NEW YORK – Some liberal political activists and economists are seizing on comedian Jon Stewart’s attacks of CNBC to push an online petition drive urging the network to be tougher on Wall Street leaders.
Spearheaded by the new Progressive Change Campaign Committee and supported by the watchdog Media Matters and others, the group is asking CNBC to hire economic voices with a track record of being right on the current economic crisis, and do more to hold business leaders accountable.
“You screwed up badly,” the petition, posted online Monday, reads. “Don’t apologize. Fix it.”
CNBC has been in the firing line since Stewart pointed out network personalities who, in retrospect, offered bad financial advice. It culminated in Thursday’s tense appearance by CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Stewart’s “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central.
CNBC had no comment on the petition drive. The network has recently defended its coverage by saying that it invites guests of all points of view on its broadcast.
The network’s critics say that CNBC had been obsessed with getting access to business leaders, often at the expense of the truth.
Among the contrarian points of view that the group suggested should get time on CNBC is that of Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy Research. Baker predicted the collapse of the housing bubble in 2002, said Adam Green, spokesman for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
Yet it’s not always simple to generalize about a network where many people appear.
Mark Stryker, former chief executive officer of an online brokerage firm bought out by the Charles Schwab Co., said he saw someone interviewed early last year on CNBC who was pessimistic about the economy. Stryker did some later research on what the man was saying and, as a result, made the fortuitous decision of selling nearly every stock he owned.
“When I look at it, CNBC was highly responsible for my salvation here,” he said.
His one complaint was that CNBC on its own doesn’t have enough depth in the information it presents.