The war between CNBC and Comedy Central, which began with Rick Sanelli's rant and spiraled into an exchange of on-air aspersions between Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer, ended last night when Cramer appeared on The Daily Show. You can watch the clips here.
It starts off looking like the proceedings of a truth and reconciliation commission. ("How did we come to this?" Stewart asks. "They're not losers, they're fighters," Cramer says of the mortgage-burdened homeowners.) But then Stewart edges away from compliments ("I can't reconcile the knowledge you have of the intricacies of the market with the crazy bullshit I see you do every night") and goes in for the kill: "I know you want to make finance entertaining, but it's not a fucking game." It's not going to enhance anyone's understanding of derivatives or credit default swaps, but it's pretty entertaining.
And anyway, Stewart's criticism of CNBC seems like it has less to do with the purpose of derivatives than the purpose of a news network. There are substantive issues at stake here -- should hedge funds be regulated and so forth -- but the main ones seem to about whether a news network like CNBC needs to treat these questions with consistency and sobriety.