It was perhaps the hardest lashing Stewart has given to a TV commentator since 2004 when he called Tucker Carlson and his then co-host Paul Begala "partisan hacks" on CNN's "Crossfire," the since canceled political commentary program.
The program opened in mock hype of the confrontation, which caught headlines through the week as each snipped at the other over the air. The show announced it as "the weeklong feud of the century."
In his opening, Stewart announced that it was "go time." He played a video clip of Cramer's Thursday guest appearance on "The Martha Stewart Show" in which Cramer beat a mound of dough, pretending it was Stewart.
Said Stewart: "Mr. Cramer, don't you destroy enough dough on your own show?"
Once Cramer came out for the interview, Stewart wondered: "How the hell did we get here?"
Cramer, his sleeves characteristically rolled up, said he was a "fan of the show."
But the humorous tone _ at least for Stewart _ changed as the interview continued.
Stewart repeatedly said Cramer wasn't his target, but aired clip after clip of the CNBC pundit.
"Roll 210!" announced Stewart, like a prosecutor. "Roll 212!"
Most were from a 2006 interview not meant for TV in which Cramer spoke openly about the duplicity of the market.
"I can't reconcile the brilliance and knowledge that you have of the intricacies of the market with the crazy ... I see you do every night," said the comedian.
Stewart said he and Cramer are both snake-oil salesman, only "The Daily Show" is labeled as such. He claimed CNBC shirked its journalistic duty by believing corporate lies, rather than being an investigative "powerful tool of illumination." And he alleged CNBC was ultimately in bed with the businesses it covered _ that regular people's stocks and 401Ks were "capitalizing on your adventure."
For his part, Cramer disagreed with Stewart on a few points, but mostly acknowledged that he could have done a better job foreseeing the economic collapse: "We all should have seen it more."
Cramer said CNBC was "fair game" to the criticism and acknowledged the network was perhaps overeager to believe the information it was fed from corporations.
"I, too, like you, want to have a successful show," said Cramer, defending his methods on "Mad Money." He later added: "Should we have been constantly pointing out the mistakes that were made? Absolutely. I truly wish we had done more."
Cramer insisted he was devoted to revealing corporate "shenanigans," to which Stewart retorted: "It's easy to get on this after the fact."
At one point, Cramer sounded the reformed sinner, responding to Stewart's plea for more levelheaded, honest commentary: "How about I try that?" said Cramer. "I'll do that."
By the end, the two-segment interview went far beyond its allotted time. Comedy Central said the on-air version would be cut by about eight minutes, though the entire interview would be available unedited on ComedyCentral.com on Friday.
Jim Cramer takes his lumps on 'The Daily Show'
NEW YORK — There were laughs, but in the larger sense there was nothing funny about CNBC stock picker Jim Cramer's widely anticipated appearance on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Thursday night.
In response to aggressive questioning by Stewart, Cramer said that he was "chastised" and wished that the financial news network had done more to expose Wall Street corruption.
CRAMER TO MARTHA: 'Is he going to kill me?'
Stewart repeatedly blasted the channel for cheerleading Wall Street in the run-up to the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. He questioned whether it was "selling snake oil as vitamin tonic" in a way that was "disingenuous at best and criminal at worse."
"Absolutely, we could do better," Cramer said. "There are shenanigans, and we should call them out. Everyone should. I should do a better job at it. I'm trying."
The interview capped a week-long series of comic jabs at CNBC, with Stewart zeroing in on Cramer's call for investors to buy and hold Bear Stearns stock in the weeks before it collapsed. Cramer, at the time, said that he had been taken out of context, and dismissed Stewart as a mere comedian who "runs a variety show."
Stewart was one of many people who challenged CNBC following a fiery Feb. 19 attack on President Obama's stimulus package by On-Air Editor Rick Santelli. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs chided Santelli, who referred to people who can't pay their mortgages as "losers."
"I think it was bad, what he said," Cramer told Stewart. "It's a terrible thing to be foreclosed on. They're not losers. They're fighters."
Stewart said that he was troubled by "the gap between what CNBC advertises itself as and what it is."
Cramer said that he tries "to make as many good (stock) calls as I can."
But Stewart confronted Cramer with clips from a 2006 interview where Cramer said that, as a hedge fund manager, he manipulated futures trades and encouraged that "because it's legal, and it's a very quick way to make money, and very satisfying."
Stewart concluded by urging CNBC to cut its ad slogan "In Cramer We Trust" and "get back to fundamentals on the reporting, and I can go back to making fart noises and funny faces."
"I think we make that deal right here," Cramer said.