to see; not as much the other way around.


Herndon, Va.: I have not seen the entire Cramer/Stewart interview. I only saw what aired on the Daily Show. Was Cramer really that ill-prepared or was it just creative editing?

Paul Farhi: I think the entire interview went about eight more minutes or so longer than what was shown on TV. Surely, Cramer had plenty of opportunity in the 20 or so minutes that were shown to fight back. And he didn't.


Arlington, Va.: Paul: I just heard from Gene W. that they are planning on folding business back into the A section. Can this be true? How can the Post not have a stand-alone business section? Given that the Sunday paper now resembles a Monday paper in size I'm about to give up on the Post.

Paul Farhi: Well, don't give up on us. Here's why: Yes, the Biz section will be folded into the A section. But we'll have the same sized staff and, essentially, the same amount of business coverage. It just won't be in a standalone section. I used to work on the biz staff, and many days we were behind the Sports section. No one complained too much about it then. And I suspect we even had a smaller staff producing the section than we do now.


Stewart v. Kramer: Hi Paul: I think the point that Jon Stewart was trying to make is that as "journalists" focused on financial news, CNBC should have been asking the hard questions. I don't think he necessarily blames CNBC for the economic meltdown, but is really lamenting the fact that this champion of financial news was more interested in entertainment than information. They lost their focus; that's what I got out of the "interview".

Paul Farhi: I think Richard Cohen correctly replied to this today: CNBC was probably no worse than a lot of others in NOT predicting the crash. I'm not sure the Daily Show has made a convincing case otherwise.


Female vs. Male Stars at the Box Office: Female Stars will never beat male stars at the box office for one simple reason: they're replaceable. You almost answered your own question when you mentioned their shorter careers. With the exception of a handful of great actresses (Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, (arguably) Kate Winslett, Judy Dench), no one is going to see these actresses for their acting.

When the looks start to go south, there will always be someone younger, someone prettier, etc., to replace them.

I'm not saying it's right, I'm saying that's the way it is. I also can't say that I feel particularly sorry for these actresses as they were once the benefactor of this system. Once upon a time they were the younger, prettier option. Now, they find themselves hoisted by their own petard.

Paul Farhi: Brutal, but true, I suspect. If you controlled for the number of female stars over the age of 40, the male-female star ratio would be really skewed to men. Next question: Who to blame? Is Hollywood any more "sexist" than the population at large?


Glen Burnie, Md.: Paul, what is the life expectancy of "shovel-ready?" CNN just did a report on such projects and managed to squeeze in that phrase a half dozen times in 10 seconds. And yes, this was the first and -- I hope -- last time I ever type that combination of words.

Paul Farhi: Yes, that's the cliche du jour. Look on the bright side: Perhaps this cliche is displacing older ones, like "At the end of the day," "that said," and "It is what it is." Also, "stakeholders." Hate that word.


Cramer fighting back: Of course, he didn't fight back. With what? He knows what he's on CNBC to do. And that's be an entertaining corporate shill. He may be slightly embarrassed about it now.

And this is the problem, CNBC exists only to enrich corporations, not to give the little guy watching some useful info.

In fact, this is where most of the media is going and if actual newspapers went that route, they wouldn't be in such trouble.

Paul Farhi: You don't think Cramer would like to have every single one of his lousy calls back? Of course he would. And corporate shill? I dunno--he disses plenty of companies on his show.


Annapolis, Md.: This is probably SO not a question for you, but can't think where to direct it. My college daughter was dying to get Taylor Swift tickets, was online at 10:00 a.m. for the TS presale -- only thing available was lawn seats(and this was the first day/moment of the sale!) went online for the 9:30 Club presale two days later -- same thing -- only lawn seats available. 10:00 a.m. on Saturday for public sale FIRST THING and still only lawn. What does it take to get pavilion seating?

Paul Farhi: The ticket biz is a very screwy one, and particularly so for mega-popular kid-oriented acts (like Taylor Swift). Remember the debacle involving Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana tickets about 18 months ago? Some of it has to do with inexperienced concertgoers (or their parents) all converging on the system at once. But as for your particular question, I'll throw this one to the group. Any answers?


I HATE the Progressive lady: Just sayin'. My main question is: have you noticed how many MORE auto insurance ads there are now? Is that because they're the only industry with money or because they think everyone is in the market to cut costs and renegotiate their auto insurance? Did I mention that I HATE that Progressive lady?

