Early on, Stewart told Cramer: "I understand you want to make finance entertaining, but it's not a f--king game." Like the stock market, it went downhill from there.
The reviews were not good.
Variety's Brian Lowry said that might have been the most foolish appearance by someone whose name sounded like "Cramer" since "Seinfeld" went off the air:
Jon Stewart grilled CNBC's Jim Cramer for all but five minutes of his show on Thursday night, while the "Mad Money" host feebly kept promising to do better. He should have stayed home.
In the process, Stewart again displayed journalistic instincts that put many conventional TV news organizations -- including CNBC -- to shame. The key exchange, in fact, hinged on Stewart explaining to Cramer what journalists do after Cramer threw up his hands at the idea that CNBC might have misled viewers because CEOs had lied to him.
"I'm under the assumption you don't just take their word at face value," Stewart said, hitting at his central point: That CNBC is so enamored with, and has been so deeply in bed with, the financial heavyweights that their breathless coverage was "disingenuous at best and criminal at worst."
Maureen Ryan of The Chicago Tribune said this:
Stewart's grilling of Cramer reminded me of David Letterman's confrontations with John McCain and Rod Blagojevich in the last year or so. Letterman is a master of being affable and accessible while not cutting his guests a bit of slack. On Thursday, it was as if Stewart was channeling Dave's homespun, regular-guy relentlessness. Cramer didn't know what hit him until it was much too late.
Steve Rosenbaum on The Huffington Post said this:
Cramer lamely sat sleeves rolled up and sweaty in the guest's chair and responded with "We could have done better", Stewart's basic line of questioning came back, time and time again, to the simple refrain: Is CNBC a news network? - and If so, do they have any obligation to investigate, report, question what they put on their air? This is no small matter. What Stewart charged last night was that CNBC was in fact a co-conspirator in the meltdown of the US Stock Markets. That while Cramer and his 'in the know' buddies operated a fast moving, highly leveraged, game of "Credit Default Swap Poker", Cramer on air was preaching the standard - long market vision, keep your money in - buy and sell shares, but overall accept that the markets are sound.
Finally, David Zurswik of The Baltimore Sun had this to offer:
At the end of The Daily Show last night, Jon Stewart said of his interview with CNBC host Jim Cramer, “I hope that was as uncomfortable to watch as it was to do.”
It was. But what a remarkable public service the Comedy Central comedian performed in gutting Cramer, CNBC and parts of the business news press corps before millions of viewers. And this on a half-hour cable comedy TV show.
As Stewart assumed the role of stern and angry prosecutor that he maintained through most of the 25 minute conversation, Cramer became more and more pathetic. At one point, he tried to slow Stewart’s assault by promising to be better in the future. But Stewart reminded him about how much damage had already been done to the economy, the country and citizens' lives by what Cramer blithely referred to as “shenanigans" last night.
Cramer must have been hung over by his performance. He skipped his scheduled appearance on "Morning Joe" with Joe Scarborough today.