Cramer Eats Crow

My wife has pedestrian tastes in her TV fare. I peeked in on her the other night and caught her watching the most vapid and annoying show on television. If you thought “Dancing with the Stars,” “The Biggest Loser,” and “American Idol” rankle as the most tasteless and mindless programming on the tube, have you ever seen the “Real Housewives of New York City?” Trust me. It’s nauseating, and doubly so for anyone who actually grew up here.

This particular episode took place at the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge, which offers free lodging (and a welcome sanctuary) to out-of-town cancer patients receiving treatment at any one of New York’s first-rate hospitals. The dialogue consisted of these dumb-ass “housewives” dissing each other and their husbands while preparing a meal for these brave patients and their families. Frankly, I don’t know what’s worse: listening to these social climbers whine about their vacuous lives or a heavy dose of chemotherapy. But I digress.

Yesterday, I managed to catch another paradoxical food-preparation TV segment. This one featured CNBC’s beleaguered stock-picker Jim Cramer waxing on the economy alongside the convicted stock trader Martha Stewart, as the two baked banana cake on Ms. Stewart’s show. Yikes. What has the world come to? We’re all doomed.

Talking Cramer, did you happen to see his reconciliation with Mr. Stewart last night on “The Daily Show?” Actually, I wouldn’t describe this exchange as a reconciliation. Stewart simply ambushed him, and what’s more, dredged up some fairly incriminating TV clips that showed Cramer boasting of manipulating the market for his own gain. Double yikes.

OK So let’s say you’re Cramer (or CNBC’s) PR rep. In spite of the nastiness between the CNBC and Comedy Central camps these last few weeks, you’d think it’s a safe bet that Stewart would be civil and not go for the jugular. After all, he was relatively gracious to guests like Sen. McCain and Gov. Huckabee in the midst of a most acrimonious political campaign. Well, if you thought Stewart would kiss and make-up, you’d be wrong.

What surprised me most was just how unprepared the usually unflappable “Mad Money” host was. Did he really think he could just wing it after what had percolated in the court of public opinion? Did his ego tell him that any advance interview prep was unnecessary? Didn’t his handlers speak to the writers before the segment to catch a whiff of what lied ahead? I suspect that Cramer ain’t feeling so hot this morning.

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