Jon Stewart of the Daily Show schooled Mad Money host Jim Cramer of CNBC last night.
By the time Cramer came on the show, Stewart and Cramer had been feuding publicly for several days. Cramer was trying cast himself as a humble financial professional who made mistakes, but who is trying to reform a broken system from within.
Stewart confronted Cramer with video clips of his own past admissions about the conduct as a hedge fund manager.
So, it was a stroke of sheer genius on the part of Stewart and the Daily Show writers to load up these clips from The Street showing Cramer the hedge fund manager confessing that when he held a short position, he would create some spurious activity to artificially drive down the price of that asset. "It doesn't take much money," old hedge fund Cramer says in the clip.
Cramer's taped statements are simple declarative sentences in the first person, but the Mad Money host still had the gall to lie to Stewart's face. Confronted with the video of his own confession, Cramer insisted that he'd never confessed, that he was merely being inarticulate in the clips.
These clips are in service of Jon Stewart's larger point, namely, that there exist "two markets"...the long-term investments of ordinary people and the short-term speculative trades of Wall Street. As Stewart tells Cramer, the former is underwriting the excesses of the latter. As a financial news network, Stewart says, CNBC should have been warning ordinary people about the threat of the second market--but instead, Cramer and his buddies cheered on the speculative frenzy.
"We are capitalizing your adventure," Stewart told Cramer:
The full episode is available here, but the site keeps crashing, probably because of massive web traffic.
The Stewart-Cramer interview will be remembered as one of the great televised takedowns of our age. It's a cathartic TV confrontation in which Stewart gets to express our shared anger and resentment to an unrepentant co-conspirator in the financial collapse.
Cramer's probably never going to face a judge or an SEC investigator, or even a disappointed boss--what he did as a cynical cheerleader for the parasitic speculative class was probably legal and even protected speech. But at least Cramer has to sit up there and face the wrath of Jon Stewart in front of millions of viewers. Finally, someone is being held accountable.
The exchange reminded me of Joe Welch's legendary reproach to Joe McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy heartings of 1954:"You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"