Jon Stewart vs. Jim Cramer: The fool wins

After days of fevered promotion, Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer finally met face-to-face on The Daily Show on Thursday night. Given that Cramer began apologizing within minutes of appearing on the show, the question of who won or lost is pretty much moot. What is interesting, however, is what the discussion -- and the methods that the two men employed -- says about the financial media, the news, and the role of The Daily Show in the nation's discourse.

From the beginning, it was apparent how the two men had prepared for the confrontation. In an advance clip, Stewart appeared in a cinder block-lined room, under an exposed light bulb, training for his interview. As an unseen interrogator shouted out obscure questions about finance, Stewart responded with encyclopedic answers.