Paul Farhi: Well, I LIKE her--sassy, offbeat, different, distinctive. I can't recall what Progressive's ad campaign was before she showed up, but I remember her and the company now (mission accomplished, no?) As for all the insurance ads, it's a very mass product, with year-round business. Most people DON'T switch companies, but the percentage who do every year totally justifies the advertising investment. Remember when long-distance companies were advertising every three seconds on TV? This is roughly the same thing.


Silver Spring, Md.: Its undoubtedly true that most of the news media shares some of the blame for not seeing all of this coming, but from the Daily Show's perspective, isn't it more entertaining and enlightening to show video of Cramer shouting about Bear Sterns than it is to put a block of text from the Wall Street Journal on the screen, Meet the Press-style?

Paul Farhi: Bingo. Does anyone even know what the Journal said about Bear, Stearns? No knock on the Journal, which is a great paper, but the Daily Show needs TV clips to be the Daily Show.


WBC: Hi Paul, Huge baseball fan, and I love the WBC. I do enjoy seeing the players on the international teams play for national pride. It's also very educational. I had no idea, for example, that Venezuela had so many great players in the majors. I guess I assumed that most of the star Latin players were from the Dominican Republic. And who didn't love the story of the Dutch team? Had to be the biggest sporting upset since the Miracle on Ice. It seems like the U.S. team is more into it this year, too. I can't explain the sparse attendance, but I imagine that if they continue playing it every 4 years or whatever, it will build up a decent following. It won't ever surpass the World Cup, though.

Paul Farhi: Yes, that part has been educational, too. Didn't realize that, say, Carlos Delgado was from Puerto Rico, or that Sidney Ponson was from the Netherlands (well, he isn't, technically; he's from Aruba, which is a Dutch colony, which leads to a discussion of why the Netherlands HAD colonies in the Caribbean in the first place). Anyway, I'm surprised it's not a bigger deal...


Taylor Swift tickets: Whether Ms. Swift is guilty of this or not I can't say, but within the last week or so a scandal of sorts has come to light which involves artists colluding with ticket companies and management companies to essentially scalp their own tickets. The fact that these prime seats will be available at resellers (such as TicketsNow), which are owned by the main ticket agencies, is evidence of this practice.

Paul Farhi: I think you're referring to the fiasco involving Bruce Springsteen tickets, which were allegedly sold out--and then instantly available on TicketMaster's resale site for a higher price. TicketMaster has apologized for this, saying it was a screw up and offering refunds to anyone who bought at resale....And by the way, I've always thought TicketMaster was a terrible name. What does that make its customers? Ticket slaves?


The cliche du jour: I hate "back in the day." One of my co-workers uses this phrase all the time to talk about stuff that happened just a few years ago.

Paul Farhi: How about "I'm just sayin'," which is a phrase I've been known to use my own personal self.


Lawn Seats for the 9:30 Club?: Were the tickets...outside of the club? I admittedly haven't been there in a few years, did they install some sort of Astroturf system?

Paul Farhi: (That did seem a little odd to me, yes...)


Manchester, N.H.: Stewart was spot on. When Kramer whined about a CEO lying to him, Jon called him out. Reporters are supposed to REPORT things, not just take statements at face value. Imagine if Woodward and Bernstein had simply asked Nixon if he had any involvement with Watergate and then left it at that?

Paul Farhi: Well, Cramer is not really a reporter. He's is he? A host? A commentator? His journalistic responsibilities (if any) are different from a reporter. To me, this is a window into why "the media" has such diminishing credibility with the public. When everyone--Lou Dobbs, Jim Cramer, Rush Limbaugh, whomever--is held to the same standard as a reporter, the news media suffers.


Cramer/TDS: Let me say, that Jon Stewart has never asked for CNBC or journalist to have "predicted" the economic meltdown. What is point is, when that is your job, do better at it! And once you play a part in a failure, and show that you yourself (Santelli, et al) aren't so brilliant put on some show in front of people booing homeowners and stimulus after you sat back and watched the financial players lie, cheat, and steal. It's the hypocrisy, really.

Paul Farhi: I dig that; Santelli's thing was boorish, ham-handed advocacy. Stewart rightly called him out on that. But does one grandstander (Santelli) or one entertainer/showman (Cramer) really indict an entire network's journalistic credibility? Seems a bit extreme to me (like Stewart telling Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson that they were "ruining America" for arguing over politics on TV. Oh, please...)


I don't know where that lady was buying tickets, but: Taylor Swift is playing at Merriweather Post, not the 9:30 club.

Paul Farhi: Ah. Now we're talkin'. Thanks...


Section 416 aka the Alps: Maybe one of the main reasons that attendance has been sparse at the WBC is because (drum roll) of the economy? I don't know what the tix cost, but people are having to make choices and this tournament just isn't making the cut.

