Media Moves

Citigroup uses Bartiromo to divert attention to real problems

February 25, 2007

TheDeal.com executive editor Yvette Kantrow wrote that recent coverage of the ouster of Citigroup executive Todd Thomson has disputed many of the allegations about his extravagances, including his relationship with CNBC anchior Maria Bartiromo.

CitigroupKantrow’s conclusion is that the business media was played by Citigroup to turn the focus away from its actual issues.

She wrote, “Thomson in recent days has scored a trifecta of positive — and strikingly similar — news reports that paint him not as the overspending philanderer but as the largely innocent target of a smear campaign engineered by nefarious Charles Prince, Citi’s embattled CEO.

“The story line goes like this: Feeling threatened by Thomson and hoping to divert attention from his own lackluster performance, Prince fired Thomson, then leaked to the media details of the former exec’s profligate spending on everything from office fireplaces to flights for the Money Honey. Thus, Mariagate was born.”

Later, she concluded, “Citi’s top dogs were on to something if they did leak Mariagate to divert attention from their larger woes. As one money manager told BusinessWeek, Thomson ‘was a beautiful scapegoat’ for the company’s problems, shifting the conversation from earnings to fish tanks and sex. But for Citi, the Mariagate media bubble couldn’t last. In fact, it grew so large, so fast, that it was only a matter of time before it popped. Eventually you knew the media would attempt to out those who helped to inflate it.”

Read more here.

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