OLD Media Moves

More on Bartiromo and the banker

January 24, 2007

More coverage emerged Wednesday over the ouster of Citigroup banker Todd Thomson due to his inability to control costs, including kicking other Citi executives off a flight from China so that CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo could use the plane.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting Wednesday that some Citi executives advised Thomson that he needed to limit his contact with Bartiromo. It also reported that Thomson “had used more than $5 million from his division’s marketing budget to sponsor a new television program for the Sundance Channel, people familiar with the matter say. The program’s hosts were slated to include CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo and actor Robert Redford.”

The New York Post, meanwhile, noted that the flight cost about $50,000.

Maria BartiromoStaff writer Roddy Boyd wrote, “Based on prevailing operating rates for a swanky Gulfstream executive class jet, Citi largely underwrote the ritzy flight of the high-profile ‘Money Honey’ to the tune of between $2,300 and $4,000 per hour.

“Assuming a $3,000 per hour average cost for the 16-hour flight to New York, Citi shelled out $48,000, not including the commercial airfare for the three execs Thomson bumped in order to fly alone with Bartiromo.

“A CNBC spokesman said that Bartiromo only paid ‘prevailing commercial rates’ for her seat, approximately $3,000 to $4,000.”

Later, Boyd reported, “Even before the controversial flight, Bartiromo and Thomson often appeared together on panels at financial conferences and have been quoted in articles about each other several times.

“In a recent Success magazine cover profile, Thomson gushed that Bartiromo – who sits on a council with him at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School – ‘truly understands business and brings clarity and authenticity to the table.'”

Read more here. This coverage makes business journalists look like they’ll accept favors from sources. A CNBC spokesman said Bartiromo used the flight for “source development,” but it seems she could have gotten time with Thomson other ways because of their ongoing relationship.

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