An apologetic Jim Cramer isn't a good Jim Cramer.
Financial journalism's biggest celebrity looked defeated on The Daily Show last night. He went in willing to take his lumps, but appeared lifeless after Jon Stewart kept playing clips from a recently unearthed 2006 video.
It is in that video where Cramer discusses ethically abhorrent hedge fund tactics. If they are not legally incriminating, they may very well be professionally incriminating.
Cramer was making the most of the crosshairs, feasting on the media attention it attracted. Heck, he even found his way onto Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia's (NYSE: MSO ) flagship home crafts show.
I guess he didn't see the pummeling coming. I did, "fully aware of the trap," and urging Cramer to not do the show, despite the primal instinct for publicity.
This all comes at a sensitive moment for Cramer's TheStreet.com (Nasdaq: TSCM ) . The financial media company announced this morning that CEO Thomas Clarke is leaving. CNBC majority owner General Electric (NYSE: GE ) was slapped with a long-term debt rating downgrade by Standard & Poor's yesterday.
I can't defend Cramer's words from the 2006 clip, but I was surprised to see the Mad Money host spend way too much time shrugging his shoulders when questioned about his bad calls. Why didn't he fight back harder when Stewart accused CNBC -- and financial media in general -- of allowing individual investors to be swindled and played by fat cat speculators?
When Cris Collinsworth or Dan Marino makes an NFL game prediction or a fantasy football lineup suggestion, will Stewart be there to lash them out for picking the Bengals to win or when Tom Brady pulls up lame?
Of course not. The implication is that while bettors and money fantasy leagues may lose cash by following crummy advice, the economy won't crumble on the basis of a dropped pass or a horrific MRI. No one is going to nationalize the Detroit Lions, though that may not be a bad idea at this point.
The point is that anyone who goes out on a limb is going to get burned. No one is perfect. Even Legg Mason's (NYSE: LM ) Bill Miller stumbled after his 15-year winning streak. His mutual fund has now lost to the market in each of the past three years. Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE: BRK-A ) (NYSE: BRK-B ) Warren Buffett is the greatest investor of our time, yet half of his largest passive stock investments started out the year under water.
Instead of defending his right to be human, Cramer let Stewart skewer the financial media's irresponsibility in not catching the economic malaise sooner. Maybe the irony is that mainstream media is raining down on financial media's coverage at a time when the market has been rallying for three straight days and Citigroup (NYSE: C ) is waxing positive on its operating profitability prospects.
Yes, Stewart owned Cramer last night. Now it's time for individual investors to get the last laugh.
Cram a little more Cramer dissection into your life: