CEOs are steering clear of Fox News' Maria Bartiromo and denying her interviews, sources say

  • Some CEOs are denying interviews to Maria Bartiromo as she gets ready to try out on Fox News' opinion line-up.
  • Sources say Bartiromo's non-critical Trump interview and controversial political statements make her too risky to be associated with.
  • Fox News refuted the claims, sharing a list of Bartiromo's sit-downs with the Goya CEO and healthcare bosses.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Maria Bartiromo is getting rebuffed by some in Corporate America as she prepares for an upcoming stint as a Fox News opinion anchor, according to seven people who work in major financial institutions and financial communications executives.

Bartiromo, who anchors "Mornings with Maria," on Fox Business, among other shows, is about to get a try-out on a new opinion hour on Fox News at 7 p.m. The new show is said to focus on economics and policy, according to an insider.

Bartiromo and her team have been making calls to sources to help book guests on the show, but several of these business executives say there is too much risk involved in appearing on air with her. Former Wall Street executives who used to be a layup for her have turned her down, they say.

"She's having trouble getting CEOs," said one person familiar with the situation. 

Read more: Insiders at Fox News wonder what's next as they try to acknowledge Biden's victory without turning away Trump voters

A second high-level financial executive said while Fox colleagues Neil Cavuto and Liz Claman were perceived positively, the firm doesn't recommend chief executives do Bartiromo's show.

"Everything she does fuses into politics. She's become unmoored," said one financial industry executive. 

A second financial communications executive had recommended a conservative-leaning client appear on Bartiromo's show "Mornings with Maria," but the client declined, citing the political overhang. 

"She's really pro-Trump and her show became a political show, not a business show," this person said, adding that it was tricky for business executives to be sandwiched between politicians because the subject matter and questions could become unpredictable.

Fox News denied Bartiromo was having trouble lining up interviews, noting the show will mirror "Sunday Morning Futures," which features policy makers, not CEOs.

Bartiromo's debut as a lead-in to Tucker Carlson comes as the Biden Administration takes charge, leaving Fox News looking for a new direction. The news network moved Martha MacCallum's straight news show out of the slot after Newsmax's Greg Kelly started to generate a rival audience. McCallum now covers news in the afternoons. 

Fox News appears to want to keep pro-Trump viewers hooked in the evenings with coverage of big tech restrictions, media bias, and immigration taking center stage as topics alongside COVID coverage. 

Read more: Trump administration staffers are getting snubbed while hunting for jobs. One recruiter tried to place 6 of them and couldn't land any interviews.

To be sure, Bartiromo's long tenure covering business — she was the first person to report from the New York Stock Exchange live — means she is still a destination for some chiefs.

Fox News provided a list of CEOs who have appeared in the last two months, including Goya chief executive Robert Unanue, who has spoken up for President Trump; and healthcare chief executives such as Moderna's Stephane Bancel and Eli Lilly's David Ricks, to name a few.

"Maria Bartiromo's signature programs are destinations for leading economic and political newsmakers, routinely breaking real-time news for viewers and earning both 'Mornings with Maria' and 'Sunday Morning Futures' their highest viewership ever in 2020," a Fox spokesperson said.

Bartiromo hasn't replied to a request for comment.

While some others might have been willing to talk to the veteran anchor in the past, a financial communications executive said the Black Lives Matter protests and riots in the summer have made Bartiromo a no-go since September. In some cases, financial communications executives are recommending against appearing; in other cases, they say clients are deciding for themselves.  

The anchor has been widely criticized for not pushing back hard enough on President Trump's claims of unsubstantiated election fraud claims. 

Multiple business sources say that Bartiromo's softball Trump interviews, coupled with the upcoming proxy season, make her a risky bet. That's a time when shareholders get to question corporations on their policies. Shareholders and activists may question such things as diversity and inclusion programs, topics related to the environment, social responsibility and governance. Saying the wrong thing in an interview can spark an employee or shareholder backlash, or a lashing on social media.  

Read more: Fox News receives lawsuit threat from Dominion

"You get negative feedback from all the Trump haters or employees saying, 'Why the f— are we on that show?' For limited upside, why would you take the flack for doing it?'' said one senior executive at a big financial institution.

Bartiromo has touched the third rail for corporate financial executives multiple times, said one financial comms executive, pointing to an instance earlier this month when Bartiromo suggested on air that Antifa was partly responsible for the riots at the Capitol. 

One senior level executive at a big financial services institution said: "I would not voluntarily put my CEO on there." 

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