Jon Stewart has had his fun lately with the on-air talent from CNBC, and now team NBC - the cable squad, including the "Morning Joe" crew on MSNBC - is firing back, with stock shouter Jim Cramer booked to visit Stewart Thusday.
Stewart, who hosts the fake news program "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central has been taking the financial market mavens at CNBC to task since Rick Santelli, one of the network's talking heads, threw a megahit populist rant on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange last week. Santelli gained embed fame when he called the Obama administration to task over plans to help bail mortgageholders out with federal money.
Santelli, who whipped the traders on the floor into a frenzy of outrage over the promise of public assistance, had booked to come on Stewart's show, but canceled last minute last Wednesday.
"The Daily Show" had prepared a video skewering of Santelli and his CNBC colleagues to play before he came on as it was, and ran the 10-plus minute piece as a flaming spear aimed his way when he,as Stewart put it, "bailed out" himself. And it was on in a quickly brewing feud that threatens to blow up the internet.
Teeth were nashed and voices were raised in the debate over the blame to be placed at the feet of CNBC for the lack of predictive reporting on the economic and banking crisis consuming the globe.
Should they have been taking tougher looks at the companies and markets they covered? Was their investment advice filled with shoddy reasoning and reckless TV bravado? Or was Stewart simply a primping comedian who mined a rich catalogue of video prognostication for cheap laughs?
The latter opinion is what CNBC's sister network, MSNBC weighed in with on Joe Scarborough's "Morning Joe" show Tuesday.
Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, brought CNBC "Mad Money" host Cramer, a long-time Democrat, on for an 11-minute segment aimed at defending the investment guru to Stewart's rants. The main defense seemed to be that Stewart's staff had nothing better to do than dig through hours of video to find whatever mistakes they could in a cynical attempt to mine laughs at the expense of context.
Some might call that reporting or even demanding accountability, but Cramer and company cried foul, going so fr as to claim the comedian was acting in a politically partisan manner.
Stewart, not to be outdone, came back Tuesday night with a revised video diatribe aimed solely at Cramer, taking his claims of innocence over Bear Sterns buying advice and finding footage to counterdict his protests, including a "buy" recommendation on Sterns stock from as recently as fall of 2008, just weeks before the then $69 stock crashed to $2 as the investment firm completed a freefall.
And now Cramer is getting his chance to fire back in person, with plans to hit Stewart's guest chair Thursday night on "The Daily Show."
If Cramer is smart, he'll show up, unlike Santelli. And he'll be prepared for a pre-interview sendup from Stewart's staff that will be less-than-kind to his recent history and part in the continuing financial collapse.