Jon Stewart of The Daily Show enjoys near mythical status as a cult hero of the left for his brilliant parody of the Iraq War and The Bush Administration. Mr. Stewart is an amazing talent and he uses it to propagate his serious views about America and the World under the guise of comedy.
Jim Cramer of CNBC is a rare talent as well. He came out of the Hedge Fund world to launch a TV show about stock picking. He uses crazy buttons that make sounds and uses comedic props to make a boring topic more accessible and fun for his audience. He plays on the similarity of his name with that of Cosmo Kramer of Seinfeld fame.
Both Stewart and Cramer play to their base, a must for any TV personality.
But, on Monday, October 7, 2008, Jim Cramer surprised his viewers with his recommendation that they take money OUT of the stock market if they needed it during the next 5 years. This was an amazing reversal for Jim Cramer whose image has been burned in public consciousness as the ultimate “Buy Stocks” guy. We were very impressed and we called this in an article* on October 11, 2008 as “the best piece of advice rendered on CNBC all year.” In the same article, we lauded Eric Bolling of Fox Business and Jeff Macke of CNBC’s Fast Money for providing similar advice.
But no one else on financial television took the enormous franchise risk that Jim Cramer took when he publicly reversed his stance of a perennial stock bull. His entire TV career is based on his passion for stocks and his conviction that stocks are the best investment for the long term. He knew that he ran the risk of alienating, perhaps permanently, his core base of stock buyers. But, he bet his career on a bold and unconventional call because he thought it was the right call for his audience.
Unlike Jim Cramer, Jon Stewart has never bet his career to make a statement that would anger his core base. In 2006, Jon Stewart had a golden opportunity to do so. The Iraq war was deeply unpopular and it seemed that the entire country, not just his left wing base, was clamoring for withdrawal from Iraq. Against this crowd, stood a lonely general, David Petraeus and his even more lonely President, George Bush. This could have been a great opportunity for Jon Stewart to stand up and support the Iraq surge advocated by the Bush-Petraeus duo. It would have been the right and patriotic move for Jon Stewart. It would also have meant reversing his public stance and possibly putting his TV career on the line.
But, in 2006, Jon Stewart did not have the wisdom or the courage to stand up and be counted like Jim Cramer did in October 2008.
That is the difference between Jim Cramer and Jon Stewart.
* See our article “Investor Biases, Financial TV Coverage and Large Money Manager Agendas” – October 11, 2008 –
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