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Notebook: Jon Stewart versus Jim Cramer

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The "week-long feud of the century" reached its climax Thursday night as Jon Stewart welcomed freshly minted nemesis Jim Cramer to "The Daily Show." Cramer, who hosts a CNBC show called "Mad Money" had figured heavily in a "Daily Show" piece highlighting that network's poor track record on the financial apocalypse, an attack originally inspired by reporter Rick Santelli's diatribe against over-leveraged homeowners. ("If I only followed CNBC's advice," Stewart said then. "I'd have a million dollars today -- provided I'd started with $100 million.") When Cramer objected publicly to what he considered unfair treatment, Stewart and his writers, smelling comedy blood, turned their sights toward him. Or as the host described it last night, "We threw some Boston Cream pies at CNBC, you got a little obviously shmutz on your jacket from it, you took exception, and then we decided to hit you with pies."

Cramer throws actual pies on "Mad Money," a kind of overexcited video version of a drive-time radio show on which fans call up from an imaginary place called "Cramerica" to give him a "Boo-ya!" and ask what they should do with their money. The CNBC online store sells a talking Cramer bobblehead that screams "Buy! Buy! Buy!," "Sell! Sell! Sell!" and "Are you ready, Skee-daddy?"

The back-and-forth generated a lot of Web hits to the Comedy Central page and comments among the punditry, taking on a patina of "news" and turning a comic riff into a self-inflating media moment: "People on TV have talked about how much people on TV have talked about it," "Daily Show" announcer Drew Birns intoned with customary mock gravity at the opening of last night's show, which was being pitched like some WWE grudge match, excited certainly by memories of Stewart's 2004 dust-up with Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala of CNN's "Crossfire."

Stewart's point this time was much the same, that CNBC practiced irresponsible journalism,while selling itself as a source of superior insight and information. "You should be buying things and accept that they're overvalued but accept that they're going to keep going higher," Cramer said in one of the clips Stewart had earlier hurled against him, noting "I probably wouldn't have a problem with CNBC if Cramer's slogan was 'Cramer: He's right sometimes,' or 'Cramer: He's like a dartboard that talks.' "

Although Stewart took some care to separate Cramer, personally, from his larger attack on CNBC -- whose misrepresentation of the financial crisis as "some sort of crazy once-in-a-lifetime tsunami that nobody could have seen coming" he called "disingenuous at best and criminal at worst"  -- the net he was throwing was certainly meant to include him.

Earlier in the day, Cramer had appeared on "The Martha Stewart Show" and had admitted that he was "a little nervous" about going on "The Daily Show." "You should be nervous," Martha replied, and indeed there was something in his bearing last night that reminded one of a small boy reluctantly called before the school principal. Cramer is a star in his own world, but in the larger hierarchy of cable TV and pop-political culture, "The Daily Show" ranks higher than "Mad Money." And though he had told Martha Stewart earlier that "I’m going to have to fight back. I’m not a doormat," he came off rather as chastened, conciliatory, pleading and overwhelmed:

"I try really hard to make as many good calls as I can."

"I should do a better job."

"I wish I'd done a better job."

"I'm trying. I'm trying."

Jon Stewart had a home-court advantage, of course, as well as a few damning clips, not meant for broadcast, of Cramer describing, in a positive way, certain barely to not-even-barely legal things a hedge fund manager might do to work the market to his advantage. And he also had editorial control -- the interview that went out over the air was cut for time; Cramer comes off somewhat better in the complete exchange, which is available online. But what makes Stewart formidable is that he also has a passion greater than the irony in which it is often couched.

Cramer, who repeatedly characterized the illegal and merely immoral doings of the market as "shenanigans," tried to downplay his own importance: "I'm not Eric Sevareid, I"m not Edward R. Murrow. I'm a guy trying to do an entertainment show about business." Like Stewart, he said, he wanted his show to be "successful" and to "bring in younger people."

Stewart was having none of it. "I understand you want to make finance entertaining," he said, "but ... you knew what the banks were doing and yet were touting it for months and months. ... These guys were on a Sherman's March through their companies financed by our 401Ks, and all the incentives for their companies were for short term ... and they ... walked away rich as hell. And you guys knew it was going on."

Closing the show, Stewart added, "I hope that was as uncomfortable to watch as it was to do."

-- Robert Lloyd

Photo: AP

 
Comments () | Archives (33)

Boy, if the rest of the media had done to some of Bush's gov't reps about 5 yrs ago what Stewart did with Cramer last night, maybe we wouldn't be in the bind we're in. Stewart was a "newsman" last night, that was an intense interview (even though sometimes Steward overtalks, as we await an answer, no matter what the answer is). He didn't hold back, and it was great for once, to have someone big in the media not take excuses. Thanks.

We should all thank Jon Stewart for finally saying what we all wish we could say to this guy. Here and there, I've read comments where people stick up for Cramer as a "little guy." That little guy makes more in a day than I make in a year - I have no sympathy whatsoever for the cocky opportunist in that grainy video clip or the clown that hosts Mad Money. Sure, I'd love to see Jon Stewart fry some bigger fish, too, but I'm sure Santelli and his cohorts are too smart to show up for a lashing like that one. But unlike the journalists he lampoons, Stewart didn't use that as an excuse to make nice with Cramer.


