If David Letterman's extended fracas with John McCain taught us anything, it's that would-be opinion leaders will pay for canceling on TV hosts. On tonight's Daily Show, Rick Santelli and his network paid dearly.
The Daily Show wasn't going to let that happen; it's entire seven-minute opening block was devoted to an extended, heroic evisceration of the financial network, starting with its many false, optimistic predictions before and during the economic meltdown and continuing through to its softball CEO interviews and general Wall Street cheerleading. (We edited the takedown into the two-minute clip above.)
Stewart surely would have made Santelli squirm through some of the devastating material had the TV reporter come on the Daily Show, just as he does when Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly visits. But Stewart would have been genial (he is with O'Reilly), there would have been less time for his clips and, most important, Santelli would be there to defend himself.
Maybe CNBC's flacks have figured that out by now and are planning to reverse their decision. It's not like a stonewall will keep Stewart from slamming the network amy more than the passage of time stopped Letterman from harping on McCain. But we're totally OK with the network remaining silent; we could watch this sort of CNBC-bashing for years.