Over the weekend, USA Today ran an interview with Meredith Whitney, conducted by Maria Bartiromo, about her muni bond call. Perhaps you read it? Charlie Gasparino did and he's so angry he can hardly see straight and has a whole host of questions he wants answered. But let's backtrack a second. Chaz was surprised to see the interview at all, given that probing of Meredith's prediction last fall by, CG says, "reporters like myself" resulted in the analyst retreating from the spotlight. But she agreed to this one and Charlie is pretty sure he knows why. Veins bulging and sweat pouring down his neck, Charlie posited today it's because his former CNBC colleague was more than happy to "serve as a conduit for Whitney's initial absurd claim."
CG seems to believe Maria's reason for "letting Whitney off the hook" was a combination of good old-fashioned ass kissing of a source by a reporter and the fact that Bartiromo and Meredith don't have a brain cell between them ("the interview reads like a press release...leaving readers questioning whether the analyst who adroitly called the banking crisis in 2007 has since been lobotomized along with the interview's author"). Charles is stinkin' mad Maria didn't get Whitney to admit her fall call was wrong or "concede that her prediction was devoid of any real analysis," like he would've. And don't even get him started on Bartiromo pumping up Whitney as some sort of expert, because it disgusts him.
And check out this little gem. "You have been the voice for concern regarding the finances of states and municipalities," Bartiromo intones. "How do things stand today?" I hate to break it to you Maria, but Meredith Whitney is far from "the voice of concern" regarding the dismal state of municipal budgets. Just about every mayor and governor, journalist, taxpayer and investor I know has weighed in on the issue of governments spending too much, as tax revenues fall and budgets fall out of balance. I put New Jersey governor Chris Christie above Whitney on this issue any day of the week.
Okay. Now that Charlie has had time to breathe and regroup and take his anger out on the BowFlex in his home office, he's willing to let Maria off for the ego stroking. "The real story," he writes, still in his workout gear (a Champion sweatshirt with the sleeves cut off), "isn't whether this reporter is kissing up to a source (we all do it from time to time) but whether an analyst who has the stroke to tank the market is now fully backing away from her claim and what that means for investors and taxpayers."
A story Chaz intends to investigate fully, once this Myoplex shake fully digests.