In what began a week ago as an attack on CNBC's Business News coverage and escalated into a head-to-head battle between CNBC's Stock Market pundit Jim Cramer and Comedy Central's Jon Stewart, came to what seemed to be a conclusion on Thursday night as Cramer made a personal appearance on Stewart's Daily Show.
The full show was aired in three parts.
Part One (5 minutes 47 secs)
This first opening salvo begins with a view that CNBC's Rick Santelli was wrong to say the folks suffering foreclosures were losers. Then a discussion about stock-picking, and Cramer's ability to be an expert when so many are losing on stocks, e.g. Cramer saying the markets going down 15% more on Monday and then it rallies and so he dances on the Bear's graves on Tuesday.
Part Two (8 minutes 24 seconds):
This explores and lays open the fact that Cramer sells "snake oil" as "vitamin tablets". It includes a section of the most challenging aspects of Cramer's online life where he encourages hedge funds to short sell as it's not illegal and it makes money (see clip at end of this blog entry).
Stewart accuses Cramer of being two-faced in doing this as, on the one hand, he's meant to help retail investors pick stocks whilst, in his investment world, he's shorting them. It's "dangerous, it's ethically dubious … it feels like we are capitalising your adventure."
Stewart finishes by saying that he "can't reconcile the brilliance and knowledge that you have on the intricacies of the market with the crazy bullshit I see you do every night" on Mad Money.
Cramer says it's a show, and it needs to be understandable.
Stewart responds that the financial news industry is not making a sin of omission, but a sin of coalition with the industry in creating profits from the masses' losses.
Cramer then admits he's "had a lot of CEO's lie" to him on the show.
Part Two finishes with some visceral stuff about stock manipulation.
Part Three (8 minutes 31 seconds) picks up where Part Two left off with Jon Stewart saying that he knows Jim Cramer "wants to make finance entertaining, but it's not a f***ing game":
Stewart claims that you can draw a straight line between financial advice from media advisors such as Cramer, and the weird Wall Street shenanigans that fleeced money from investors. Stewart claims that to call this tsunami of financial crisis something we couldn't see coming was "disingenuous at best and criminal at worst".
Cramer responds that Dick Fuld, ex-CEO of Lehman Brothers, brings me in and "lies to me, lies to me, lies to me" (now that's criminal isn't it?) and that these guys should be indicted.
Stewart continues with pointing the finger at CNBC and saying they're not a regulator, but who's side are they on?
Who are you responsible to – the people with 401k's and hard jobs or the few, not all, on Wall Street who are fleecing them?
Do you take everything at face value, or shouldn't you do some investigative reporting and find out the truth?
And that it's not about Jim Cramer, but about investment reporting and CNBC's reporting about the investment markets and investment community.
"There is the letter of the law and the intent of the law", and it's the latter that failed including failure by the SEC.
Cramer has balls going on live TV with Stewart after the build-up to this, but Stewart won hands-down in stating the truth about how the general public feel.
If you want to see the full Jim Cramer 22nd December 2006 video where he talks about short selling, here it is:
I think the fact that he talks about market manipulation as a "fun game" and a "lucrative game", makes Cramer's future career highly suspect.
Meantime, if you want to see the blogger community reaction to the Show, Technorati have the summary.