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Who got the horns in the battle of Stewart v. Cramer? - VIDEO

by Danny Gallagher, posted Mar 13th 2009 8:02AM
Jim CramerThe war of words that erupted between The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the CNBC network started with Stewart's righteous rant over CNBC's lackadaisical coverage of the crumbling markets and ended last night. Or did it?

It officially went to Defcon 3 when Mad Money host Jim Cramer, CNBC's biggest name (which I assume is a lot like being the biggest star on UPN), got caught in the crosshairs.

Thankfully, the news media has been there to cover this feud from the first "#*$& you" to the last "lighten up" that culminated last night when Cramer and Stewart sat down for a face-to-face face-off on The Daily Show. Thank you TV news! You're the gossipy older sister I never had.

If you tuned in to Thursday night's show hoping for a hilarious reprieve from the depressing world in which we live, you were sorely disappointed. Stewart dedicated half of the first segment and the remaining two to chat things out with the Mad Money host and explain his reasoning for his show's hammering of CNBC. Cramer was, as Stewart put, the face of this and that alone should tell you just how ugly it is. But you have to give Cramer credit for putting himself on the hot seat. The man can only regret that he has but one life to give to his network.

As sick as this sounds, CNBC has to be loving this attention because if they didn't, Cramer would not have been allowed within 500 yards of the studio. Until now, the only people who watched CNBC were ultra wealthy stock hounds who have a TV in their bathroom so they can see how their stocks are doing while they are on the toilet or insomniacs who think the stock ticker could lull them into a coma faster than invisible sheep.

Instead of grilling Cramer for his mistakes or showing even more embarrassing clips of the bald bull market chaser jumping around his set, playing dumb sound effects and screaming at buzzwords like a Wall Street Pee Wee's Playhouse, Stewart very calmly but sternly played some earlier clips of Cramer's heyday with TheStreet.com. Believe it or not, there was a time when Cramer reported the financial news in an even and measured tone that didn't make you think he snorted some special medication to get it faster into his bloodstream for our "entertainment," as Cramer put it.

"I understand you want to make finance entertaining but this is not a #&$ing game," Stewart said, "and when I watch that (clip from TheStreet.com), I can't tell you how angry that makes me because what that says to me is you all know what's going on."

Now before Thursday's show, the news outlets had been pumping their viewers full of Fight Club juice in preparation for this Stewart/Cramer showdown. They made it sound like this war of words would erupt into a mushroom cloud of clauses and prepositions if the two were even together in the same studio.

The beef wasn't with just Cramer. It was with the entire CNBC culture of authority and pomposity that Stewart believed helped burst the bubble that caused our current financial mess. I'm not pretending to understand the entirety of Stewart's argument and the claims of financial liquidity or the root causes of the market collapse and how CNBC fits into that picture. If I did, I wouldn't be writing this for beer money.

It seemed to me the Stewart /Cramer mess was about something much bigger. The line between news and entertainment seems to get blurrier every time a new talking head gets his or her own show. Stewart claimed that CNBC and other financial reporters upon which some investors depend for their very financial lives failed to do the necessary work to head off this mess for the people they entrust their work to because of financial cutbacks that have spread throughout the media or the pervasiveness of entertaining for ratings. These same trusted names then have the audacity to call the disenfranchised "losers" for wanting some financial retribution for mistakes that everyone has made.

Since just about every major news outlet in the country failed to grasp the scope of that beef between Cramer and Stewart before and after the showdown, I'd say the real loser in this battle was the news media.

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I watched the Stewart/Cramer show & quite honestly was sad for Cramer. It as if someone had taken the bullets out of his gun, and given him blanks. I do not watch the CNBC financial shows, (just the Business news on PBS.) I cannot stand all the unnecessary video effects on CNBC as if the show was a rock video. I just want credible news & information. I grew up with Walter Cronkite. I like my news, good or bad, presented by someone who gets the facts first, rather than hype the news with 'teasers' and innuendos. (I want my newscasters to wear proper business attire, but that's another rant.) We work hard for our money. I am very thankful that I didn't follow the flow with the financial advice given. My poor 401k is in dire shape, now being worth half its' value, which wasn't all that much in the first place. I had back surgery last year, was off work almost a year, and had to use much of my savings to pay rent & bills, and had to take a less paying job due to permanent injuries, which means I may get to retire at age 75 if I can build my savings back up. I'm a lucky one. It's going to take a while to get everything going in the right direction. After all, it took 8 years to get into a deep debt to China & other countries. Our American Greed & Arrogance got the better of us. We need to work together to rebuild not only our savings, but our country, and & our country's reputation.

