The Untold Truth Of Maria Bartiromo – Nicki Swift
Maria Bartiromo is known to viewers of Fox Business Network for hosting her weekday show Mornings with Maria, which her network bio points out is the “number one pre-market business news program in cable.” After graduating from New York University, she began her career at CNN, working as an assignment editor and then producer. After five years with CNN, in 1993, she left for a job at financial news cable net CNBC, where, in 1995, she made history as “the first journalist to report live from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on a daily basis.”
In 2014, she joined Fox Business, a move that brought about an apparent political shift; as a 2020 story in the Los Angeles Times detailed, the woman who, a decade earlier, had been named one of the Financial Times‘ “50 Faces That Shaped the Decade” was now being excoriated by fellow journalists as a propagandist for the Trump administration. Journalist Aaron Rupar went so far as to tweet that she was “basically a North Korean news anchor now.”
To find out more about the journey of this once-respected and now controversial anchor, read on to learn the untold truth of Maria Bartiromo.
The reason she quit her dream job at CNN
In 1988, Maria Bartiromo landed her dream job as an assignment editor at CNN. She spent the next five years there, noted a profile in Parade, and loved it. During that time, she told Business Insider, “I didn’t have any interest in going on the air. I didn’t even want to go on the air.” Ironically, a promotion to producer took her out of the field and parked her behind a desk, a move that ultimately propelled her to move to the other side of the camera. “I knew I needed to make a change,” she admitted.
That change came in 1993 when she was hired by CNBC as an on-air personality at the financial news cable network. When she made the decision, she told Parade, colleague Lou Dobbs warned her that leaving CNN “would be the greatest mistake I ever made.”
Dobbs was way off. As The New York Times reported, Bartiromo’s career exploded during her years at CNBC, earning her the nickname “the Money Honey” and leading her to host the network’s popular series Squawk Box. As CNBC exec Bruno Cohen told the outlet, Bartiromo had “crossed over and become a bit of a pop culture celebrity.”
She once gave safety tips to commuters in Grand Central Station
While at CNBC, Maria Bartiromo lent her voice to New York City’s famed Grand Central Station. As The New York Times reported, she recorded a series of safety messages for passengers, which repeated at 15-minute intervals for close to a month back in 2008.
According to the Times, opinions about her public-safety missives were divided. “Her voice resonates so nicely,” remarked Connecticut commuter Dr. David Berman, although he admitted he couldn’t remember the content of her message, other than it was “something to do with not leaving packages behind?” Other commuters, however, were not as enamored. “It was really loud — kind of jarring,” noted one person interviewed by the Times, while another found Bartiromo’s message to be “disconcerting… almost like subliminal advertising for her.”
Occasionally some of those commuters just happened to be Bartiromo’s friends. When passing through the station and hearing her dulcet tones, they’d fire off an email to let her know they had just heard her voice. She told the Times she would respond by saying, “You can’t get away from me.”
Questions emerged about her cozy relationship with a huge financial entity
In 2007, Maria Bartiromo was at the peak of her “Money Honey” fame when she became embroiled in controversy. That February, The New York Times reported about questions that arose after Bartiromo accompanied Todd S. Thomson — who was at the time the chief executive of Citigroup’s wealth management division — on a lavish trip to Napa “to road test some of the hottest luxury cars on the market.” She had also, it was revealed, flown with Thomson to China on Citigroup’s corporate jet, where they attended various “bank-sponsored functions.”
Intriguingly, mere weeks before the Times piece was published, Forbes reported Thomson had been terminated by Citigroup chairman Charles Prince due to “excessive spending” — or at least that was the official explanation. The Financial Times offered another, reporting that the firing occurred because Prince “had been concerned about the way Mr. Thomson had managed his friendship” with Bartiromo.
Despite the implications of impropriety, Bartiromo batted away rumors. “Something happened between Todd Thomson and Chuck Prince, and somehow I got wrapped up in it,” Bartiromo told The New York Times later that year. “Clearly, there was another agenda going on.”
An alleged affair with a financial heavyweight stirred up controversy
As gossip swirled about an affair between Maria Bartiromo and ousted Citigroup exec, Todd Thomson, he was asked to address that rumor by Reuters. He balked, insisting it was “an inappropriate question. I’ve never been accused of having anything other than an appropriate relationship with Maria Bartiromo. And I do have an appropriate relationship with Maria Bartiromo.”
