UPDATED: Cramer vs. Stewart - Macleans.ca

UPDATED: Cramer vs. Stewart

The battle of the TV pundits is on

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Cramer vs. StewartI don’t think I’ve ever seen a network take Jon Stewart’s attacks as personally as NBC/CNBC/MSNBC has taken Stewart’s recent comments about CNBC. Jim Cramer spent the morning going on both MSNBC’s Morning Joe and NBC’s The Today Show to respond to Stewart’s segment last night, which was a response to CNBC’s response to Stewart’s CNBC-bashing last week. Scarborough once again confirms that he is perhaps the dumbest pundit on TV (he’s not particularly crazy, unlike many cable pundits; his specialty is just not understanding anything even after someone explains it to him), and he compounds it by his apparent unawareness that TDS spent much of last night’s episode making fun of Obama.

But Cramer’s hyper-sensitivity and self-absorbed nature is more annoying. He seems obsessed with his own hurt feelings and his need to defend his predictive powers. He’s right that everybody who makes predictions is wrong some of the time, but that was the point of the Daily Show segment: the insanity and destructiveness of having a whole network devoted to Vegas-style gambling tips and baseless predictions, and then seeing these same people on that same network turn around and blast other people for irresponsibility. When Cramer repeats over and over again that Stewart is a “comedian,” you can sort of see his determination to believe that he himself is something more serious than an entertainer and TV huckster. But he really, truly doesn’t understand that it’s not all about him.

The whole thing is a bit like that episode of The Simpsons where Homer is watching a TV sports pundit advise him on which team to bet on. Homer takes the guy’s advice even though it’s clearly a random prediction with no basis in anything, and then he loses. He turns on the TV again and the pundit is focusing entirely on himself and his own track record: “Well, when you’re right 50% of the time, you’re wrong 50% of the time.” (The scene condemns both Homer for being stupid enough to bet his money based on what this guy says, and the pundit for being convinced that there is nothing in the world more important than defending his ability to predict the future.) Scarborough in this clip plays the role of the co-host who chuckles and says “Okay, you’re off the hook.”

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Update: After Cramer made his tour of the NBC-owned shows, Stewart devoted the first third of that night’s show (March 10, 2009) to a response, which included his “rehabilitation tour” of shows owned by his parent company, Viacom. The segment ended with Stewart being edited into episodes of MTV’s The Hills and Nickelodeon’s Dora The Explorer, where Dora’s monkey sidekick threatened to throw feces on Jim Cramer.

After that, The Daily Show booked Cramer as a guest; the interview will air tonight.

Through all this, Stewart has looked a little irritated that the point of the original segment — which had very little to do with Jim Cramer specifically — has been turned into a media-manufactured “feud” between two cable hosts.

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