Jim Cramer is known for wearing his heart on his sleeve. But the host of CNBC's "Mad Money" normally lets his emotions show over matters financial. In August, for example, he went ballistic at Ben Bernanke, pleading with the Fed chairman to lower interest rates in the face of widespread home foreclosures.
This morning, however, Cramer got verklempt not over the discount rate but at the falling fortunes of his friend Eliot Spitzer. Cramer went to Harvard Law with the embattled governor and his wife Silda, and over the years has defended Spitzer against the torrent of criticism directed at the so-called sheriff of Wall Street for his high-handed tactics.
Cramer appeared on this morning's Today to discuss with Meredith Vieira
yesterday's dramatic Fed move. But at the end of the interview, Vieira
raised the Spitzer situation, and that sent Cramer to the verge of
tears. The transcript below doesn't do justice to just how emotional
Cramer became, so readers might want to view the video.
MEREDITH VIEIRA: You've had a couple of very rough days on a personal level; I know that you're good friends with Governor Spitzer and his wife Silda, you all went to Harvard Law School together. When news of this scandal first broke, what went through your mind?
CRAMER [fighting back a sob]: Well, first, it's not tough for me. But I was on air, and, um, I was denying it, cuz it was inconceivable to me. This is, he's a friend of mine. And it's inconceivable! But it happened. He's a great guy. And, you know, I love him and I really love his wife, and it's just very sad. It's just very sad.
VIEIRA: Meanwhile, you have so many people on Wall Street who are celebrating what happened.
CRAMER: I know. Because they hate him.
VIEIRA: He made a lot of enemies when he was Attorney General. They were cheering on the stock exchange when the news broke. How do you deal with their reaction? These are your colleagues. He is your friend.
CRAMER: I've had great ammo to shut 'em up. I don't have any ammo. I don't have anything I can say. Um, yeah, I've defended him for years because he's my friend for a long time and he'll still always be my friend, and so will Silda. But I didn't have anything to tell them to shut up. They have the edge, cuz Eliot screwed up, and I've always defended him because I think what he was doing was right. But now I just have to listen like everybody else to all the bad things that they say about him. And he is a hated figure, but I don't want to come on and say he's a good man, cuz no one like him now. But he's done a lot of good things, and it's just a sad thing. It's just very sad.
VIEIRA: You know, everybody's heart is going out to Silda, and the daughters. You know her very well. Today the New York Times is reporting aides to the governor claim she is the one saying to him "don't leave, don't step down, I want you to stay on as governor." Knowing her as well as you do, would that surprise you, for her to say something like that?
CRAMER: She loves, well, I think she loves Eliot. Uh, I know that he always worshipped her, so it's hard. I mean I don't want to make any excuses for what he did. I can't believe it! But she loved him; I don't know. It's awkward for me; this is different from the market. Um, you know, I just feel really bad for them, I feel bad for the girls and I really feel bad for Sil-- that's what I said to him, I said "let me speak to Silda," because I feel bad for you, but it's silly that you feel bad for him.
VIEIRA: It's a personal tragedy on a lot of levels.
CRAMER: It's for them. It's not, look, I've just known him for a long time. I obviously didn't know him as well as I thought.
Note: Linking to this item, Allahpundit suggests that Cramer could have been the source of the CNBC scoop about Spitzer's apparently imminent announcement of his resignation.