After a week of pointed verbal barbs, host Jon Stewart sat face-to-face with financial analyst Jim Cramer on Comedy Central’s "The Daily Show" and continued the assault Thursday. Stewart blamed Cramer and cable network CNBC for being irresponsible cheerleaders in the lead-up to the stock market meltdown.
Stewart, whose acerbic brand of satire centers largely on the political news of the day, has held Cramer’s frenetic, nearly cartoonish, stock-advice show, “Mad Money,” and other CNBC programming up as examples of an anything-goes attitude that contributed to the financial collapse. “I understand you want to make finance entertaining, but it’s not a [expletive] game,” Stewart said during the recorded interview, segments of which aired on Thursday night. “When I watch that, I can’t tell you how angry that makes me.” Stewart’s blistering criticism of Cramer this week has including a censored, two-word phrase he spoke into the camera after airing video of Cramer enthusiastically urging viewers to buy stock in Bear Stearns. The global investment bank and brokerage firm collapsed soon after the comments aired and was eventually sold with stock prices less than one-fifth what they were when Cramer pushed them. Cramer has fired back. In a string of interviews with NBC news outlets affiliated with CNBC, Cramer disputed some of Stewart’s claims and noted times he’s made more cautious comments about the economy. In one interview, he sarcastically feigned distress at being attacked by a comedian and, on an appearance on Thursday’s “The Martha Stewart Show,” pounded a wad of dough with a rolling pin, pretending it was Stewart’s face. “Mr. Cramer, don’t you destroy enough dough on your own show … ” Stewart said early in the program. After declaring he’s a “big fan of the show,” Cramer appeared contrite during the interview. “I think that everyone could come in under criticism because we all should have seen it more,” Cramer said. “I don’t think anyone should be spared in this environment.” Cramer pushed back very little in an interview far more serious than most that Stewart conducts. He complained when Stewart suggested CNBC’s reporters are “in bed” with Wall Street financiers and said he’s worked with government officials to try to crack down on abuses in the industry. “Absolutely, there’s shenanigans, and we should call them out,” Cramer said. “Everyone should. I should do a better job at it.” Stewart did call it “unfortunate” that Cramer has become the prime whipping boy in a larger complaint — “the gap between what CNBC advertises itself as and what it is.” “We’re both snake-oil salesmen to a certain extent,” Stewart said. “But we do label it ‘snake oil’ here.”