I'm just sayin'....

Paul Farhi: Well, stop sayin'. Attendance is actually UP this year. The 24 first-round games averaged 18,893 fans, up 39 percent from 13,609 in '06. So it has gone from abysmal to merely lousy...


Re: Taylor Swift tickets: Actually, the writer is pointing to something deeper than just TicketMaster holding back some tickets for the resale market. It now looks like they set aside those tickets for the artist, and the money from resale goes to the artist as part of their deal with the promotion/ticket service. This story is percolating just below the surface and seems to be waiting for more mainstream media reporting.

Paul Farhi: I've heard this rumor/theory, but it's a little hard to prove. The artists (or their managers) deny they do this. I mean, OF COURSE they deny it, because they're really soaking their fans. I'll say this: Given how easy it is to resell tickets on the internet these days, it would not surprise me in the least. The artists have EVERY incentive to do this.


Shovel ready: Has replaced Main Street vs. Wall Street. I was pulling my hair our during campaign season over that. It was as if political commentators had bombs strapped to the chests that were set to go off if they didn't say it twice per segment.

Paul Farhi: Yes! And funny, because I was actually in a town (Ft. Myers) the other day that has a street called Main Street. Suddenly, I realized what Main Street was all about (mostly "For Lease" signs in the storefronts).


Annapolis, Md.: No, the concert is at Merriweather, 930 Club was offering its members the presale tickets as a "bonus" for being part of their email/online system. I guess its the same event group bringing her to the area. No Astroturf involved guys.

Paul Farhi: Thanks for the clarificay. (Don't you love "crowdsourcing"?)

_______________________ Is the Ticket Biz Out of Line? (Post, Nov. 9, 2007)


Herndon, Va.: Do you think that men tend to be more type-cast than women?

That could be why they bring in more money. For example, Kevin James is slapstick-comedy, while Will Smith and Dwayne Johnson (the Rock) are action-comedy.

Because fewer women tend to be type-cast (at least in lead roles), they don't get the same following that James, Smith and Johnson get. That translates into smaller ticket sales, I think. Do you agree?

Paul Farhi: I think if any woman could be typecast in superstar roles, she would take it in a second. As is, Angelina Jolie can pull off an action movie and Julia Roberts used to dominate romantic comedies (the baton has been passed to Jennifer Anniston there, I think). Beyond that, what actress can carry a "genre" picture the way male stars can carry the many action pictures out there?


YOU are spot on Paul!: People have to realize that not EVERYONE who works on TV or for the newspaper is a reporter! Commentators and columnists are allowed to have opinions, in fact that's what they're paid for. People don't seem to get that, and then get mad that the "media" is being biased. Well for a commentator, that's what they're supposed to do! That being said, I think cable shows in particular need to do a better job at labeling content that's commentary/editorial in nature.

Paul Farhi: Thanks (I always post comments from people who agree with me)...Seriously, we've done this to ourselves. I know people think everyone in the news media is biased in some way (you should see the emails I get), but some are SUPPOSED to be biased. Everyone--reporters, news readers, commenters, TV clowns--gets unfairly lumped together.


Los Angeles, Calif.: Screenwriter here: we really need more women in the executive suites as well as behind the camera. Sadly, most "chick flicks" are being selected by and shepherded by men, which means some of them are just awful. And I think the reason women will go see "guy" pics more than the other way around is because we like them -- we've grown up seeing them, they're the default. Most girls I know identified with Luke Skywalker than Princess Leia when they were kids. Men, on the other hand, aren't likely to "identify" with, say, Lara Croft.

Paul Farhi: Yes, I think more women running the studios would make a difference. But only on the margins. Let's get past the crazy idea that Hollywood is ahead of some social curve (George Clooney's Oscar speech of a few years ago shined this cliche up). It's like any business--it's about maximizing the tried and true. That is, we know approximately what sells, and we're going to sell it again and again until proven otherwise.


Washington, D.C.: Please don't say Jennifer Aniston has taken the baton for romantic comedies. I used to like her but am so over it. She is whiny and at the end of the day, not a great actress. She's not even that pretty. She's rather plain. Her real claim to fame was being on Friends (and she looked better back then with some meat on her bones and a cute haircut) and being married to Brad Pitt. She has exhausted the welcome extended by the fans of America. Maybe Drew Barrymore is fairer to put out there for romantic comedies. Even Renee Zelwegger. Just not Jennifer Aniston.

Paul Farhi: Okay, not Jen. Fine. But Rene Zellwegger?