March 14 2009 at 1:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

#1 - One of Stewart's main complaints is that Cramer and CNBC have accepted what they were told at face value and did no investigative reporting to get to the facts. The CEOs lied to them, they accepted those lies and reported them.

#2 - The newspapers and other media outlets reporting on the Stewart/Cramer thing have to come down against Stewart because if they agree with him, then they also have to own up to the charge that the information on this meltdown was there, that they missed it or chose not to report it, and that they are just as culpable in all of this as CNBC.

March 14 2009 at 1:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When Jon Stewart opens his arrogant mouth, it's a "righteous rant", but when anyone else does it, it is wrong.

Thanks for showing everyone again how the group that gets it's news from Jon Stewart thinks, eh, follows.

And, it's wrong for the media to "parrot press releases" but just great for Jon Stewart to parrot Obama talking points. Please. Grow up.

March 13 2009 at 8:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

For years, I have listened to people bemoan the fact that the younger generation get their news from comedy shows. THIS is why we get our news from comedy shows: the "real" news media does nothing but parrot press releases; if you ask tough questions, you might lose access to prized sources. Only the comedy shows have the guts to stop and question what we're hearing. The most telling point in this Stewart/Cramer interview was when Cramer admitted that he knew a CEO was lying... "but what was I supposed to do? Call him a liar?" Um... YES!!! It's called "investigative journalism," and it can be used for things other than hidden camera exposes at the mechanic's. Maybe if the "real" media understood that, the younger generation would take them seriously.

March 13 2009 at 8:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm sorry but I am tired of being told I went beyond my means when I took out my loan. Yes I am in financial straits. I have defaulted on my mortgage is it because I took out a loan much too high for my income. No . . . I was approved for 400,000 dollars. The house I chose was 150,000. I stayed within my means. Then I lost my job and had to take a pay cut to start working again. Then my husband lost his construction job and has been unable to find work for the past six months. So yeah, I fell behind. I am not an idiot, I knew how much I could afford when I bought my home. Not every single person that is in crisis with their mortgage went beyond their means when they bought their home. I would appreciate it if people would realize that. I would love to pay off my loan and stay in my home but no, now I have to attempt to get refinanced, deal with daily calls from creditors asking for money I can't possible come up with and when I finally do get refinanced I have to sell my house and move 800 miles away from my family and go where my husband can find work. So please quit referring to all mortgage defaulters as idiots. Some of us actually tried to do the right thing and just got screwed by companies laying us off.

March 13 2009 at 6:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Cathy's comment

You are right, Cathy. There are some tough stories out there about well meaning people who just got clobbered by a bad economy, bad job market, and dwindling home values. Your situation isn't the infuriating one. Yours is a sad one and I think most thoughtful people would have sympathy and encouragement for you.

What is infuriating though is when people knowingly closed their eyes and ears and didn't want to think through the reality behind what they were doing. Many people given your exact situation bought the $400K house (heck, even figured out a way to get the $450K one) knowing full well they couldn't afford it and now are blaming everyone else and taking absolutely no responsibility for their actions. That, unlike your situation, does not bring forth sympathy from me. That pisses me off because those folks are walking around with an entitlement mentality that says bad decisions and lack of personal accountability should be rewarded by everyone else cleaning up their mess.

So I completely agree with you that not everyone should be lumped together. I pray for the best for you. Know that this is only a few brief moments of your life and you will get past it.

March 13 2009 at 7:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Until now, the only people who watched CNBC were ultra wealthy stock hounds who have a TV in their bathroom so they can see how their stocks are doing."

Only the ultra-wealthy own stocks? You haven't a clue.

March 13 2009 at 5:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Kudos to Stewart.
I'd like to see him go at some of the "entertaining news people" now. Like DL Hughley, who goes on late at night to give opinions he's completely unqualified to give and even has a live, freaking studio audience to add weight to his opinions through applause. When I saw him discuss proposition 8 my head almost exploded at the stupidity.

