CON GAMES—I didn’t know diddly about Erin Burnett, the new anchor at CNN, but I liked the video of her decamping to the bowels of capitalism to go womano-a-womano with the Occupiers. I liked her willingness to expose the Dumbo qualities of some of the protesters, particularly when she told them the government had made money—$10 billion!—from the bank bailout. And I really liked the fact that I was seeing this on CNN in lieu of Fox.
Take a look for yourself at “Occupy Wall Street: Seriously?!”
But what I didn’t like was what I found out about Erin Burnett’s not-so-distant past. She started in the investment banking division at Goldman Sachs, went to CNN, and then bounced back into banking as a vice president at Citigroup/CitiMedia, acting as the anchor of their internal news network. She then returned to journalism with Bloomberg Television, CNBC, and now CNN for a second go-round.
All of which is almost fine. I don’t mind when anyone goes into and out of journalism any more. Nothing wrong with working inside an industry if it will help you know it better. But the fine needle of my bleep detector started to vibrate like the cast of “Footloose” when I learned Erin Burnett was engaged to be married to Citigroup exec David Rubulotta, described by Business Insider as “a managing director in high-yield sales at Citibank.”
That was a lotta to take, even for a guy like me, who once helped design Citicorp Global Report, one of the first online financial services. What bothered me about Erin Burnett’s Occupy Wall Street coverage is that I didn’t know she had skin in this particular gaming of the economy.
Look at it this way: here was the former anchor of Citigroup’s internal news operation defending the bank bailout of the likes of Citigroup—and not mentioning that she (a) worked there; and (b) has a husband who is still there.
Now I know she can’t disclose Rubulotta or her resume every time she goes to the bank, but this was one toke over the line because Erin Burnett was making of mockery of citizens, pinheads or not, who want to change the system she has benefitted from personally and professionally. Given her curriculum vitae and her fiancée, her defense of the bank bailout makes perfect sense. Too bad the viewers don’t know the connection between CNN’s anchor and a bank that’s way too big to fail.
Like I said, I knew nothing about Erin Burnett before this, but I liked her willingness to talk to sentient creatures outside the studio—and her all-purpose snarkiness about the perpetrators of said reform.
Even so, Erin Burnett’s coverage of the Occupiers didn’t pass the smell test. To tell the truth, upon second whiff it really stunk. And you can take that to the bank.