All Press Is Good Press?

If you haven't read David Carr's profile of Jim and Mad Money in The New York Times, it's worth checking out: "Jim Cramer Retreats Along With The Dow." It's not the most positive article ever written by a long shot, but compared to some of the press we're used to, it's practically glowing. That said, I prefer Brian Stelter's Times article from a few weeks ago about how Jim tries to explain the crisis on air.

If you read the latest column, you might think that all Jim ever does is recommend stocks. The Stelter piece gave you a better feel for most of what we're actually doing lately: explaining what the heck is going on in a way that regular people can understand.

However, there was one paragraph in David Carr's article that I loved:

"While much has been made of his bad calls, has Mr. Cramer been more wrong than say, Ben Bernanke or Henry Paulson? His enthusiasms may have led some to overindex into a crumbling market, but his audience is composed of consenting adults, aspiring rich guys who are willing to play in the Street to make it happen. He didn’t make the kind of short-sighted executive moves that tipped over investment banks or put taxpayers on the hook. He’s just a barker in front of a tent that is collapsing."

Now, I'm not so hot on that last line, as we've been stressing capital preservation for over a year, our bias has been fairly negative for months and months, and the show hasn't been stock-market televangelism since early 2006. He's acting like we were cheering the market on. Doesn't he remember the rant heard round the world, when Jim said we were heading for financial Armageddon and everyone called him nuts back in August of 2007?

But I like the part about accountability. When we get something wrong, we admit it and apologize. But Mad Money's a cable television show. I haven't heard Ben Bernanke or Hank Paulson apologizing for being behind the curve, for failing to take steps that would've prevented or at least tamed the current crisis earlier. Bernanke spent a year worrying about inflation ahead of the biggest deflationary spiral since the Great Depression, but hardly anyone ever tries to give him a hard time, and certainly not with the vitriol of the usual Cramer-hater. Aside from us and maybe The Daily Show, who gives Hank "the fundamentals are sound" Paulson a hard time, not for political reasons, but for being so wrong for so long? And when people did come out against the feds, it was for pushing a much-needed but politically unpopular bailout package that they should've come up with months earlier. Other than John McCain, where are the people calling for the head, or at least the resignation, of SEC Chairman Chris Cox?

So can anyone tell me, why is it that a cable-television host is held to a higher standard than CEOs and top federal policy makers? I know Jim holds himself to the highest possible standard, if anything too high, but what kind of crazy world is it where people spend more time talking about how Cramer got Wachovia wrong than how Bernanke got almost everything wrong or how Chris Cox made it possible for the shorts to perform financial kesselschlact on financials from AIG, not that it didn't deserve to go down, to Morgan Stanley, at least until the government finally bought some equity in the banks?

Jim's charitable trust owns Morgan Stanley.

Cliff Mason is the Senior Writer of CNBC's Mad Money w/Jim Cramer, and has been that program's primary writer, in cooperation with and under the supervision of Jim Cramer, since he began at CNBC as an intern during the summer of 2005. Mason was the author of a column at during 2007, which he describes as "hilarious, if short-lived." He graduated from Harvard College in 2007. It was at Harvard that Mason learned to multi-task, mastering the art of seeming to pay attention to professors while writing scripts for Mad Money. Mason has co-written two books with Jim Cramer: Jim Cramer's Mad Money: Watch TV, Get Richand Stay Mad For Life: Get Rich, Stay Rich (Make Your Kids Even Richer). He is 100% responsible for any parts of either book that you did not like.

Mason has also had a fruitful relationship with Jim Cramer as his nephew for the last 23 years and will hopefully continue to hold that position for many more as long as he doesn't do anything to get himself kicked out of the family.

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