March 13 2009 at 11:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When we apply for a mortgage, WE sign a contract. When we send money to Madoff, WE sign the check. Every decision we are making regarding our finances should be made by ourselves. The contract tells us what to expect from the mortgage we applied for. If it's not clear, there are no rules again making some research or asking around. For Madoff, let's see.. yes he was a celebrity in finances but considering the world is falling apart around us can we assume a fixed return for 20-30 percent is achievable ? If it was, everyone would go for it. Again, we signed the check without trying to think or understand what we are doing or maybe are too lazy to ask. We are living in a country that chews up news, analyze it for us, News anchors are even allowed to give their point of view about it (i am talking to you FOX News). I used to think that people actually choose FOX or CNN by considering their own political affiliation. I was optimistic ! They choosing just because they are too lazy to analyze the news themselve and give away that power to a news outlet they know have the same political views as their own.
This is what happened with CNBC, They are not to blame here, they are doing their job to teach and entertain but it is eventually up to all of us to make the final decision. Mad Money might be pushing the envelop sometime but like thy are saying during the show 'The views are only those from Cramer blah blah. You can loose money using those advices'
Come on now people !
As for John Stewart, he spent most of the interview blaming the big corporation who are playing with our 401K. I haven't herd him talking about people accepting mortgages above their means. Most of us invest in long term, but we also invest in short term: the only reason why people bought those huge house was because they expected a quick return on their investments !
In time of crisis, pointing fingers is always the easy things to do. A hard look at ourselves is what we need today and HUGE celebrities like John Stewart is playing on our laziness. He s playing the defender of the uninformed and he doesn't help by doing it. WE should be the one making decision, We should not be so hypocritical and assume our mistakes and WE should think about what we hear or learn from anyone, people or medias.
Cramer went so far as saying that the guy from Bear Stream was lying and he didn't know about it or that his friend came on the show and lied to him. He s making my point ! Even HE thought some people should be trustworthy and HE didn't bother to check on facts.
This is not the Media's fault. It is ours, we did not understand the system, didn't bother to ask and risk our shirts on it. We lost our shirts, hopefully this will make people smarter to THINK for themselves.

March 13 2009 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Fabrice's comment

I posted this elsewhere after the episode aired, but I'm posting it again here because I don't want to have to try and come up with something new to say about the whole thing. :P


I love The Daily Show, and I love Jon Stewart, and I think it's great that he -- as a comedian -- manages to get in some tough (but important) shots at people that might deserve them. He's done it before, he did it tonight, and he'll do it in the future.

BUT remember... he was armed with clips from a web interview conducted with Jim Cramer 3 years ago. Cramer had nothing. I'm sure there are tons of clips of him on his own show saying some of the things Jon is talking about, and showing some of the things he said he spoke about on his show. The problem is, Jon was right -- it's not about Jim Cramer. Anyone watching his show KNOWS he's just a commentator. If anyone believes he is a journalist, they are idiots.

CNBC is at fault for painting him as such, especially with their "In Cramer We Trust" tagline. CNBC is at fault for employing more commentators than journalists or reporters -- in fact, cable news in general is at fault for this. This is no different than the Crossfire thing because the root problem is the same -- news has become "entertainment before truth". It's absolutely sad that it takes Comedy Central personalities like Stewart and Colbert to actually be the voice of reason and lay into these people (Stephen of course doing it sarcastically), but alas, it doesn't do anything because they can be laughed off as "silly comedians". REAL reporters, who would actually be taken seriously by real people, don't seem to have the balls to do what Jon and Stephen do each night (and to be fair, if those two were actual reporters or journalists, they might not have the balls, either).

The real journalist, and the real news organization, risks EVERYTHING to get the truth out there. They risk advertising money, they risk their own jobs, because the well-being of the general public needs it. That's the purpose of the news media. Somehow, western news has lost that.

Kudos to Jon Stewart for laying into Cramer and CNBC, and kudos to Cramer for agreeing to appear on the show and for not actually trying to continue to spew more rhetoric and lies (as many other guests in the past, put in the same position, have done). But something tells me next week, and the week after, and so on and so forth... nothing is going to change on Cramer's show, or CNBC in general.

March 13 2009 at 11:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Jon Stewart is not known for his hard hitting interviews, he is a bit of a suck up with celebs, but last night was PURE GOLD. I thought Cramer was going to burst into tears. It was no Frost/Nixon, but I was suprised at how agressive Jon got, and how conciliatory Cramer was. It looks like CNBC sent Cramer to the show to fall on his sword for the network. Hope someone at the SEC was watching.

March 13 2009 at 9:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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