My jaw was just agape. Today, the most contentious interview took place that you'll see on cable all year when CNBC's Maria Bartiromo interviewed former New York governor and attorney general Eliot Spitzer, and she simply regurgitated stuff fed to her by Hank Greenberg's PR machine and Spitzer's GOP predecessor, Dennis Vacco, who was a bitter opponent in a losing campaign against him. It is Vacco who is now acting on behalf of Greenberg in an obvious effort to discredit Spitzer.
I've long suspected Bartiromo to be nothing more than a tool for the corrupt Wall Street apparatus (and the GOP establishment, but that's another subject). Once you watch this interview, after the fold, you'll see what I mean. Maria repeatedly interrupted and attacked Spitzer as having a supposed personal vendetta against Greenberg, in essense defending the man who was fired by his own board at AIG, which paid a $1.6 billion fine in response to his role as co-conspirator in transactions that, as Spitzer put it, led to fraud.
Here's the video. The juicy part starts just before the 4:00 minute mark...
After the heated interview concluded, Bartiromo had an attorney representing Hank Greenberg on the air to respond. She treated him with deference, asked him no tough questions, and let him say his thing uninterrupted and unchallenged. Hmm, I wonder why Bartiromo, a non-journalist journalist in my opinion, and wife of the president of Wall Street firm WisdomTree, took sides on this issue. She seems to think that the dropping of six of eight charges against Greenberg totally exonerates him, while Spitzer just has a personal hatred or vendetta toward the man.
I could never understand it if I never had heard of Bartiromo or watched her program's interviews before. She is relentlessly defending the Wall Street elite, the status quo, uses GOP frames on every political issue, and treats Democratic guests rudely and derisively. However, today's spat with Spitzer amounts to what I think is a new low for Maria. She just comes off as a total shill for the disgraced former AIG head Greenberg and, as Spitzer notes, it was Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway who came to Spitzer with the allegations of AIG's dirty deals. Spitzer showed the 29 page federal court document during the interview, and kept trying to get Maria to understand the facts. At one point, exasperated, Spitzer asks Maria if she's read the document. She paused, grinned, and said nothing. He repeats the question, and THEN she claimed she had read it and more than she had cared to read about this case. I think she was lying, the way Sarah Palin fudged her answer to Katie Couric's question about what she read.
The sad fact is that CNBC, unlike current and former public servants like Spitzer, are defenders of the power elite, and won't hold them to account. Bartiromo, to me, is the personalization of the term, "corporate media". She is simply arrogant and appalling.
At least Spitzer took her to school in this interview, IMO, and will do so further if Maria ever takes up his offer to be HIS guest in an upcoming interview on his Current TV show. Somehow, I doubt she will have the guts to make that appearance.
UPDATE: For those of you with iPads who can't see the above embedded video, here is the video link.
Also, BusinessInsider.com had a similar blog post of this smackdown, which you can read here. The comments were largely with us on this one, and almost everyone sees how Maria acted as a tool for the Greenberg PR machine. She's a journalistic travesty, and almost everyone sees that.
Finally, it should be noted that this video wasn't obviously political in nature, but it really was. Bartiromo failed to point out that Vacco, the former AG who has come out to accuse Spitzer of a personal tirade and possible vendetta against Greenberg, may be trying to settle his own score against Spitzer. He lost re-election to Spitzer as AG many years ago in a bitterly fought contest. Now, when it's convenient for him (and possibly at the behest of the Greenberg camp), he comes forward. Of course, Maria sides with the former GOP AG, and attacks the Dem, without disclosing these facts.
UPDATE 2: Well, Maria really stepped into it this time. She "continued the conversation", as Eliot puts it, on her show today. And Spitzer responds...