Saturday, August 08, 2015

When Jon Stewart Took Down CNBC’s Jim Cramer

Joe Nocera, NYT
AUG. 7, 2015

It began, you’ll perhaps recall, with the Santelli rant.

It was Feb. 19, 2009, and on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” the discussion was about an Obama administration plan to help underwater homeowners. Becky Quick, one of the anchors, asked Rick Santelli, the network’s commodities reporter, who was at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, for his reaction. Santelli responded with an angry diatribe, describing homeowners who couldn’t afford their mortgages as “losers.” Turning to the traders in the commodities pit, he asked loudly, “How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage?” The traders began booing. Santelli looked back at the camera. “President Obama, are you listening?” he shouted.

The Santelli rant caught Jon Stewart’s attention. He and his writers began paying closer attention to CNBC, and by early March they had prepared a show that was less about Santelli than about the inherent problem of producing a steady stream of “entertaining” business news, which was CNBC’s mission. Santelli had even agreed to be the guest.

Days before the show was scheduled to air, however, Santelli canceled. “The Daily Show’s” bookers quickly needed to find a replacement guest. They found, gulp, me.

In all the encomiums tossed at Stewart this week, as he ended his magnificent 16-year run at “The Daily Show,” almost everyone has made reference to “the Cramer takedown” — his famous 2009 interview with the CNBC personality Jim Cramer. Having played a small role in the show that led to the Cramer takedown, I got to thinking about Stewart’s approach to the financial crisis and its aftermath.

(More here.)

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