Since the sordid tale of the relationship between former Citigroup exec Todd S. Thomson and CNBC's Maria "Money Honey" Bartiromo (and yes, she's had that nickname trademarked, thanks) broke, we've obligingly pointed you toward some of the coverage of the scandal. But then we realized that it might be doing you, our readers, a service to explain what's really at stake here.
So. To recap: Bartiromo, aka "Money Honey," is the most recognizable face on financial news channel CNBC. Over the past few years, she seems to have grown close—some would say uncomfortably close—to the former head of Citigroup's global wealth management group, Todd S. Thomson. But all would've probably passed unnoticed if Citigroup hadn't gotten its boxers in a bunch over a private jet trip that Thomson and Bartiromo took home from Hong Kong last year—a trip that Thomson had arranged so that Bartiromo could speak to Citigroup clients in Hong Kong and Shanghai. To fly on the plane, Bartiromo had to bump "several" Citigroup bankers from the flight. In other words, Thomson wanted the two of them to be alone. All alone. CNBC reportedly reimbursed Citigroup for a fraction of the costs of the private jet and having to purchase commercial airline tickets for the bumped bankers.
Thomson was fired this week for that and other allegations of impropriety, including having Citigroup sponsor a program on the Sundance Channel for $5 million. The proposed host? Bartiromo. The two have also sat on a Leadership Advisory Board together at the Wharton School of Business since 2005 (Thomson reportedly recommended Bartiromo), and have presented at conferences together there.
What's interesting is that so far, Bartiromo appears to be unscathed (though we have to wonder what her husband, Jonathan L. Steinberg, who's the son of disgraced financier Saul Steinberg, thinks of all this). Indeed, as TV Newser points out, "Maria Bartiromo is a living, breathing promotion for CNBC." So it appears unlikely that she'll be publicly sanctioned anytime soon, even as this scandal keeps not going away. But if she is, at least she'll always have that Money Honey trademark.