Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Would they do this to a man?

Posted by Charles II on February 12, 2007

Let’s start from the end and work toward the beginning, which is one way to make sense of The New York Times’s upside-down coverage. Can you imagine any television journalist today being described by The New York Times’s Landon Thomas, Jr. as follows?

Typically, Ms Bartiromo’s interviewing style can be probing, aggressive and….she can make even some of her best sources sweat a bit on camera. In an interview with Robert L. Nardelli, the recently ousted chief executive of Home Depot, she peppered him with sharp questions relating to his conduct and governance at the company. And a question posed to President Bush about his use of Google elicited a revealing response from the president as he referred to the search engine as “the Google.” “She is not a marshmallow,” said Gerard R. Roche, the chairman of the executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, who has been interviewed by Ms. Bartiromo. John J. Mack, the chief executive of Morgan Stanley, agreed, recalling an interview he had with her. “She put me on the spot big time,” he said….“She is a professional,” Mr. Mack said. “You can’t assume that you will go on air and that it will be a cakewalk.”

She asks tough questions! On air!  Live!  She is a real journalist!

Perhaps that’s why The New York Times has chosen to feature her in yet another Gerthian scandalorama, in which the reader hunts to find the scandal hidden among crumbs of SEX! and MONEY! For example:

Like many of the judges [at a car show], Ms. Bartiromo chose the bright red Ferrari Spider, according to one attendee. So did Mr. Thomson, a car enthusiast. “It’s the ultimate package of sex and performance,” he told a reporter for the magazine.

Let’s take that Editor Utwater for re-write: 

Many of the judges at the show chose the red Ferrari Spider. Mr. Thomson, who was one of them, told a reporter that “It’s the ultimate package of sex and performance.”  According to one attendee, Ms. Bartiromo also favored the Spider.

The basic story is that Bartiromo accepted a ride on a corporate jet from Todd Thomson at Citi, who turned out to be on his way out the door in part because he was misusing the corporate jet. (Aside: if he had been hitting his numbers, he could have sodomized a goat on Wall Street for all that Citi would care). Another CNBC anchor had some inside dope on his imminent departure, and Bartiromo didn’t want the story aired. Why? Well, read this:

[CNBC anchor Charles Gasparino] explained..to Jonathan Wald, head of news programming, that he had been told by people within Citigroup that top management had examined Mr. Thomson’s conduct, specifically the occasions that Ms. Bartiromo joined him on the company jet. Mr. Wald told Mr. Gasparino to pursue the story, these people say. When Ms. Bartiromo got wind of Mr. Gasparino’s reporting, she told Mr. Wald, complaining that her name was being dragged into the matter, these people say. Mr. Wald said that reporting the story was Mr. Gasparino’s job. Nevertheless, Mr. Gasparino never reported on Mr. Thomson’s threatened job status. He was urged to proceed cautiously with the story, but some within the network say Ms. Bartiromo’s role in the story prevented it from being fully reported. Mr. Wald adamantly disagrees with that interpretation. “We were clear from the beginning about reporting the story to the fullest. We did not air it because it was not adequately sourced. It didn’t meet our criteria from a journalist’s standpoint, and it clearly wouldn’t have met our lawyers’ criteria.”

And why might lawyers be involved? Because if your sensationalistic, poorly-sourced reporting ends up costing a top executive his job, he would have very good grounds to sue you for sums that CNBC does not in this or any other world earn. Not to mention what a humiliated Bartiromo could do.

As for Bartiromo, the innuendo about her making out with the Citi guy may or may not be true. If so, it would not exactly be the first time that a journalist (cough::AndreaMitchell::cough::HowardKurtz::cough:: ::hackJudithMillercough::) got entangled with his/her sources or their co-workers in a manner that compromised their journalism. But basically, if Thomson misused corporate jets, one doesn’t need to know why. It might be relevant to whether Bartiromo’s marriage to Joshua Steinberg survives or whether readers of The New York Times view her as a crimson-rouged harlot, but the one thing it won’t change is this:

She is a real journalist, one of the very few on television. 

That, I think is why her peers seem to hate her enough to pull a Gerth on her.

You tell me. Would they do this to a man? 

2 Responses to “Would they do this to a man?”

  1. You forgot (cough::JudithMiller::cough). But yes, dinging a reporter for having sex with a source is like dinging a reporter for breathing. Or like Hitler accusing Churchill of war crimes.

    As for the claims of bias, I don’t see any real basis for them, either.

  2. Charles said

    I actually did remember JudyJudyJudy, but she runs off-screen amid the coughing, a matter that I will seek to repair. But she’s a prime example of someone who purportedly slept with the boss, and that relationship allowed her to become Miss Run Amok.

    Professional standards do require that journalists not get too close to their sources. If Maria Bartiromo was having a fling with Thomson, it’s not good. But the ethical fence is built to ensure that the crime– twisting one’s journalism– is not committed. And once one trespasses across the fence, readers are entitled to be skeptical about the reporter’s treatment of that source.

    Maria Bartiromo’s sense of humor about it all tells me that this story will become fishwrapping very soon.

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