I watched the unedited version. The whole Crossfire incident was entertaining in a way - the MSNBC thing with Matthews/Olberman was entertaining in a way.

I completely underestimated how willing Stewart was to get angry. He made it look like all week that he was mocking the whole "anchor war" idea, and that the final 'battle' would basically be JS explaining why he felt CNBC should try harder, but that we would be 'disappointed' by it.

But he napalmed Cramer. Using his own words.

I'm frankly unsure what's going to happen to Cramer. He went on there probably hoping to restore the reputation/ratings of his show - now he's probably wondering if he's not going to get dragged in front of the SEC, or have his former hedge fund files examined for "it was illegal then too" activities.

It's interesting that if you go to cnbc.com, you find barely any reference to Jon Stewart. Do a keyword search for Jon Stewart and you'll find only a couple of references to outside news sources (Reuters, AP).

So CNBC courageously sticks its head in the sand or is most likely couched in its own arrogance that it does not have to answer for its vacuous and moronic coverage of one of the largest financial swindles in history.

Isn't it funny how we have to rely on Comedians to find the truth today?

Perhaps if news networks and papers really did their jobs comedians could do theirs!

Can we just stop with ultra-liberal witch hunts....I dont think the moroons over at CNBC knew what was going on because it that logic applied, than they would have put all their money in an Ultra-Short fund and would not be doing desk updates at CNBC...and if anyone is stupid enough to put money in the market with doing their research and realizing that there is RISK associated with it, well they deserve to lose their money, unless of course they were lied to by the people RUNNING the companies, aka AIG.

Moreover, why isnt anyone asking why we are only now considering tighter regulations, considering Eron and Worldcom were a huge wakeup call. Witch hunts are fun when their happening, but after you burn innoncent people at the stake you'll realize they just driven by anger, hate, and blame. And if you dont like CNBC, turn the dial, its just that simple, or Bloomberg, like most people with brains do.

Finally, someone calls out the financial crooks on Wall Street. One problem, why does it take a "comedy" news show to bring this out? Where are the regulatory entities who should be asking these questions and punishing these crooks?

Jon Stewart is an irresponsible joke and an embarassment to "journalism". He wants to judge but not take responsibility. At least Cramer takes responsibility by giving advice. All Jon does is look at the camera with a smirk a la Biden while reading the notes his lackeys write up.

And to add further to the Darwin Application Pile is the youth of today who are so stunted in psychological growth that they have to get their news from an entertainer.

I really do not see the difference between Stewart and Limbaugh. They are both irresponsible and obnoxiously full of themselves.

Absolutely mesmorising television. Santelli is a fake. Jon Stewart is the real Howard Beale...

Jon Stewart once again distinguished himself as not only a comic genius, but a superior intellectual and clever debater as well.
Time and again he cut to the core issues and Cramer was justifiably chastened when lectured.
Yes he has plenty of editorial tools, a great team behind him, and a home court advantage, but it takes a clever thinker to make such clear and irrefutable points as he did.
All this delivered with a levity we rarely see elsewhere.
Good on you Jon! Keep up the great work!

Terrific and fair report on the Jon Stewart vs Jim Cramer feud. I have been a long time fan of Jon Stewart and highly admire him as a celeberity figure and "average person". I sincerly hope that mainstream media does not turn this episode of the Daily Show into a monster. For people who are not long time viewers of the show, they may not understand why the host is tearing apart Jim Cramer(which for the record you pointed out in this report: jon clearly seperated his fustration from Jim to the overall failure from CNBC). Those people may not realize how well informed Jim along with CNBC have been about the shape of the economy and the direction it was heading. These people at the CNBC network clearly claim to be "experts" and therefore better not deny that they didnt know what was going to happen to our fragile economy.
The purpose of The Daily Show is to provide the public a "fake" news show which turns out to be news which is more real then any major news network on television....period. During this political exposure mission that The Daily Show is on, they came across CNBC. For whatever reason, the tuesday episode(i think.....whichever first exposed CNBC as being a bunch of Douch's) really hit the heart of Jim Cramer. Jim himself really brought this feud onto himself by appearing on several shows, creating a "back and forth" grudge match with Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer. This episode with Jim coming onto The Daily Show, is regarded as the final battle. However I really think that this will spark something with people aswell as the news networks(at least I really hope so), and we will be hearing about this for weeks to come.
However i seemed to get off into a tangent here lol. What I want to point out is how well Robert Lloyd presented this article in a thoughtful manner, and respected the point of View from The Daily Show. This is great because I believe a lot of uninformed people are going to be upset with Jon Stewart...........Just a damn shame!

I was so disappointed in his treatment of Cramer I had to turn off the television. I watch Cramer a lot and sometimes think he goes overboard and have heard him make bad calls, but Stewart tried to make him sound like a con man. I didn't like the way he was treated one bit and honestly think he was overwhelmed and did not know how to react to the vicisou accusatisons made by Stewart.

