NBC boss: Jon Stewart's criticism absurd, unfair

Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:14pm EDT
 
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By Paul Thomasch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker fired back at comedian Jon Stewart on Wednesday, saying it was "unfair" and "absurd" for the funnyman to criticize CNBC and question its coverage of financial news.

"Everybody wants to find a scapegoat. That's human nature," Zucker said during a keynote address at a media industry conference. "But to suggest that the business media or CNBC was responsible for what is going on now is absurd."

"Just because someone who mocks authority says something doesn't make it so," Zucker said, describing the comedian's comments as "completely out of line."

Zucker's comments are the latest salvo in a war of words with Stewart, who hosts the mock news program "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" on the Comedy Central cable television network owned by Viacom Inc.

Stewart has blasted CNBC's reporting of the financial market meltdown, saying the channel was too cozy with corporate chiefs and key government officials.

The comedian has lobbed particularly harsh criticism at CNBC commentator Jim Cramer, and last week invited him for an appearance on the comedy show, where he hammered the guest for his coverage of Wall Street.

"Listen, you knew what the banks were doing, yet were touting it for months and months," Stewart said during his March 12 show. "The entire network was. Now to pretend that this was some sort of crazy, once-in-a-lifetime tsunami that nobody could have seen coming is disingenuous at best and criminal at worst."

"TERRIFIC" JOB   Continued...

 
<p>NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker speaks during the McGraw-Hill Media Summit in New York, March 18, 2009. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton</p>