Jon Stewart was in tears after Barack Obama's Inauguration. After eight years of the comedy goldmine that was Bush, it seemed like the end of comedy news as we knew it. None of us thought Stewart would find his new arch nemesis so quickly, and after years of railing on Fox news, who would have thought it was CNBC that he was after all along.
The Internet was abuzz that the rift began when Rick Santelli canceled as a guest on the show last week. Stewart tore Santelli and CNBC a new one as he showed eight-and-a-half minutes of network clips, revealing wrong predictions and cupcake interviews. Granted some of the clips were taken out of context, but they did the trick, exposing the network for its hypocrisy and offending its fans. From Jim Cramer telling us not to pull our money out of Bear Stearns right before it went under, to an interview with Sir Allen Stanford. CNBC's hardhitting question to the Texan tycoon charged with $8 billion in fraud? "Is it fun being a billionaire?" When Stanford replied, "Yes, yes it is," Stewart came back with a well-timed "F--- you!"
On Monday's show, Stewart claimed that they had already produced the eight-and-a-half minute sketch as a response to Santelli calling over-leveraged mortgage homeowners losers, to show just a few of CNBC's own mistakes. Stewart said he'd welcome with open arms any of their correspondents now, "anyone from the cast of five bald guys making noise about money, CNBC's famed Money Monkey, or my go-to guru for all things finance, the stock pickin' chicken."
CNBC has remained mostly mum, with the exception of Mad Money's Jim Cramer, who is quickly realizing he's in a losing battle with comedy. Cramer cried out that his comments were taken greatly out of context. Stewart agreed with him that the clip was out of context, but he didn't let him off the hook that easy. After showing an earlier clip of Cramer telling us directly to buy Bear, Stewart ended again with a brief "F--- you!"
Cramer went on the Today Show to argue that he's actually been telling people to sell, sell, sell. A CNN video has this clip, with Cramer telling us to take any money we're going to need for the next five years out of the stock market. CNN, not a comedy station, points out that since then, the Dow has indeed plunged several thousand points.
On the Today Show, Cramer slammed Stewart for being a comedian who runs a "variety show." Others in the blogosphere would say the same thing about Cramer. Salon.com's Gabriel Winant was assigned to watch CNBC for a day: "Twelve hours later, a long stare through the peacock-colored looking glass had shaken me. I was huddled in the corner of my living room couch, arms hugging my knees, wondering why the angry faces on-screen were yelling at me."
"Since the dawn of the Obama administration, not even two months ago, CNBC has become notorious as a redoubt of talking -- no, shouting -- heads who insist that the market is tanking because the new president is an incompetent lefty," writes Winant, a viewpoint financial pundits say is wrong, and outright facile. Cramer's show is based on his omniscient knowledge of the stock market. "In Cramer we Trust," reads the network slogan. Yet Stewart's show reminds us that the entire premise is based on our faith in him, and when it comes down to it, he doesn't really know what he's talking about.
Cramer then went on Morning Joe where Joe Scarborough berated Stewart for cherry picking people's mistakes over and over again. Stewart replied, "Yes, that is what we do!" Some people don't understand how comedy works, and how vital it is to have people like Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart point out those mistakes.
On his show last night, Stewart fired back that Cramer was the one running the variety show, with his wacky buttons and crazy sound effects. He launched at Cramer for going on NBC, MSNBC, and declared that he's not the only one with a multi-media empire behind him. Viacom in the house! "So I went on a little MTV rehabilitation tour of my own, bitch."
Jon appeared on Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer and MTV's The Hills to discuss. Dora put it best: "Doesn't Jim Cramer understand it's not about individual mistakes he's made. It's about him creating a false sense of urgency that helped hyper-inflate the bubble?" Jonathan Stein of Mother Jones argues that the real problem of Cramer's show is that it makes your average person believe they can predict the stock market on a daily basis, when "A massive majority of the buying and selling done on Wall Street is done by banks and massive institutions with all the resources in the world at their disposal. Joe Sixpack and his 1,000 shares of Coca Cola are just grease for the gears." No matter how much Cramer defends himself, argues Stein, the basic premise of his show is problematic.
Jim Cramer is scheduled to appear on the Daily Show Thursday. And while he probably won't be accompanied with a background of puppies and kittens as he was as a recent guest of the Colbert Report, we doubt he'll be backing out of this one. If anyone is profiting from the viewership from the feud, expect the Daily Show to reap in the rewards come Thursday night. One thing is clear. A well-placed Jon Stewart "F--- you!" is the new standard for comedy gold.
Cramer vs. Stewart: It's on!