There was something unusual about Jim Cramer’s appearance last night on “The Daily Show.” We’ve never seen a Jon Stewart guest so obviously expecting to get his ass kicked, and never seen Stewart kick anyone’s ass so thoroughly.
In fact, Cramer was so sweaty, nervous and contrite, and Stewart dished so much shit to him — showing 2006 clips of the CNBC financial shouting head telling people how to manipulate the market and, basically, telling Cramer that he was a co-conspirator — “disingenuous at best and criminal at worst” — in a giant fraud that had been played on investors — that you might think it was something out of The Wrestler, a rigged match in which the supervillain allows himself to be defeated by the crowd favorite.
Cramer had reasons to take a dive. Even in the pugnacious response he gave Tuesday to Stewart’s earlier, mocking reports on the irrational exuberance Cramer and other financial “analysts” peddled in the run-up to the Wall Street collapse, Cramer took care to say he was a Democrat who didn’t like what the Republicans had done to the economy, either, and that Hank Paulson had “confused” him and that he’d been “had,” etc. He was looking for wiggle room even while giving a rebuttal.
Cramer must have known the time was absolutely wrong for him to throw up clouds of econospeak, as conservatives have been doing since the market collapse, in an attempt to convince Stewart and his viewers that they didn’t have enough erudition to criticize him. No one cares: they know they’ve been screwed and that the market experts were the ones who dosed them with roofies. Also, Cramer’s appearance on “The Daily Show” came on the day Bernie Madoff finally confessed to his ponzi scheme and went to jail. And people are beginning to talk about investigating Cramer for his collusions.
So there was no need for Cramer to fix the fight with Stewart beforehand — he came on the show ready to eat shit and get out from under.
He may have thought Stewart would be collegial at least. If so he was mistaken. Stewart usually plays a little showbiz footsie even with creeps like Bill O’Reilly, but he approached the interview as if Cramer had killed his sister and Stewart had learned forgiveness but was not about to let him excuse himself for his crimes. Even after Cramer had gamely agreed to try and do some real reporting on his show rather than just taking the word of his CEO buddies that everything was roses and passing it on to the consumer, Stewart pounded him for selling “selling snake oil as vitamin tonic” and for aiding in the destruction of thousands of his fellow citizens’ financial security.
It might be premature to call the clash historic television, but it definitely hits a historic sweet spot: the king of big-biz bullish TV shouters atoning before Stewart for crimes against the public, like Henry II submitting to the Pope to be scourged for the death of Thomas Becket. Photos (cc) Flyguy92586 and DL (not Hughley).