Friday, March 13, 2009

The Cramer Vs Stewart Feud Wraps Up?

I wrote about the Jon Stewart and his panning of CNBC
the other day, and I thought I would bring you all up to speed on the saga. Jim Cramer was brave enough to appear on Stewart’s Daily Show and take his lumps in person, which Stewart happily dished out. I have the unedited videos below from this show (caution, there are a few colorful words used) and you can see and hear for yourself. My general opinion is that both Cramer and Stewart have benefited by this on-air disagreement, as it could mean a ratings bump for both of them.

Stewart, though, may have been a little hard on Cramer by singling him out. I have been watching Cramer's show off and on for years, I first picked up on him in the mid-90s when he started up He has made some good calls and some bad ones. There isn't any financial analyst who gets everything right. I always take what he says – and all the rest of the financial talking heads - with a grain of salt. I think Stewart did an excellent job of bringing out Cramer's past misdeeds, and I think Cramer handled his responses calmly.

I do take Stewart to task, though, for not highlighting the other financial networks like Bloomberg and Fox that also failed to uncover the impending collapse. If you have ever watched the business shows on Fox News on Saturday morning for example, you would know that those people have said a lot worse than Cramer. I also wonder about the Fox’s talking heads own motivations for what they say on air. Case in point, Brenda Buttner, who didn't disclose that she frequently had her real estate husband on her show (Tom Adkins) and all he did was pump up real estate, even early on when it looked like the bubble was going to burst. (While I haven’t seen him on her show for a while, I understand he still shows up on the Fox Business channel, still pumping up real estate.) That was a clear case of a conflict, I thought. Fox also does a good job of making projections that don't come true. In fact, CNBC does a much better job of reporting the news than Fox, whereas Fox seems more laden with opinion.

But back to Steward’s displeasure with how Cramer and/or CNBC didn’t uncover the financial messes and report on them before they happened. I find myself wondering with all the government agencies, news agencies, auditors, etc. out there, that someone like Bernie Madoff could have gotten away with what he did, and how the banks were allowed to get into so much trouble. You would think 60 Minutes would have picked up on it, but even that show has gone somewhat soft. There aren’t really any hard hitting investigative reporters any more, if there are, they are probably being quashed by the corporate machines who worry more about their own liability and profits. I point my fingers at people like financial auditors and government agencies whose job it is to ferret out wrongdoing and corruptionon. But I suppose even Jon Stewart can’t hold anyone accountable unless someone else flushes out the story first.

Cramer isn't the only one who deserves to be called out. I have to give him credit, though, for showing up face to face with Stewart and taking his lumps. Most people would not have had the guts to do it. Of course, both Stewart and Cramer know that this will mean ratings for both of them, so both of them come out winners in this feud.

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