CNBC HOST Jim Cramer is back in the news. For most TV personalities, that would be a good thing. But since it's Cramer we're talking about, PR can get a little dicey. Especially at such a critical time for his employer.
As you may have heard, the legendarily excitable Cramer has been telling viewers, on NBC's "Today" and elsewhere, to bail out of stocks and grab any cash they'll need over the next five years. Some critics are now accusing the former money manager of helping to spur a selling panic amid one of the worst financial crises the country has ever seen.
"How about this?" Cramer proposed when we discussed his controversial role in the crisis last week. "How about I said, 'Yeah, I did it.'? You know what kind of hubris that is?" On the word "hubris," his voice suddenly rose to a near-whistle, the way it often does when dispatching callers on his dizzying, buzzer-laden, stock-picking extravaganza "Mad Money."
"I'm not Warren Buffett!" he added.
That last part is indisputably true. Yet Cramer is now the standard-bearer of a network that, because of the Wall Street meltdown, is back in the spotlight once again.
It's been nearly a decade since CNBC's glory years, back in the heady era of day traders and the Internet boom. Now ratings are soaring as nervous investors mop up any info they can get about the market malaise.
Network executives say they're on track for a second straight year of record profits. This despite early reports that heavy advertisers such as credit-card and mortgage companies are pulling back on spending as quickly as they can. But the brass insists that the panic of '08 will be a good thing for the NBC Universal-owned network, which aims to deliver business news to affluent investors.