It's been more than a month since Jon Stewart clobbered Jim Cramer on The Daily Show. Why can't Cramer just let it go?
Speaking to the Ohio State University student newspaper in anticipation of his visit to the campus -- where Cramer's Mad Money show will be taped on Wednesday -- the fiery financial celebrity seems sore over what he considers a nationally televised ambush.
"He told my staff that it was going to be fun, convivial, no clips," Cramer told Ohio State's The Lantern. "Was it a fair fight? No, it wasn't even a fight. I came on with the idea of taking a high-road approach and discussing the issues, obviously [Stewart] came on strictly to try to humiliate me."
Cramer is clearly still smarting from the appearance, though he also points out that the confrontation with Stewart has boosted ratings of his show on General Electric's (NYSE: GE ) majority-owned CNBC.
Good for him, but what did he think would happen? That he and Stewart would be talking about discounted cash flows over a mani-pedi?
You can't go back
"Don't do it, Jimbo," I urged, heading into the late-night showdown. "In defense of Cramer, I don't want to see him get mauled. As the poster child for financial journalism, if his ambassadorial skills take an uppercut to the face, we're all yelling "cut me, Mickey" after a losing round."
He certainly didn't heed -- or even read -- my advice. I only know that he read a critical article of mine from 2006, in which I took him to task for flip-flopping on Intuitive Surgical (Nasdaq: ISRG ) when a "buy and hold" strategy would have been more prudent. He responded graciously, but I guess vocal Cramer critics were few three years ago.
Cramer's far more famous these days. Perhaps that's why he's rubbing salt in last month's wounds, instead of allowing them to heal.
Never underestimate a comedian
Cramer's biggest mistake was growing too comfortable with Comedy Central. After a few well-received stints on The Colbert Report, he figured that he could get off lightly with Stewart.
He failed to realize that the country was feeling cheated by the financial markets, and that he'd just cast himself in the role of the scapegoat. Stewart is only a comedian, but history has a way of padding extra weight to the words of humorists like Mark Twain and Jonathan Swift when they take careful aim at prominent targets.
Just last night, Stewart was still taking shots at Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS ) and AIG (NYSE: AIG ) . That's old news to me. I've already bellyached about the public uproar over $168 million in AIG retention bonuses, which ignores the nearly $13 billion that AIG handed over to Goldman Sachs to make it whole on its claims. I even wondered whether the Teflon-coated Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A ) (NYSE: BRK-B ) would be able to escape without a scrape.
Few cared. My pews are bare because I don't have a popular cable show. However, now that Stewart is picking apart Goldman Sachs and AIG -- and the ties between them and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, which all lead to Goldman Sachs -- watch out.
Live and learn
Stewart may or may not know his financial markets, but Cramer forgot that Stewart knows his audience. Did Cramer really think that he'd be able to turn a lynch mob into a bed of booyahs?
This is no time to gamble. Cramer's TheStreet.com (Nasdaq: TSCM ) is juggling plenty of problems right now. Between last month's resignation of CEO Thomas Clarke and a round of layoffs, a little stability would be nice for Cramer's company in particular, and the industry in general.
Move on, Cramer. Learn your lesson and come back stronger: Don't remove the pin from any grenade that you're not willing to swallow.
Cram a little more Cramer dissection into your life: