We Interview Maria Bartiromo on C-Span’s Book TV

This interview of Maria Bartiromo, of her new book, The Weekend That Changed Wall Street, was taped back in September. Some readers may deem it to be a bit softball, but a book TV program isn’t a format that lends itself to pointed questions. In fact, I found the experience a bit like what I have been told about S&M: even though the domme looks like the party in charge, in fact her job is to administer the precise amount of pain the submissive signals that he wants. Bartiromo is obviously very seasoned, and at certain junctures (for instance, when I tried interrupting her, another where she anticipated and cut off a follow up question) she signaled pretty clearly that she wasn’t going to go into controversial territory.

As reader Herbert B said,

I must give her credit for avoiding saying a single word that would put so much as a chip in CNBC’s rice bowl. What little she revealed, however, was worthwhile.


Picture 25

You can view the segment here.

PS I’m personally less than happy with this show, since one of my conditions for doing it was that they mention ECONNED. As you can see, that didn’t happen. They took a shot of the cover during the taping, and it was edited later, so they don’t have an excuse for this lapse.

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  1. Deus-DJ

    Um…I am thoroughly confused. They call this segment “book tv” and they don’t even mention your book? ………

    1. kingbadger

      The segment seems to be about Maria’s book, “The Weekend That Changed Wall Street” (i.e. Maria is the one being interviewed).

  2. Ted K

    I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt since Bartiromo makes my blood boil. In so many ways (none of them good). Just seeing you in the same camera shot with her would probably make me think less of your performance in some way, so I’m not even gonna look at it. The woman (although I hate to admit she was exceedingly attractive when she first joined CNBC, X number of years ago) to me really marked the time of the downfall of CNBC in my mind. Including the reports from the exchange floor. I forgot the guy they had doing it for them before, some Jewish guy with a big honker, but he was smart and he did a good job.

    They also used to have a girl either worked opposite or had the same duties as Joe Kernen (at that time) who wore glasses with big teeth and was kind of hot in a very geeky way, she used to be really great with reports and I have no idea what happened to her, I presume they sent her out to pasture after she got her first facial line, but I thought she was really great. If anyone remembers her name let me know, I’m very curious whatever happened to her. but anyway….. Bartiromo lost all respect from me when she was interviewing CEO John Thain and he was blowing two tons of crap up her skirt about the solidity of banks and she was going “Oh Really!!!” with this 14 year old school girl look on her face like the 1st string high school quarterback had glanced at her and she was about to faint. And then the thing with Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York, she asked the 44 year old Weiner if Medicare was so good why wasn’t he on it??? Apparently in all her years of “journalism” and time at CNBC (nevermind she might have discussed Medicare with any intelligent life forms in her regular daily life) no one had told her you had to be 65.

    For anyone who missed that classic “CNBC Moment” you can catch it here. Scroll down after the jump and press play button:

    1. Yves Smith Post author


      Did you even look at the segment? It seems the mere mention of Bartiromo has sent you off the deep end.

      Ahem, did it occur to you I might want to say yes to this interview so CSPAN would keep booking me? I actually wasn’t keen about doing it, but my buddies said I really ought to, if nothing else to get practice in a different format.

    2. AndyC


      I always hated how Maria deliberately positioned herself in the highest traffic area of the floor near the phones so that traders would frequently crash into while hurrying to use the phones…”Oh my gaaaawd the excitement of Wall Street!!!”

      What a load of crap

  3. Ted K

    I don’t like the woman, PERIOD. Did you see anywhere where I criticized you in the above???

    I think C-Span is generally very good and as I said the first time you were on you came across the best on C-span of all your media stuff. The format (one on one, without commercial breaks where people can express intelligent thoughts) is very suitable to you. The format is about the best you could ask for I think. You have also made it clear before you think the quality of journalism is important yes??? What am I SUPPOSED to say when I see someone like that??? I don’t know any other way to put it when something annoys the hell out of me, and she does. You should do it again, just pray with better interviewEE.

  4. Tyler

    1) Maria Bartiromo is a vile, dispicable woman

    2) the previous poster ‘Ted K’ refers to someone in his post as “some Jewish guy with a big honker”- ‘Ted’ is an anti-semitic lowlife and deserving of whatever financial misfortune he is presently experiencing.

    1. Ted K

      To “Tyler” and “jest” above,
      I suppose if I said Rachel Maddow has a huge neck you would say I am a homophobe??? Honest to God, with some of you people to sneeze in the same room a Jew is in is to be labeled an “anti-Semite”. If that gives you a thrill and makes you feel superior, have at it. But you will find the term will lose its power over time with YOUR usage of it.

  5. Dr. Pitchfork

    Nice job, Yves. I know you wanted to be more aggressive, but just asking the “aren’t you friends with these people” question was enough to get Maria’s ego in gear to prove your premise.

    …Oh, dahling,I do see these people at swanky parties and whatnot, but I MUST be able to get Jamie (or Lloyd) on the phone — at any time — so I can get some answers. (Even if it’s totally off the record and they’re totally blowing smoke up…) That’s how I deal with that whole conflict of interest thing, you see.

