The ongoing battle between Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer took an interesting turn Tuesday when NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker said that it was absurd for anyone to blame the financial crisis on CNBC.
Zucker also stood up for Cramer:
I think Jon Stewart was incredibly unfair to CNBC and to the business media in general. Everybody wants to find a scapegoat. I’m upset that my 401(k) isn’t what it was. But to suggest that CNBC is responsible is absurd. Last year, Jim Cramer was out in front during two days in particular, when he went after Ben Bernanke. He told viewers six months ago to go to cash now. It’s like holding BusinessWeek responsible for Nov. 2007 for suggesting that AIG was the best stock to buy. You can’t look at any singular call that CNBC or Jim Cramer makes. I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve done.
Earlier on Tuesday, Jon Friedman of MarketWatch was far less supportive:
Call it a hunch, but I suspect Stewart's criticism will wind up having far-reaching effects on the dynamics of business-news television. [...]
For its part, CNBC's ratings have declined since Stewart blasted CNBC on his show, as Portfolio.com pointed out on March 13. Jim Cramer's "Mad Money" viewership declined 10% in the 25-to-54 age group, but only 4% among all viewers -- "suggesting that maybe some of those bored college kids who watch Jon Stewart did, in fact, tune in to find out exactly what is the deal with this Jim Cramer character," Portfolio.com noted. Read the Portfolio.com article.
Yet, that's not how CNBC scores the numbers:
CNBC spokesman Brian Steel said that for the week of March 9, CNBC's "Business Day," the block of programming on CNBC daily from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., delivered 355,000 total viewers. For the same week last year, "Business Day" had 340,000 total viewers.
That looks like a 4.6 percent increase to me...but I'm not a comedian.