Setting the Record Straight on Bear Stearns

Enough is enough. For nearly a year now the calumny that Jim Cramer told viewers not to sell Bear Stearns stock the very week before it imploded has been circulating. This weekend you could even read it in the Washington Post in an article by Joel Lovell:

"I'm comforted by the fact that last March, just days before Bear Stearns stock became worthless, Jim Cramer's head nearly exploded off his shoulders, so intense was his conviction that his viewers should NOT. SELL. BEAR. But what I don't understand is the hundreds of thousands of people who still tune in every night to hear what he has to say."

I just want to take a moment to set the record straight, because almost any time I tell people what I do, they bring up this particular piece of misinformation.

On Tuesday, March 11, 2008, Jim answered an e-mail from a viewer who had a brokerage account at Bear Stearns. The viewer was worried that he would lose that money, something that did not happen to Bear's depositors, but did eventually happen to those who kept their cash at Lehman Brothers.

Jim responded by telling the viewer not to pull his money, saying that Bear was "likely to be taken over." And sure enough, JPMorgan Chase swooped in to the rescue that weekend. This was not a question about Bear Stearns the stock. I can understand why ordinary people might be confused, because, sure, Jim could have been clearer, although there wasn't much time left in the segment. But I don't get how a journalist who covers this stuff, like the guy at the Washington Post over the weekend, would make and perpetuate this mistake.

Maybe an analogy will help. Jim doesn't think you should own Citigroup or Bank of America. But it would also be crazy to pull your deposits out of those banks. That's all Jim was saying about Bear Stearns. He was trying not to cause a run on the darned investment bank. And in the end, he turned out to be right.

Cramer's charitable trust owns JPMorgan Chase.

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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