Baton Rouge, La.: If you're going to use quotes, it was "hurting America", not "ruining America". And yes, shoutfests like Crossfire do hurt America.

Paul Farhi: Sorry, "hurting." And, no, they don't. They attract a relatively small number of rabidly partisan people. And they actually do debate ideas and offer an occasional fact or two. That hardly "hurts" America.


Charlotte, N.C.: Three points worth considering:

1) James Altucher makes a pretty good case for Cramer not being a shill for Wall St. (See

2) Richard Cohen's Opinion piece in your paper does the same -- all the insiders at the firms that crashed lost HUGE sums of money, riding them right into the ground. If they didn't believe, they would have taken their chips off the table and skee-daddled.

3) I would be interested in knowing the status of up-or-down of Cramer's Action Alerts Charitable Trust, to which he often refers during his program. If he had really known about the shenanigans that were being perpetrated, why wouldn't he have tried to make money off of them, either by selling the stock of those companies, or trying to short them into oblivion? Some people did bet that way, and made a killing. But I don't believe that Cramer did.

In short, I understand Jon Stewart's rage, but I don't believe Jim Cramer's the right whipping boy. Go back and look at Cramer's famous "They know nothing!" rant on CNBC if you don't think he was trying to alert us to the debacle before it cascaded into a tsunami.

Thanks for having this discussion Paul!

Paul Farhi: Excellent points, Charlotte...I may be mistaken here, but I seem to recall that Cramer's "know nothing" rant (see YouTube for this one) was aimed at the Fed in mid-2007. He was urging the Fed to lower interest rates immediately. But isn't that the seed of the entire economic fiasco--interest rates were TOO low for too long? Throwing more cheap money around just exacerbated the problem.


New Baltimore, Md.: What do you mean? Jim Cramer DID fight back. He came out publically to defend his show and CNBC in general against Jon Stewart. It was only then that TDS focused on him.

Paul Farhi: Yes, but he utterly failed in the main event--the interview with Stewart. That interview had about 2.5 million viewers, and many more will see the clips online in the next few weeks. THAT'S what we're going to remember about Cramer, not his other, earlier statements.


Boston Irish: There have been plenty of female stars who were as popular or more popular than their male contemporaries. And they often played great, non-stereotype roles. Both Hepburns, Garbo, Bette Davis, Ingrid Bergman, to name a few. The problem is today there are no more adult movies like the kind that these actresses excelled in. There are only kids movies and really violent, embarrassingly sex-infused adult movies.

Paul Farhi: It's fair to say that movies have changed, yes. And they've changed because the audience has changed. In Hepburns'/Garbo's/Davis' etc. day, broad numbers of people went to the movie every week--young people, old people, middle-aged folk. So movies were made with mass audiences in mind. That's not really true today. The movie business is primarily geared toward young people, who buy the vast majority of tickets.


NBC censorship?: I was astonished that Saturday Night Live didn't parody Jon Stewart's takedown of CNBC's Jim Cramer in either the cold open or Weekend Update, until I remembered that SNL is on NBC. Do you think SNL was censored, or self-censored out of fear or corporate wrath (even more insidious)?

Paul Farhi: Naw. They've done takedowns on lots of NBC shows and NBC-owned networks (see Ben Affleck as Keith Olbermann; Darrell Hammond as Chris Matthews). I don't recall a CNBC parody, but they've probably had one of those, too.


Herndon, Va.: Queen of the RomCom = Kate Hudson, hands down.

Paul Farhi: Up there, yes.


Arlington, Va.: But Cramer didn't start out as Stewart's whipping boy. The original TDS piece was on CNBC in general, with clips from various shows. Cramer was the one who kept it going by stepping forward and doing the media rounds (and appearing totally whiny, if you ask me).

Paul Farhi: Well, yes. And, remember, Santelli--the guy who originally got the Daily Show all hot and bothered--was invited to appear on TDS but cancelled. In hindsight, he might have given a better account of himself and his network than Cramer did. I mean, he sure came across as a blowhard in that rant on the stock-market floor. But there IS an argument to be made about not bailing out homeowners, and Santelli probably could have made it mano-a-mano against Stewart.


Alexandria, Va.: I think the point of some of the posters here -- and the point of the Stewart/Cramer conflict was:

The media (CNBC, WaPo, etc.) put themselves out there as experts. Watch us -- we're the experts. We have the best advice. Etc. And then when they go out and do puff pieces and get blind- sided like the rest of us. Either you are the experts and you work hard for the truth -- or your are a less funny version of Entertainment Tonight.

