I've known Jim for more than 30 years. We've had spats two
times. He was responsible once. I, the
other. I've done business with him and made money with
him. And we started The Street.com together. He is a trusted
and loving friend.
He is now being battered in the press. Mostly by people whose careers are built on ridiculing others. I happened to have watched the "Mad Money" show in which he spoke about Bear Stearns. He did not not not not say that you needn't worry if you had stock in Bear Stearns. He said you need not worry if you had a brokerage account with Bear Stearns. That was true... and still is true. But we all utter silly enough words in the ordinary course of life that we don't have to invent them, and Jim has his share of them. I do, too.
What I think has happened between Cramer and part of the entertainment industry--which the fact and opinion industry is fast coming to resemble--is that Jim is actually animated by a passion. It is the passion of democratic capitalism. That concern is very different from the concerns of the $10-20 million television comedians who ride around in stretch limousines. Those folk are happy when the people are in trouble. Even Jon Stewart and the makers of his "Daily Show" are happy. Jim Fallows, an always righteous commentator (like his ex-boss Jimmy Carter), has elevated him to Edward R. Murrow who was also over-rated in his time.
The folk Cramer has been trying to help all these years with "Mad Money" are basically middle class investors. They certainly have not been helped by mutual funds which are mesmerized by Morningstar's mad 1, 2, 3, 4, 5-star ratings.
Now, Jim was a fervent supporter of Barack Obama. Like the president, he thinks that greed is poisoning the well. Jim gets upset every time the people lose real money, which they have been doing steadily for almost a year. We are still trying to save the big guys more than the common man and woman.
Responding to my Friday Spine on tax havens, iambiguous speculates that the Wall Street firms, CNBC and Cramer, plus K Street and the federal government, are all in cahoots. It's not exactly clear about what. The dumb incoherence of some of my responding readers should upset me. But then there are others who are smart and articulate.
By the way, Alessandra Stanley has done a smart New York Times piece, "High Noon on the Set: Cramer vs. Stewart." She seems to believe that Jim will have the last laugh in this contretemps. I suspect she is correct.
On the night that Cramer and Stewart confronted each other on "The Daily Show," the television audience was the second largest of the year, right behing the Obama inaugural special. Among the top ten in the show's more than 12-year history. Why did such an enormous audience turn to this program? Not to watch Stewart. They can see him every night. The answer is obvious: to see Cramer.