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CBS News's Unstuffed Shirt
"It's got all the fun of the hedge fund without the pressure of clients screaming at me," Cramer says. "I'll never have David Geffen screaming at me while I'm on an Israeli vacation about what an idiot I am for owning Intel."
Cramer says he told CNBC to stop running ads about his best market calls. "I win some and lose some," he says of his predictions. "When I screw up, I'm going to mention it. I know I'm going to make a lot of mistakes. I said Nike looked okay, then Nike's down."
To anyone who saw him in his Wall Street days, constantly throwing tantrums as he placed multimillion-dollar stock bets, the evening show captures Cramer's crazed style, minus the obscenities. He says he gets more satisfaction from the show than spending his life "trying to make rich people richer."
Cramer admits he felt constrained on his previous CNBC program, with economist Lawrence Kudlow, because it also dealt with politics and because "I am a terrible reader of other people's stuff" off the teleprompter. "I just love talking about stocks. This is my ESPN."
To avoid conflicts, Cramer has put most of his assets in government securities and real estate, and set up a charitable trust that he uses to trade stocks. He can't trade any stock he mentions on the air for five days, and all the profits go to charity. But he thinks it's important to stay in the game.
The show has few guests, with the host mostly taking calls. One night, the phone system broke down. "I didn't get ballistic," Cramer says, as if that would be the normal response. Had that happened when he worked on Wall Street, he says, "I would have taken the keyboard and thrown it."
In the month since CNN's Headline News replaced its prime-time news updates with talk shows, Nancy Grace has pumped up both ratings and controversy. Ask Grace how she picks the stories for the legal program that bears her name and she launches into the tale of how her fiance was murdered 25 years ago, propelling her to law school, a job as a Georgia prosecutor and life as a victims' rights advocate. "Nothing has ever been the same since then," she says.
"I've been portrayed so many times as simply out for a conviction, always siding with the state, thinking everyone's guilty, I don't even listen anymore. I have never, ever pretended to be impartial, never. Frankly, I have no interest in being a robot that reads a prompter."
Grace's sympathies could not be clearer. When Robert Blake was acquitted of killing his wife, she said: "But where is the anger? Was the victim victimized again at trial? . . . In my mind it's a very dark day." When Scott Peterson was convicted of murdering his wife, she declared. "There is justice for Laci and Conner."
Grace has boosted ratings in her 8 p.m. time slot by 126 percent over last year through a steady diet of gory and sensational cases. "Nancy Grace" has covered the Peterson trial, Jackson, the Blake trial, the Atlanta courthouse shootings, the death of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, Miss Savannah 2003 being charged with murder, a gunman who killed seven people in a Milwaukee church, a Colorado man who murdered his three children after his wife got a restraining order against him, and a 16-year-old Idaho girl tried in the shooting deaths of her parents.
The New Republic, noting that Grace sometimes casts doubt on suspects who turn out to be innocent, called her the "leading practitioner" of the "legal shout-fest." Grace says she rarely raises her voice, which off camera is a more syrupy Macon drawl. "If critics believe the show is tabloid, maybe they've never been in a courtroom. The justice system is tabloid, too. It's nasty, it's mean, it's hand-to-hand combat."
Asked about her heavy diet of celebrity cases, Grace says they help educate the public. "The Jackson case to me symbolizes child molestation and the downfall of a music icon I followed growing up." As for Peterson, whom the media turned into the villain of a national television drama, "I'm grateful the American public embraced Laci and embraced the case. I wish they would embrace every other murder victim the same way. . . . We also cover cases that others don't cover -- ordinary people, not stars, not celebrities, not A-listers," she says.
Grace, who remains a Court TV anchor -- a job she assumed in 1997 after the quick demise of her show with ex-O.J. lawyer Johnnie Cochran -- insists she knows little about television. "There's really nothing I can do about what my critics say because I'm not going to change what I do," Grace says. "I am a trial lawyer. I'm not a journalist."
Footnote: Newsweek columnist Fareed Zakaria breaks into the television game Friday with a new half-hour show, "Foreign Exchange," on 100 PBS stations. He interviews Egyptian dissident Saad Eddin Ibrahim, talks to the author of a book on Europe's social-welfare states, and runs a freelancer's piece about environmental protection in Russia. "I'm hoping to avoid the 'Crossfire'-type format," Zakaria says, but "I don't want the show to have the pacing of a French movie."
Howard Kurtz hosts CNN's weekly media program.
The new approach is "just my way," says Schieffer.
James Cramer's CNBC show reflects the manic persona of the former Wall Street trader.