Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Jim Cramer, CNBC’s host of Mad Money, plans to appear on The Daily Show Thursday, in the midst of an escalating feud between Cramer and the Comedy Central show’s host, Jon Stewart.
Jim Cramer has been the only CNBC employee to publicly respond to Daily Show segments strongly criticizing the television business news channel’s financial coverage during the growing global recession, particularly focusing on specific remarks by made by Cramer.
The feud began on March 4, when The Daily Show aired an eight-minute clip lampooning CNBC. The comedy news show featured several clips of pundits, focusing particularly on predictions or reports by CNBC reporters that The Daily Show argued were overly optimistic or too strongly slanted in favor of the companies being discussed.
In one clip, a CNBC host reported Merrill Lynch said it would not need capital, which The Daily Show followed with a list of billions in bailout money the financial services firm has required since September. In another clip, Jim Cramer is shown allegedly affirming “Your money is safe in Bear Sterns”, followed by a Daily Show statement that the global investment bank went under six days later.
“If I’d only followed CNBC’s advice, I’d have a million dollars today,” Stewart said during the bit, “provided I’d started with a hundred million dollars.”
Although most CNBC reporters and executives declined to comment, Cramer defended himself in a column published Monday, claiming the clip was taken out of context. Cramer said he wasn’t talking about buying Bear Sterns stock, but simply reassuring a viewer that his liquidity held in Bear Sterns was safe.
“The absurdity astounds me,” Cramer said of the Daily Show bit. “The fact that I was right rankles me even more.”
Later that day, The Daily Show responded with another montage of clips, this time more specifically targeting Cramer.
“So Jim Cramer, I apologize,” Stewart said ironically, then promptly showcased video of Cramer suggesting the safety of Bear Stearns stock 5 days prior to the collapse of Bear Stearns on Mad Money’s Lighting Round. Provokingly, Jon Stewart then admitted, “He’s not saying literally ‘I’m asking you to buy Bear Stearns,’ for that you have to go back a full 7 weeks” this time showing video footage of Cramer on January 24, 2008, telling TheStreet.com TV viewers to specifically “buy Bear Stearns” stock 7 weeks before it collapsed.
The following day on March 10, Cramer responded again during a Tuesday appearance on the Today show, saying, “[Jon Stewart] is a comedian, and he’s decided to focus on some calls I made during a bull market. The guy is a comedian. Did I make a mistake? First of all, any time you recommend a stock and it goes down, you’ve made a mistake. Here’s a shocker: Almost every stock is down! Any stock you recommended is bad. You know, Warren Buffett, I could run tapes from him, he would look like a complete fool.”
The feud between The Daily Show and CNBC generated a significant amount of attention in the mainstream media. The Associated Press called the first Daily Show bit a “brutal takedown” of CNBC. Other publications, like New York magazine, defended CNBC, writing, “We doubt there’s a single news outlet that hasn’t made a misstatement regarding the economy in the past year.”
The Thursday Daily Show sketch ran the same day CNBC reporter Rick Santelli was scheduled to appear on the show, to discuss his vocal criticisms of President Barack Obama’s plans for dealing with foreclosures. Santelli cancelled the appearance, but Daily Show executives said the CNBC montage was not retaliatory and that they planned to show it before the cancellation was announced.