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An Open Letter To Jon Stewart, Bailout Edition…

January 15th, 2010 · 11 Comments
Just For Fun

Dear Jon Stewart:

On January 12, 2010, you had Paul Ingrassia on your show to discuss his book Crash Course: The American Automobile Industry’s Road from Glory to Disaster. In case you don’t remember (you seem like you pay attention, but maybe you drank a lot later that night or something, who knows), here is a video to refresh your memory:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Paul Ingrassia
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As someone who has family members in the auto industry (or at least who were in the industry until GM bought them out), I found this segment to be particularly interesting. However, the dialogue around the 2:50 mark in the interview gave me a bit of pause:

Jon: Do you have a sense of why the Detroit bailout was so much more onerous than the financial bailout…is it because the car industry is easily understandable – “oh, you make cars…I know that, I can regulate that” – the financial industry – “I don’t know what you’re doing, just take the money.”

Paul: I think it’s exactly it, and also…no one writes songs about banks…I mean, they write songs about cars.

Jon: There’s a romance.

Paul: That’s right. You know, in “Shut Down”, by the Beach Boys, it wasn’t about a bank closing, it was about a drag race.

Jon: I would love to have some bank songs come out now…a whole new genre of music.

(Sidenote: Spelling aside, I feel like I am transcribing a conversation from the Beatles.)

Hm. Now, I love you Jon, and I mean this in the nicest way possible, but come on now. I know you know better than this- aren’t you the guy who blasted CNN for fact checking Saturday Night Live more than its guests? Maybe you’re still recovering from your John Woo experience (man, that guy is apparently good at torturing everyone), but your statements are uncharacteristically sloppy on a number of points:

1. The bank bailouts started when Hank Paulson was still Treasury Secretary, and it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t know what the financial industry is doing, given that he used to head up Goldman Sachs. (If he doesn’t know what the financial industry is doing then he’s quite the lucky bastard, since he made a LOT of money at least pretending to know what was going on.)

2. More importantly, your lack of challenge to Ingrassia’s point about nobody writing songs about banks was really a rookie mistake. As evidence, I present to you Merle Hazard (not to be confused with Merle Haggard):

(For all of Merle’s material, see his YouTube channel.)

Now, I do understand how such an oversight could have occurred – you’re a very busy man, and, as I understand it, don’t have a huge staff. (No pun intended, despite the title of the site.) Furthermore, while your writers are excellent, I think it is safe to assume that they are not immersed in the often insular world of nerdy economics and finance humor. As such, let me be the first to offer up my services in the event that you decide that you need a Senior Economic Correspondent to stay abreast of such matters.

Yours Truly,


Tags: Just For Fun

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 David // Jan 15, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    I couldn’t help but think of “Damn it feels good to be a banker” – viewable here:

  • 2 Nick // Jan 16, 2010 at 12:49 am

    I think Jon was simply trying to make comical banter with a boring author rather than make cogent arguments.

  • 3 Googooboo // Jan 16, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Love Stewart as much as the next guy, but for all his brilliant moments there are moments like this interview (as well as the John Yoo and Steve Levitt interviews) . Oh well, he’s only human after all.

  • 4 econgirl // Jan 16, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    I have *got* to download that new sarcasm punctuation mark.

  • 5 Emily // Jan 24, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    I was watching this episode the night it aired and I had the same thought about Merle Hazard. I was also a little disappointed that Stewart dropped the ball. I also would posit the gem below as another example of a song about banks, in fact, THE bank (at least for us ethnocentric Americans…). Thanks for the letter! Enjoy!

  • 6 Alan // Nov 3, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    As disappointing as you might find that interview, it’s nothing compared to when he had Evo Morales on oh so many years ago and encouraged the audience to applaud him for keeping his promise of nationalizing industries.

    That’s the only time I understood why people yell at the TV while watching sports.

  • 7 Jeff // Mar 29, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Alan – I recommend you read “Confessions of an economic hitman”. I think you will find Economic morality stories are as one-sided as they appear inside the tower.

    Econgirl – “As such, let me be the first to offer up my services in the event that you decide that you need a Senior Economic Correspondent to stay abreast of such matters.” … So does John know yet that he is being watched by the SEC?

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  • 9 Eric Gonchar // Mar 6, 2015 at 9:59 am

    Eric Gonchar…

    An Open Letter To Jon Stewart, Bailout Edition……

  • 10 Terry Simpson MD // Mar 15, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    Terry Simpson MD…

    An Open Letter To Jon Stewart, Bailout Edition……

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