Jon Stewart may be the best interviewer on TV. Not Barbara WaWa, not any of the 60 Minutes crew, not anybody in the hard news biz--Jon Stewart. He was well-informed, well-prepared, and asked all the questions we at home are frequently yelling at the TV set, using the same tone and words we do. Yet he was still respectful and funny at the same time. If you haven't seen the unedited version online, watch it. It's really a masterpiece and deserves a Peabody award (the broadcast equivalent of the Pulitzers).

Another comedian who's coming into his own as a serious interviewer is David Letterman. Watch him closely when he interviews a politician or someone with a serious issue. Letterman and Stewart both take what they do very, very seriously without taking themselves seriously. The rest of the "mainstream media" need to follow their lead.

Oh dear rob and rachel\poor rachel says " I really do not see the difference between Stewart and Limbaugh". let's see-one is on comedy-central hosting a self-professed "fake-news" program, the other beleives himself the prophet of conservatism, giving the keynote speech at CPAc's convention. One is self-mocking, the other self-congratulating. one will mock all targets of opportunity (whatever political complexion), the other spent the last eight years uncritically supporting W's follies, and now comes out saying, in effect, that W was a traitor, and I really opposed all his (non-conservative) actions.
and rob? "why isnt anyone asking why we are only now considering tighter regulations, considering Eron and Worldcom were a huge wakeup call. " he asks. duh...because Bush and his cronies were weakening oversight and regulation and all the conservatives were cheering!
and "Can we just stop with ultra-liberal witch hunt?" he asks. a ultra-liberal? attacking fox news' bete noir nbc? what stewart was asking, in my view legitimately, was why cable business news channels (and i include fbn and bloomberg) do not act the financial equivalent
of say 60 minutes, not accepting the facile lies of ceos and press handouts, why they did not ask the tough questions.

What Cramer said on those video is not only appalling, I find it criminal and worthy of a investigation, yet the SEC always sits on there asses and lets these highly intellectual professional swindlers get away with ruining the lives of hardworking everyday people. THIS IS NOT A PARTISIAN ISSUE, SO CAN IT WITH THE POLITICS! Cramer should apologize publicly tonight or I'm never wasting my time watching CNBC and will explain to the many fellow young clueless investors who go to my college, not to listen to a word this con artist says. Completely unprofessional and unethical, and if we let people like him (or Bernie Madoff) get away with stuff like this, Americans futures of retiring or living a financial secure life will dry up. I'm outraged.

Beyond the exchange with Cramer, which you are free to like or dislike, it says something tragic about network journalists and their impotent reporting of the (at the time) impeding (and now very real) financial crisis. There were warning signs and peoplewho sounded alarms. Few listened, even fewer reporters ran with the stories and took the protagonists, banks and government to task. It now takes a 'comedian' to ask some real questions and get some real answers... no BS... right to the point... how novel and refreshing!

Many 'journalists' could take a few lessons fom Stewart in terms of doing the work of journalists. Ask the questions that bother, and report on real life-changing issues, it's not like there's any lack of those kicking around these days. After these economic and investment fiascos, it boggles the mind how people are not taking to the streets in protests asking for accountability, arrests, retribution and/or reparation.

"Can we just stop with ultra-liberal witch hunts....I dont think the moroons over at CNBC knew what was going on because it that logic applied, than they would have put all their money in an Ultra-Short fund and would not be doing desk updates at CNBC...and if anyone is stupid enough to put money in the market with doing their research and realizing that there is RISK associated with it, well they deserve to lose their money, unless of course they were lied to by the people RUNNING the companies, aka AIG.

Moreover, why isnt anyone asking why we are only now considering tighter regulations, considering Eron and Worldcom were a huge wakeup call. Witch hunts are fun when their happening, but after you burn innoncent people at the stake you'll realize they just driven by anger, hate, and blame. And if you dont like CNBC, turn the dial, its just that simple, or Bloomberg, like most people with brains do."


Because we "Ultra-Liberals" have the reigns of the country. And when Worldcom and Enron dropped we didn't have the support or the control in the government.

I would like to see the 24 hour news channels get better with their reporting. Instead of getting stooges and inturns that are going to lose anyone watching they should get the economists and scientist that can actually speak in public to do the talking points.

And also not he politicians that don't know the science talk unless you have someone willing to destroy the small amount of logic that they twist into catch phrases.

Jim Crammer is a stock annalist not a journalist.

What's the problem? Finally someone is called on their ridicilousness and people are uncomfortable? Stewart did what every news network and cable news network hasn't been doing: Probing for answers, asking for full disclosure and advocating for the public. I'm not interested in Cramer being comfortable or uncomfortable, I'm interested in the millions who have been and are losing their shirts.

Stewart is far from arrogant or obnoxious. This market, this country's wealthy and CNBC can take that title.

It's not even his job to do what he did last night - he's a goofy, funny guy. Who also happens to be incredibly intelligent and sick of the b.s. just like the rest of us.

Here's to 10 more years of this great show.

Great article... but checkout this guys view ... haha

http://nkouts.blogspot.com/2009/03/jon-stewart-is-wrong.html

 
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