What happened to Maria Bartiromo? The Trump election fraud story has the TV news biz asking

Maria Bartiromo joined Fox News in 2014 after 20 years at CNBC. (Fox News)
When a public company is doing news, a manager can expect a text or a call from Maria Bartiromo.
The seasoned business journalist, who is now anchored at Fox News, sat down with the likes of Jamie Dimon and Warren Buffett. The guests will then receive a handwritten letter of thanks.
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She was the first female television reporter to hit the New York Stock Exchange at CNBC and became a television icon who deserves punk rocker Joey Ramone to write a song about her.
But recently, Bartiromo's former colleagues - many of whom admire her reporting skills and tireless work ethic - have been wondering why she allowed her programs to become a ship for President Trump's final efforts to reverse the election results. CNBC insiders and alumni often exchange texts with tweets or clips from Bartiromo and the question “What happened?”.
"There are a lot of eye rolls," said Ted David, a retired 20-year veteran from CNBC who anchored next to Bartiromo. “Maria was always seen as a specialist in principle. She loses a lot of respect from her fellow journalists. "
Election fraud allegations made in Bartiromo's program and other shows are now being scrutinized as software company Smartmatic has called for Fox News and other conservative networks to withdraw over potentially defamatory remarks about its role in the election.
Bartiromo insists that despite the largely friendly interviews she has had with him, she is not a Trump attorney. But she won't reject the president's claims that massive electoral fraud robbed him of a victory in his 2020 race against President-elect Joe Biden. Does she believe them?
"I don't know," said Bartiromo when he was asked the question in a recent telephone interview. "I'm trying to deal with that right now."
Bartiromo is on an island in the media world that is getting lonelier every day.
Virtually every lawsuit that Trump initiated to reverse the election result has been rejected, dismissed, and sometimes even ridiculed by the examining judges. Outbound US atty. General William Barr has said twice that there is no evidence of widespread electoral fraud. Former White House staff and Republican lawmakers who have steadfastly supported the president said it was time to move on.
Still, Bartiromo has continued to oxygenate the president's unsubstantiated claims on its Fox News program "Sunday Morning Futures," which Nielsen said averaged 2 million viewers per week in 2020, and its daily Fox Business Network show, "Mornings with Maria" .
While such an attitude may not come as a surprise to a right-wing commentator or opinion maker, Bartiromo has a reputation as a well-respected business journalist.
Even at Fox News, where she signed a lucrative $ 6 million a year contract in 2014, she went her own way. She reported on the threat of a coronavirus pandemic in early March, when other speakers on the network said it was a political weapon against Trump.
On November 15, Bartiromo's Sunday program became a forum for Trump's attorneys Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell, where they made false claims that the polls were manipulated by Smartmatic and software and hardware company Dominion Voting Systems. (Both legal representatives also appeared on Fox's "Justice with Judge Jeanine" and Fox Business Networks "Lou Dobbs Tonight," where viewers can expect fiery and often far-right commentary.)
Giuliani falsely claimed to Bartiromo on November 15 that Smartmatic was co-founded by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and was intended to cheat elections (Bartiromo described it as "the connection to Venezuela" in a tease for the interview). According to Pollack, the enterprise software was "specifically designed" to move millions of votes from Trump to Biden.
These and other unsupported allegations were not challenged by Bartiromo, except that she asked attorneys if they could provide evidence to support her allegations (she sometimes replied with a "wow"). The statements were only contested or corrected when a recorded interview with a technology voting expert was broadcast last weekend on Bartiromo's programs "Justice with Judge Jeanine" and "Lou Dobbs Tonight".
Bartiromo said she was unable to comment on the Smartmatic complaint due to possible litigation on the matter. But when asked if she would have Giuliani and Powell back on her program, she said yes. She also didn't regret that the duo made their unsubstantiated claims.
"This is the incumbent President of the United States and his attorneys, who until recently included Powell, have the right to have their side heard and present their case," she said. “Viewers want to hear from all sides of this story. From day one, my focus has been on peeling the onion. As new developments came out, I covered them and pushed both Giuliani and Powell, and President Trump, I am writing these No story, but I am determined to follow it. "
A file photo of Maria Bartiromo on the New York Stock Exchange with Nelson Mandela.
Bartiromo said her much-criticized interview with Trump on November 29, which was filled with unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud, was followed by a panel including former special prosecutor Ken Starr and attorney Alan Dershowitz that denied many of the president's allegations. But not pushing back during the interview itself made it the subject of the nightly comic monologues.
The "Russian collusion fraud," as Bartiromo calls it, is their rationale for fully disseminating Trump's election complaints. She claims that many speakers went on television with commentary and unsupported speculation about the investigation into whether the Trump campaign collaborated with Russians in their efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
"Let's remember where we are and what happened in the past four years and that's a full collusion narrative that wasn't true," she said. “And anyone you speak to on TV and on all of these networks would say that probably 85% of the media said things that weren't true. So if you're going to say that things are being said that are not true, I think it requires some context in terms of where we are and what we have seen from the media and from a cabal of people who have just seen this did in an attempt to bring down Donald Trump. "
Special Envoy Robert S. Mueller III's report, published in March 2019, did not conclude that Trump or anyone from his campaign had cooperated with Russian meddling in the 2016 election. But Muller's two-year investigation revealed 37 charges, seven admissions of guilt or convictions, and evidence that the president was obstructing justice. It also found that Trump staff had repeatedly lied to investigators about their contacts with Russians.
Bartiromo said she was surprised other journalists criticized her for giving Trump a platform to broadcast his unfounded election fraud claims. She hasn't denied that Biden is the election winner - she calls him the elected president. However, she insists that Trump's continued claims are timely.
"I know that John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, came on my show and said, 'Because of the virus, governors and local officials, mayors, the way we vote, and in some cases, 90 days before Choice, "she said. "This is what the Trump team is just arguing that decisions were made and not by the state assembly. And so it was unconstitutional. This is what they are pursuing right now. I mean, you are not going to report on what actually happened and what happened." is it getting to the bottom? "
What can be confusing to viewers is that other Fox News journalists have repeatedly reported that there is no evidence to support much of the claims made by Trump, Giuliani, Powell, and others.
Even Fox News pollers like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham have moved away from the story, targeting Biden's son Hunter and his business relationships in China.
David and others who know Bartiromo believe her Trump coverage is an attempt to give the conservative Fox News audience what it thinks it wants.
Bartiromo employees, who have spent their entire adult lives with ardent proponents of unrestrained free market capitalism and married to hedge fund manager Jonathan Steinberg, say she has become more politically conservative over the years. But Bartiromo denies that it is.
"I have certainly expanded my portfolio to include who I speak to and what I cover," she said. "Have I become more conservative?" No. I've always been pretty much in the middle of it when it comes to my personal beliefs. "

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
In this article
Election Center 2020
Maria Bartiromo
Donald Trump

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