The smackdown between CNBC and Jon Stewart started when CNBC's Rick Santelli abruptly backed out of a scheduled Daily Show appearance, but it was the financial network's idea to keep it going. After watching Stewart flay CNBC for the second night in a row on Monday—and offer an open invitation to "Jim Cramer, Maria Bartiromo, anyone from the cast of Five Bald Guys Who Make Noise About Money, [or] CNBC's famed Money Monkey"—network executives called The Daily Show and offered up Cramer to defend his, and the network's, relevance and integrity.
Though most observers assumed that last week's decision to pull Santelli from the show was made by timid CNBC execs after his "tea party" rant ran into some blowback from White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, a knowledgable party claims it was Santelli himself who got cold feet and pulled out.
The appearance will likely be ratings gold for The Daily Show, given the attention the contretemps has received, though it's unclear what the upside is for Cramer and CNBC—Cramer hasn't exactly done a bang-up job of defending himself in the friendly confines of the Today Show and MSNBC's Morning Joe. Perhaps the network hopes to put a cap on the "CNBC was wrong" meme and stop mischievous tape archivists from pulling embarrassing clips of CNBC's pre-bust days. Not likely.