  6. b holmes


    I am a daily reader of naked capitalism and I appreciate your work. I’m having buffering issues so I havent seen the entire 40 minutes of the video yet. I’m hoping the following issues were addressed?

    How would she grade her employer/CNBC’s reporting on the financial sector leading up to the its collapse or near collapse in 2008?

    Seeing that CNBC is “First in Business” do they bear any responsibility for the lack of reporting or investigation in the creation of the financial crisis?

    This particular journalist seems to have had amazing access to CEO’s who were involved in the crisis did she follow up with any of the unanswered and inexplicable issues that naked capitalism has asked over and over since 2008?

    Wasnt there a controversial plane ride back from a conference with a banker a few years back from Asia Can Maria clear the air on that one?

    Maria which of the following should be in prison?

    Angelo Mozzilo

    Joseph Cassano

    Dick Fuld

    Robert Rubin

    Hank Paulson

    Why was this particular journalist so eager and vocal about her opposition to the healthcare bill earlier this year? How are we to distinguish her political views from her financial reporting?

    I’m hoping it isnt another softball interview for this financial “journalist” I’m looking forward to watching once my buffering issues are cleared.


    b holmes

    1. Glen

      Ha! Those are good questions.

      As to distinguishing political views from financial reporting – I think you have misunderstood CNBC’s role – it’s largely political pontification for large corporations mixed in with the daily drumbeat that Wall St is doing just great, and that being anti-Wall St is also anti-American (wave red, white, and blue bunting here!)

    2. wunsacon

      >> How would she grade her employer/CNBC’s reporting on the financial sector leading up to the its collapse or near collapse in 2008?


  7. Dr. Pitchfork

    Wow. Captured doesn’t begin to describe what Maria is. She said that Jeff Immelt was particularly impressive when companies like his couldn’t tap the CP market. OMG! GE was THE big company that couldnt’ tap the CP market. Immelt is the one who went crying to Paulson. The finance company known as GE is THE company that Paulson and Kashkari refer to when they say that manufacturing co’s wouldn’t make payroll. What fearmongering crap.

  8. Glen

    Wow, I’ll bet that was an interesting experience. I’ll have to admit, I was impressed with your ability to not to burst out laughing at a couple of points. I was especially impressed by Ms. Bartiromo opinion at one point that these were the “perfect people” to handle the crisis (discussing Paulson, Geithner and Bernanke’s performance), and then talk about the failure of the regulators at another point (I believe you were asking if Wall St had learned their lessons from the crisis) neglecting to realize that these were largely the EXACT SAME PEOPLE. She did seem to slip up a couple of times most notably when Ms. Bartiromo implied that the Lehman collapse was “deliberate” so as to impress Congress with the seriousness of the situation – she backed away from that one rather quick (I suppose anybody would – the implications are rather disturbing).

    Good job! I think you have all the makings of a good interviewer if you keep at it.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      One of the things you learn as a management consultant is always to look very respectful and interested as a way to get the client to say something useful.

  9. Hubert

    I gulped and I tried but could not listen to it longer than the first answer. I find Bartiromos BS simply repulsive.
    So if there was something interesting in her answers, please Yves, tell us exactly what or at least give us some time stamps of the interview so that I do not have to suffer through all of it …..

  10. LeeAnne

    Yves, you need professional PR and coaching for promoting your work and advancing your career. You owe that to yourself.

  11. Conscience of a Conservative

    That Maria did not pick up on the seriousness of the crisis until Bear went down strongly suggests that as a CNBC journalist she had no special insight into the crisis. Additionally, her discussion about off the record conversations and “the balance” that needs to be struck,how W
    Wall Street always will make money, and that directors are now more responsive to other constituents speaks to how CNBC and Maria will never get past their corporatist leanings.

    On a side note, I was surprised to hear the phrase “I think”, “You know”, not phrases I would expect to hear from a polished interviewer.

  12. fiscalliberal

    I would suggest that serious books are your niche in terms of intervoewing authors. CNBC tends to be a corporate Fox News. I have the view that Ayn Rand ideologues (Kernan and Kudlow) and PR promotion interviews are really in control at CNBC. Dylan Ratigan had to leave because he could not stand the softball interviews required by th e producers.

    Like Andrew Ross Sorkin, I suspect Maria is preserving the next access to a interview versus discussing serious policy issues. I just would not view her book as a serious contribution to the discussion. Hence not an interview you should do. I know I am out on the limb with this one, but Lewis might be more credible than Maria.

    1. traderjoe

      It’s an assault on Ayn Rand to suggest that she would ever want to be mentioned in the same breath as a centrally-planned propaganda machine like CNBC. Going further (but hopefully not too far), from what I have read of her philosophy, she would be no happier about the farce that ‘capitalism’ has now become (corporatism), and would likely decry much of what has occurred over the last two years in the name of ‘saving’ the economy – the bailouts, the Fed interventions, etc., etc.