With the rumors denied, the controversy eventually died down… for a while. In 2013, Page Six reported that Thomson and his wife of 25 years, Melissa, were going through a “bitter divorce.” During the course of their conscious uncoupling, Thomson’s future ex-wife’s divorce filing contained some allegations that can best be termed awkward, in that she wanted permission to depose Bartiromo — who herself was married, to financier Jonathan Steinberg.
A Connecticut court granted that request, agreeing that “certain facts which are in issue, or which directly assist in proving the Plaintiff’s [Melissa’s] case, are within the knowledge or power of [Bartiromo].” The gambit apparently worked; the divorce was settled before Bartiromo was required to sit for a deposition. As of January 2021, Bartiromo and Steinberg are still married.
She made headlines by leaving CNBC for Fox Business
By the early 2010s, Maria Bartiromo was at the top of her game. However, there was a new player on the field, Fox Business News. As the Daily News reported in 2012, this rival financial news network had been sucking ratings from CNBC, with network execs “freaking out” as viewership plummeted. In 2013, Bartiromo announced she was leaving her TV home of 20 years for a new gig at Fox Business.
As The New York Times reported, CNBC issued a statement addressing its star anchor’s departure. “After 20 years of groundbreaking work at CNBC, Maria Bartiromo will be leaving the company as her contract expires on November 24th. Her contributions to CNBC are too numerous to list but we thank her for all of her hard work over the years and wish her the best.”
While ratings were down, the Times pointed out that CNBC was still attracting more than three times as many viewers as Fox Business in the key demographics. That changed after Bartiromo’s arrival; by 2018, reported Forbes, she was regularly beating her old CNBC show, Squawk Box, and in October 2020, Mornings with Maria marked “its highest-rated month ever in total viewers” (via Fox Business).
She shared the simple secret behind her TV success
There’s no denying that Maria Bartiromo has experienced some massive success through her career as a television anchor. That success, Bartiromo revealed in an interview with Dujour, did not just happen to occur randomly.
“One of my secrets to success is simple: I work really hard. I know there are no shortcuts, and I’ve carried out my career in that way,” she said, detailing the philosophy behind a tireless work ethic that has contributed to her decades-long media career. “There are a lot of people who can get in front of a camera and be articulate. But you really need to know your stuff. And you need to own it… so that nobody can push you around.”
She elaborated on her success, fittingly enough, for Success. “Success is knowing yourself — an inner comfort and inner contentment,” she declared. Asked if she possessed those particular attributes, she offered a definitive answer: “I do,” she said.
Her post-election interview with Trump was met with serious backlash
The US presidential election of 2020 was a contentious one. Once the dust settled, reported the Los Angeles Times, all the US television networks had called it: former Vice President Joe Biden would be the next president of the United States.
Despite losing both the popular vote and the Electoral College, President Donald Trump asserted that the election was “rigged,” claiming he won in a landslide, but the election was somehow “a fraud.” Once the mainstream media had declared Biden the victor, Trump was interviewed on Maria Bartiromo’s Fox Business show, for an appearance that immediately became infamous for her softball questions and refusal to demand Trump prove any of his demonstrable untrue claims. That interview, reported CNN, was simply “filled with lies.”
As USA Today noted, Bartiromo was “slammed” by fellow journalists, hit with backlash for essentially providing a platform for the president’s baseless gaslighting. “Let’s be clear,” CNN’s Amanda Carpenter tweeted. “Maria Bartiromo is not interviewing the President [right now]. She is providing him a free platform to feed his base talking points uncontested… This is propaganda.”
She made a far-right pivot that confused the media
Once she was ensconced in Fox Business, the financial sister channel to conservative-leaning Fox News, Maria Bartiromo quickly assimilated into her new surroundings. As she settled in, Baritromo came to become one of the leading TV cheerleaders for President Donald Trump.
Her former colleagues from CNBC were pretty much baffled by the puzzling 180-degree turn from apolitical financial journalist to right-wing shill. “There is a lot of eye-rolling,” Ted David, her one-time CNBC colleague, told the Los Angeles Times. “Maria was always considered to be a principled professional. She’s losing a lot of respect from her fellow journalists.”
This hit a whole other level when Bartiromo began propagating demonstrably false claims that Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election because of election fraud, presenting zero evidence to back up those claims. Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, Bartiromo addressed allegations she had abandoned her journalistic ethics. “I’ve certainly broadened my portfolio in terms of who I’m speaking to and what I’m covering,” she said. “Have I become more conservative? No. I’ve always been pretty straight down the middle in terms of my personal beliefs.”
