Friday, March 13, 2009

Cramer v. Stewart

A few words on what I think will be the interview of the week if not the month. For those of you out of the loop, Jim Cramer of CNBC's Mad Money was the guest on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart after a week of squabbling back and forth. Stewart was at his best and worst last night. His worst because he barely let Cramer speak, letting his emotions overwhelm his skills as an interviewer. His best because it was reminiscent of the oft replayed Crossfire episode where Stewart took Tucker Carlson and to a lesser extent Paul Begala to task for their coverage of politics. Stewart seemed to channel the anger of a nation and let Jim Cramer stand in for America's financial industry. Cramer acted like a diplomat in a hostile capital: quiet and conciliatory. There was none of Cramer's trademark energy, anger and humour. Stewart ambushed Cramer with video of the former hedgefund manager explaining how to artificially lower a stock's share price without getting caught. Cramer could only watch uncomfortably and apologize. Cramer's attempts to defend himself and his network seemed half-hearted. His only real argument seemed to be that Wall Street executives had lied during their interviews on CNBC. Stewart was having none of it.

In the 1930's, bank robbers gained the status of cult heroes as people found solace in the damage done to the banks which had wrought such havoc in their lives. Stewart struck a similar populous chord last night. He was uncompromisingly angry. He was ruthless. When he said "we" when talking about the American people, he did not risk much dissent from Main Street. There will be those who will be like Tucker Carlson was in the middle of Stewart's Crossfire interview when he grumbled "I thought you were supposed to be funny." However, his fans will be content. Stewart is popular not just because he's funny but because he's funny and in touch with the frustrations that modern America has with itself. Cramer will not like Carlson fade to black. I think both Cramer and Stewart realized the potential for this feud. Mad Money and The Daily Show do not have a huge overlap in audience. I think they probably both gained fans this week from the cross-pollenization. Cramer looked like he was taking his medicine last night and it may prove to have been good for him.

1 comment:

Pareta said...

agreed - such a great interview! The buildup was hilarious too.

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