UPDATED: Cramer vs. Stewart

The battle of the TV pundits is on


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.”


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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UPDATED: Cramer vs. Stewart

  1. I’ve seen both the segments. CNBC should just run up the white flag. They keep digging themselves a deeper hole.

  2. CNBC should just run up the white flag. They keep digging themselves a deeper hole.

    Lord, ain’t that the truth! That clip is hilarious. Cramer’s going on and on about how he’s “Mr. Serious studies the economy carefully and diligently, even if he’s occasionally wrong” (ha!) while Stewart is “Just a comedian”, so his attacks are hardly worth “serious” comment. Meanwhile Scarbourgh seems to suggest that Stewart should abandon comedy, and start seriously studying the economy to help America find a way forward.

    Scarborough’s basically making Stewart’s case for him. It’s time that Stewart stop trying to make people laugh and start helping to guide the American people. ‘Cause the people who’ve put themselves forward as the serious guides for the American people (Like, say, Joe Scarborough and Jim Cramer) have been f’ing up that job ROYALLY.

    The whole “he no longer speaks truth to power” bit is hilarious too. if you’re gonna go on and on (and on…) about last night’s episode of the Daily Show… perhaps you should have WATCHED last night’s episode of the Daily Show!!!

  3. One of the commentors on the video has it in a nutshell, I’d say:

    So the real news people are upset that the fake news guy isn’t doing enough real news? Do I have that right?

    Also, the folks at CNBC ought to keep in mind why CNN’s Crossfire is no longer on the air.

    • Pretty sure that’s why Cramer is scrambling to get ahead of this. He knows precisely why Crossfire went off the air.

      • LOL, good point.

        Lesson for the “next Cramer” (aka the next, next Tucker Carlson): Stay FAR away from Joe Scarborough!

      • The way Jon Stewart demolished Crossfire was a thing of beauty. Stewart is the most powerful satirist of his generation and his writing staff is incredibly talented. The big difference between those CNBC shows and Crossfire is that Crossfire’s ratings were already in the toilet, which made it especially vulnerable.

  4. It is curious how they go on to mention that while GWB was in power, Stewart had something to say about him every night, but now it’s all about Cramer, yet when you watch the link Stewart makes fun of Obama almost immediately after finishing up with Cramer.

    These guys at MSNBC can’t even tell the truth about what’s happened and easily verifiable, why on earth would anybody listen to them for predictions about what’s going to happen?

  5. I think Cramer is absolutley hilarious – I love the sound effects – thank god I don’t take stock tips from anyone anymore I got burned years ago and now do my own research!

    • I love Cramer’s shtick too actually, but his problem here is that he’s trying to occupy some sort of high ground where he won’t seems to even acknowledge that it’s a shtick.

      The whole thing that started this second bit from Stewart was Cramer CALLING HIM OUT for claiming that he praised Bear Sterns a week before it went under, when he actually praised them 11 days before they went under. And, frankly Stewart (though rather incredulously!) APOLOGIZED for that, lol.

      • Well, to be fair to Cramer, he’s constrained by his job to pretend like he knows what he’s talking about. You can’t just up and admit you have no idea and that a blind, retarded monkey could do as good of a job with predicting the market.

        However, there’s no upside to doing what Cramer is trying to do. What would have been by today a long-forgotten 3-minute segment has now become a news story that you’re just not letting die. And making yourself look even worse in the process.

  6. Maybe Cramer & Stewart have some sort of mutual promotion agreement, kind of like Limbaugh & Obama have going.

    • What’s really weird is that Cramer was just on Colbert this week.

    • Well, you gotta work with the other party’s leadership, right?

    • you mean what Limbaugh wishes was goin on between him and Obama.

  7. Great post. More like this, please.

  8. Stewart and Colbert Nation,

    Here is a Promo Poster/Image I made for Thursday’s showdown! Hopefully Colbert or Stewart will see this and use it on Wednesday to promot the show!



  9. I’m looking forward to Cramer answering the charges at deepcapture.com in court, not responding to the jabs of a court jester. If you study propaganda the whole tempest in a teapot being addressed in this fluff is called “limited hangout”. Serious charges about manipulation and corruption and the financial cancer of “naked short selling” are addressed at length on the Patrick Byrne blog refered to above.