She got 'punk'd' by an animal rights activist on her own show
One of the more bizarre moments in Maria Baritromo’s career came in December 2020 when she welcomed guest Dennis Organ, CEO of Smithfield Foods — or at least that’s who she thought she was speaking with. Somebody in her production team apparently fell flat on fact-checking, resulting in a six-minute conversation about COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in meat-processing plants, not with Smithfield’s CEO but with animal rights activist Matt Johnson, impersonating the exec.
Later in the show, Bartiromo told viewers she needed to make “an important correction,” declaring, “It appears we have been punk’d.” Bartiromo continued, revealing she’d “since learned that that was not Dennis Organ, but an imposter making false claims about the company.” She also promised her audience, “We will, of course, be more vigilant.”
Speaking with The Wrap, Johnson explained he was able to get himself booked on the show as a phony guest by using a scheme that “involved fake email addresses and fake phone numbers and lots of pitches.” Johnson also admitted he didn’t have “too guilty of a conscience for pulling one over on Maria Bartiromo’s show,” given how much “misinformation” the show disseminated.
She was forced to run a news segment debunking the fake claims of election fraud
In the weeks after the 2020 presidential election, viewers of Maria Bartiromo’s Fox Business Network show watched her regularly discuss a company called Dominion Voting Systems. She and her guests claimed Dominion’s software was set up to switch votes for Donald Trump to Joe Biden, effectively rigging the election.
Those claims, of course, were demonstrably false (dubbed a “crazy” conspiracy theory by Intelligencer), and resulted in Dominion’s lawyers sending a letter to the network and its hosts (via Business Insider), addressing “patently false accusations” and a “smear campaign against the company.” The letter insisted the hosts “cease and desist making defamatory claims against Dominion,” and warned that “litigation regarding these issues is imminent.” A similar letter, from another voting machine company, Smartmatic, led Bartiromo and other Fox News and Fox Business hosts to air a pre-taped segment debunking the various claims of election fraud they’d been making on their shows.
Bartiromo’s viewers, reported Salon, were not happy to see her introduce a segment that essentially called BS on her own claims. “@FoxNews needs to be ashamed for making her air this tripe,” read one angry viewer’s tweet, while another declared the segment to be “a joke.”
Broadcast news has made Maria Bartiromo incredibly wealthy
Broadcast journalism has been very good to Maria Bartiromo — and that also applies to her bank account. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the Fox Business anchor has socked away an estimated $50 million.
According to The Street, Bartiromo is one of television’s 10 highest-paid news anchors, with an annual salary of $10 million. In addition to her Fox Business salary, Bartiromo has some other revenue streams funneling cash into her account. One of these is her sideline as a writer, author of several books, including Use The News: How To Separate the Noise from the Investment Nuggets and Make Money in Any Economy, The 10 Laws of Enduring Success, and The Cost: Trump, China, and American Revival, published in 2020.
Another side gig has been playing herself in movies. According to IMDb, Bartiromo has appeared in 2009’s The Taking of Pelham 123, 2010’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, and 2012’s Arbitrage, playing herself as she interviews a hedge fund magnate portrayed by Richard Gere.
A punk rock icon was enamored by Maria Bartiromo
Maria Bartiromo has legions of fans, but one of them turned out to be both unexpected and enthusiastic: Joey Ramone, late frontman for punk pioneers The Ramones. The rocker, she told Parade, “was an avid, avid investor, and he used to call me to chat about the market. One day he said he’d written a song and sent me a recording.” That song, “Maria Bartiromo,” wound up on his 2002 album Don’t Worry About Me, released the year after his death.
She discussed her relationship with the late punk icon in an interview with The Guardian, revealing she began receiving emails from him asking advice about investing in specific companies. “I thought who is this person emailing me? It’s crazy, he’s calling himself Joey Ramone,” she recalled, assuming the emailer was using a fake name. “Sure enough it was him and we developed this friendship. And he was attuned to the markets,” she added. “He really understood his own investment portfolio. Joey Ramone was a fantastic investor.”
Bartiromo honored the singer in 2018 when she issued a tweet revealing she’d purchased his original handwritten lyrics for “Maria Bartiromo” at an auction, writing, “so cool.”
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