Paul Farhi: Oh, come on. It's so much more complicated than that. Yes, we have advice columns, and so does CNBC (actually, a lot of them on CNBC). But that's not all we do. We DO ask questions and challenge authority. We just don't do it in every column, every article, every case.


Navy Yard: Well, I love the WBC, but the reason I'm not there is because it's a long ways from D.C., it's the middle of the week, etc., etc. But if I had a few grand floating around and my boss didn't care, I'd totally be in Miami watching baseball!

I'm like Boz -- it's impossible to not get sucked up in it all. I love every minute of it. I loved watching Brian Roberts the other night. I love watching my husband be conflicted about who to root for: "I'm an American, but my favorite players are from Venezuela!"

Paul Farhi: Just for the record: It didn't take thousands of bucks to get there, or many days off (in fact, none is my personal estimate)...And I'll tell you: The Venezuelan and Puerto Rican fans were far more into the games than the American fans were (being blown out in seven innings will do that to your fans, of course). Anyway, it WAS fun--which is why I'm so mystified by the generally blah reaction to it in this country.


Tickets: Nine Inch Nails is actually holding tickets and pre-selling them to their fan club before they go on sale on LiveNation/Ticketmaster. On their Web site Trent Reznor talks about why they are doing it and he said it was basically because he didn't want re-sale companies getting ahold of their best tickets and selling them for three times the ticket price. He also pretty much admits that he was offered a deal where he could make more money by using the re-sale sites and that a lot of artists go that route because they figure if they don't do it someone else(the promotons companies, Ticketmaster or the venues themselves) will. When you buy the pre-sale tickets directly form them there is a limit to how many you can buy at a time and they have your name on them and can only be picked up at will call so that people can't buy ten and wait for the show to sell out then make a huge profit on them.

Paul Farhi: Yes, the "pre-sale" has become a big deal for really popular acts. Of course, they dress it up as a public service (we're doing it to keep tickets out of the hands of greedy scalpers) but it's also a guaranteed pay day. You have to be a fan-club member to get pre-sale tickets, which often means paying an annual fee. And, by the way, it doesn't really stop the scalpers. They just join the fan clubs and get the tickets that way.


People don't seem to get that, and then get mad that the "media" is being biased.: Oh, when was it that someone got mad at CNN for having Paul Begala on Crossfire when he "was involved with the Democratic Party." I mean, that's WHY they had him on. It was the whole point. CNN even billed him as having a particular perspective, and someone still was idiotic enough not to get it.

Paul Farhi: Right, CNN makes no bones about Begala's affiliation. In fact, it actively promotes it (same with Carville, Donna Brazile, etc.). And then it gets accused of "bias" for putting them as well as Republican hacks on. But "bias" in this case is the whole point!


Falls Church, Va.: All financial news on cable has made me miss Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser. He did a great job of being probing while having the audience learn something and always kept his audience (investors) in mind.

Paul Farhi: Ah, yes. Good ol' Lou. He really did present a spectrum of opinions, didn't he? And you always got a strong sense that he preferred that viewers made up their own darn minds.


Silver Spring, Md.: Of course Stewart came down hard on CNBC. His focus has always been on the news media. Holding the news media accountable and satirizing them is his bread and butter. Mocking politics is maybe a close second. It's like saying The Soup is always making fun of reality and talk shows. Duh!

The surprising thing is how much coverage other media outlets gave to the Stewart-Cramer dispute. And I don't feel bad for Cramer because he went out of his way to make a piece about his network into a story about him.

Paul Farhi: Actually, I love The Daily Show for mocking the media and politics. It does so brilliantly and often. But Stewart went way beyond satire; as in the Begala-Carlson dust-up, he started to believe he was something more than a satirist. He turned into Lou Dobbs, with better demographics.


Troy, NY..: There were plenty of CNBC contributors predicting the crash. Two off the top of my head are Barry Ritholtz and A. Gary Shilling. Others did not. There are winners and losers. David Faber certainly presented both viewpoints in his Faber Report segments. I wonder if Jon Stewart actually watched CNBC the past 3 years or just made a generalization from 10 minutes of Mad Money.

Paul Farhi: Check out the clips of Peter Schiff on YouTube. Some of those are Fox News panels, but I believe he was doing his Cassandra thing on CNBC, too. And being mocked for it (watch Art Laffer self-immolate!).


Paul Farhi: Folks, far more than I could get to today, but we'll have time another time. Fyi, next week, in a departure from our usual format, we're gonna try something new: A special guest star will be joining me. Yes, just like the variety shows of the '70s. Check local listings, as they say, for the lineup on the big show--same time, same virtual place. Until then...regards to all! --Paul.


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