    The calculated destruction of public companies for personal profit by driving down share prices by floating “phantom shares” and failing to settle trades, enabled by corruption in the financial media and an army of hacks making scandalous comments on stock message boards is an on-going criminal enterprise.

    The Deepcapture thesis is that Cramer is very near the center of the spider web of deceit.

  10. Fortunately, I never believed for a second that average joe had a hope in hell of playing on a level field with the sharks on Wall/Bay street. So I never put any money in it. Against all sage advice I paid off my morgage instead. By sheer luck I sold my home, against all sage advice, before everything collapsed last fall.(Remember, we were told prices could only go up,up,up.) I do not owe a dime to anyone on planet Earth, rent a modest place I can easily afford and have more money at the end of the month than I had at the beginning. I guess it’s not a “sexy” investment vehicle(whatever that is), it’s called living within your means and using common sense. Where I grew up you could smell a snakeoil salesmen a mile away. I would channel graze past that huckster with the sound turned down and could smell the BS. Well, a fool and his money comes to mind here. Cheers.

    • You’re 100% spot on.


      Just Another Damn Fool

  11. My original post seems to have disappeared, so I will give the gist of it. Many of us were excited in anticipation over Jim Cramer’s expected thrashing. It is worth asking though, how, if at all, anybody might go up against Jon Stewart.

    The critical defence Stewart has against anything is that of IRONY. Make a serious critique, and Stewart will shirk away from any sort of journalistic obligations. “Uhhh… I run a fake news show. I don’t pretend at all to be an informed source on ANYTHING.” Yet the lie of that is exposed time and time again as we “go to camera three”, and hear Stewart’s editorializing. Jon Stewart is but a more evolved form of Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly – unassailable because like a chameleon he can morph into a disaffected comedian or a bombastic and partisan commentator at will.

    We can buy “its just a fake news show” all we like, but at the end of the day, Stewart is the main source of news (and viewpoint) for millions of young Americans in particular. Indeed, he is now largely a captive of that audience he created – as the voice of outrage against the Bush administration, Stewart is at least partly responsible for Obama’s 80%+ approval among youth, and among his own audience. I think Stewart, a good cynical gen-X’er wants to bring truth to power when it comes to Obama, but can’t. So often the result is awkward silence from fans of a show where partisan cheers are as common as laughter.

    Personality-driven news in general is both a product of, and a major contributor to the deep partisan divisions that cleave America in two. Viewers get entertainment, they get a slant – and in fact they DO get facts. The PEW centre found that viewers of such shows (ranging from the Daily Show to Rush Limbaugh) are generally better informed about public events than those that watch more traditional tv news sources.

    The problem isn’t a lack of information, the problem is that when our news sources are openly partisan, we need rebuttal and debate. We don’t have that. Even when anchors attack other anchors (eg. Keith Olbermann’s “worst person in the world”) the people that actually see that are rarely viewers of the O’Reilly factor. Moreover, people rarely get ALL the facts they need. Viewers of the Daily Show, for instance, generally did quite poorly at identifying the number of US casualties in Iraq. Rush Limbaugh viewers were less likely to know what Sunnis were than Daily Show viewers.

    The second problem is focus. Neutral news shows like The National address a wide range of issues, whether they are boring, or unfunny. That is not the case of personality-driven shows. The Daily Show is mostly focused on process issues (so and so was hypocritical, torture is bad, etc.). Rush and O’Reilly are mostly focused on hot-button culture war stuff.

    Unfortunately, we can’t bring Walter Cronkite out of cryogenic storage to save the news, and barring a successful Canadian invasion of the US, we can’t replace all newscasters with Peter Mansbridge. What we can do is think critically about the soft news shows we do watch. What we can do is see how well the Daily Show – which clearly has editorial statements that can be critiqued – would stand up to the news clip hit-jobs it likes to direct against others (are you listening, Rick Santelli?).

    eg. Jon Stewart’s very tense debate with John McCain about the surge (punctuated by boos from the audience directed at McCain). Of course now it seems pretty clear that McCain was right on that one.

    eg. Stewart’s timidness in going after Obama for some really dramatic flip-flops on almost every major issue.

    For evidence that Republicans are losing the irony war (and thus their ability to target my generation) see:

    Jokes targeting (by late night shows from August 23rd till Nob 11)…
    McCain: 658
    Palin: 566
    Bush: 244
    Obama: 243
    Biden: 87
    Clinton: 84

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