Comedy Central nets 2.3 million viewers Thurs.

Jon Stewart’s stock keeps rising on the back of CNBC and Jim Cramer. Cramer’s appearance Thursday on “The Daily Show,” which came at the request of CNBC brass, yielded the second-largest aud of the year for the Comedy Central latenighter.

With an average audience of 2.3 million viewers, Thursday’s “Daily Show” ranked second only to January’s Inauguration Day episode, which delivered 2.6 million.

Overall, the installment ranks in the all-time top 10 for the show, which scored a record-high 3.6 million viewers in October when Stewart had a one-on-one via satellite with then-candidate Barack Obama.

For the week, “Daily Show” logged its second-largest aud of the year, averaging 2.1 million viewers, with several other CNBC-tweaking segments also making headlines for the show.

CNBC officials had no comment Friday regarding Stewart’s withering assault on Cramer. It was an uncharacteristically somber interview during which the comedian eviscerated the financial newsman and his channel for being unquestioning cheerleaders for corporate financial interests. In the face of Cramer’s admission that CNBC “should have done a better job” of calling out Wall Street’s recklessness, Stewart accused CNBC of committing a “sin of commission” by helping to persuade average viewers that the markets were a source of easy riches.

Although CNBC would not comment on the “Daily Show” seg, the NBC U cabler did release a statement testifying to its own journalistic stridency, seemingly in response to Stewart’s blistering criticism.

“CNBC produces more than 150 hours of live television a week that includes more than 850 interviews in service of exposing all sides of every critical financial and economic issue,” the statement read. “We are proud of our record and remain committed to delivering coverage in real time during this extraordinary story and beyond.”

Cramer largely delivered mea culpas and offered little, if any, effective defense of his show or his channel. Yet it was the financial newsie’s idea to have Cramer face off against Stewart on “Daily Show,” according to insiders at Comedy Central and CNBC.

As for Cramer’s prep, insiders say he was given a pre-interview with a “Daily Show” talent booker during which he was advised that Stewart was a “smart” interviewer.

And it was not the first time Cramer has been on a Comedy Central show produced by Stewart’s Busboy Prods. The “Mad Money” host appeared on “The Colbert Report” in October for a one-on-one that was less challenging.

After appearances earlier in the week on NBC’s “Today,” MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and the Peacock-syndicated Martha Stewart yakker, during which he built intrigue for Thursday’s confrontation, Cramer himself was low-key Friday.

In his “Stop Trading, Listen to Jim” segment on CNBC on Friday, Cramer only briefly made self-deprecating reference to his “Daily Show” appearance. He quipped that he’d mistaken a spoof of Timothy Geithner on a recent episode of “Saturday Night Live” for an actual appearance by the U.S. Treasury secretary and wondered why Geithner would “humiliate himself like someone else did and come on TV.”

After the interstitial, the news channel delivered a “reminder,” disclaiming Cramer’s opinions and advice as his own, while suggesting that viewers consult with their own financial advisers before conducting any trading activity.

Meanwhile, the other NBC U platforms seemed whisper quiet on the matter Friday, with Media Bistro’s TV Newser website reporting that MSNBC producers had been told to lay off second-day coverage.

An MSNBC spokesman disputed that report, noting that the “Daily Show” interview was addressed on “The Rachel Maddow Show” Friday evening. Maddow provided a link to the video and showed White House press secretary Robert Gibbs’ reaction.

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