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This Is Not a F- - -ing Game


Jim Cramer's evisceration by The Daily Show may mean the demise of financial gurus.

"I understand that you want to make finance entertaining, but it's not a f - - - ing game."
- Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, to Jim Cramer

Indeed. We live in strange times. Collectively, our national intoxication with all things finance runs fierce and deep. From moment to moment, no one really knows whether to laugh, cry, or do both at the same time. And so the air on the street is juiced with a mildly psychotic hum. Being a native Kentuckian, I enjoy it, but not everyone is built to handle this kind of environment. The stress can be too much.

How did things ever degenerate to the point where it seemed either appropriate, or even mildly entertaining, to turn finance into a game show like Jim Cramer's Mad Money?

We'll get to that. But first, let's clear something up about what's really going on in the Jon Stewart vs. CNBC battle, which CNBC cleverly turned into the Jon Stewart vs. Jim Cramer battle.

This is not about Jim Cramer.

It never was. It's about the perceived responsibility financial media has to report and discuss financial issues that may be unpopular. Popularity is a sore point for television networks - for all media, really. There's no "build-it-and-they-will-come" playbook for keeping the lights on and paying the bills. One thing we've learned while trying to build a financial media platform at Minyanville: Advertisers don't like it when you say negative things about them.

Several months ago, Washington Mutual pulled an advertising campaign from us after we published a story saying the former banking giant was dangerously close to tipping over the edge and collapsing. Then, they tipped over the edge and collapsed.

But back to Cramer.

There comes a point in every junkie's descent when the tentative restraint of self-consciousness and self-image loosens up just enough to let the freak out. For most of us, once that line is crossed, there's no going back, ever.

Naturally, no one knows when that moment will arrive. Indeed, the unpredictability of it is what lends the trip down the chute from recreational abuser to full-on foaming-at-the-mouth dope-fiend its delusional aura of impossibility; the conviction that It Just Won't Happen to Me.

For Jim Cramer, that moment came last night on The Daily Show.

It's conventional wisdom that you can't go off half-cocked calling famous people like Jim Cramer a metaphorical junkie and freak without some kind of substantiation and context. In the old days, people were beaten and thrown in jail for far less.

But this is the Age of Self-Evidence. Waist-deep as we are in facts based on theories and weird anti-truths assembled from half-baked rumors and innuendo bubbling up from Wall Street, what's a little more kindling on the fire?

In the metaphorical land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. And up until the credit bubble burst and collapsed, Jim Cramer was that one-eyed king.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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