  13. Conscience of a conservative

    A point you made, and others have also made regarding the 1950’s and 1960’s being a high growth period coupled with high taxes, seems to suggest high taxes promotes growth and investment, of if not that view, then the view that taxes do not hurt growth.
    My take is that you and others are not looking at the big picture. The two decades followed a period of time in which Europe and Japan had no economic base and was rebuilding. The United States could sell infrastrucure and support with no competition to speak of. Secondly this was the era of the baby boomers and the huge population of children coming of age, was a powerful prescription for burgeoning domestic consumer demand.

  14. Alex

    I’m personally less than happy with this show, since one of my conditions for doing it was that they mention ECONNED. As you can see, that didn’t happen. They took a shot of the cover during the taping, and it was edited later, so they don’t have an excuse for this lapse.

    Strictly speaking, they do mention it in the banner running along the bottom, at approximately 3 minutes 40 seconds. But it is pretty weak plug.

  15. Conscience of a conservative

    I suspect that Ms. Bartiromo was none too thrilled by the interview either. She was put in the position of defending free market capitalism more than discussing her book. While I do agree that you (Yves) had valid points to make, I’m a little undecided if this was the proper venue.

  16. LJR


    I don’t think you should demean yourself in this manner. You know I’m a big fan of yours and it’s painful to see you at the same table with the likes of Maria. I find her as repulsive as Paris Hilton. You obviously couldn’t take her to task as she so richly deserves and the whole episode comes off as contrived. The contrast between your strained sincerity and her glib, simpleminded offhandedness makes for difficult viewing.

    I don’t think you were given good advice by your friends. I’d love to see you interview Nick Taleb or Chris Whalen but please spare me the botoxed bimbos. It’s a waste of time.

    Perhaps the guide should be that you simply don’t interview people you don’t respect.

    I think you were played. You wanted to get a plug for your book and that was the carrot. Then they screwed you out of your reward. If I were you I’d be furious.

    1. William C

      On the other hand it may build Yves’s credibility as an interviewer which could lead on to other opportunities. I think it is one of those situations where only time will tell.

    1. Sundog

      LOL yep, quite the well-fed squirrel seems to me.

      What an odd pairing. For those of us far from the fray it offers quite the opportunity in Kremlinology.

      Yves didn’t bust out laughing. Gotta admire that.

      YS, I wish you’d agreed to this and at the very last moment turned up with a sudden case of laryngitis and just happened to have Bill Black with you, won’t he do? That would’ve been well worth a look.

      For putting up with this, you deserve a session with, say, Gillian Tett or Alyssa Katz. Though what I really want at this point is an unmoderated session with you, Ritholtz and Whalen on RMBS & associated issues.

      It’s odd that the econ-finance blogosphere hasn’t come up with some means of holding ad hoc realtime conversations, in public spaces with the potential for audience questions. Or is there a US analog to the LSE that I’m not aware of?

  17. Richard Estes

    I interview people frequently on a small, community oriented radio station located at UC Davis. One of my favorite methods is what I call the pose of conscious naivete, putting on a pretense that I really don’t understand and could you please clarify, because, from what little I know, it looks sorta bad . . .

    Flattering the guest, looking a little confused, please help!

    If you don’t already do that, I recommend it. You’d be surprised at the answers you get. Once they pick up the cue that you’re not playing gotcha! with them, they will say the most amazing things and sometimes hang themselves.

    But you have to let it go, and trust that the audience gets it, because you can’t turn around and nail them afterwards.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Yves let Maria hang herself quite well I think. Andy C’s quote from Bill Bonner, “a squirrel watching a bank robbery” is perfect for this interview and her role on CNBS. It had to be tough for Yves, who nevertheless maintained professional aplomb throughout. A typically painful excerpt:

      Yves: “…A lot of people were slow to see the credit crisis coming…When was there either a news event or a series of events that led you to wake up and realize that, gee, we might have a serious mess on our hands here?”

      Maria: “…It wasn’t until Bear Stearns was sold…that I started to realize that this was bigger than I thought … that was when I realized something is seriously wrong, and this is different and a lot worse than I thought…”

      Maria on the media response: “…It don’t think that the media was slow…we sort of had hints that something was going awry, but that we didn’t…see as severe a collapse…I think that the media did a very good job in covering this crisis…” (Likewise for all the great men of finance who saved humanity.)

      Her analogy for bankster bailouts: “…I do believe we needed some kind of intervention by government … you know when you have poverty and someone who’s starving, and they say I can’t work and I’m hungry and I need food, do we just say to them ‘no, I’m sorry you’re on your own…you’ll have to starve right now’? No.”

      Maria comes off as a star-struck cheerleader for Wall Street here—as she does at CNBS. I hope she has plenty of nuts stored up for winter; I don’t think she sold many books.

  18. Pat McClung

    After watching this interview, I find it remarkable that someone with such a vast empty area inside the brain as Maria Bartiromo was able to speak at all. But I reflected that I could have taught a computer to repeat everything she said in a few hours. Same way she learned.

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