Maria Bartiromo is a big deal — anchor and global markets editor at Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network. In an extensive first-person essay for Forbes to honor International Women’s Day, Bartiromo discusses some of the obstacles she faced in getting there. “Even when I started broadcasting daily from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in 1995, women were a minority on the testosterone filled NYSE trading floor,” she writes.
Not only was Bartiromo puncturing Wall Street traditions, but she was also doing it as a woman. “Independent broker and then director of the NYSE board Mike Robbins comes to mind (may he rest in peace),” she notes. “He did eventually apologize to me for harassing me for so many years with his offhand comments and screaming at me in the middle of the floor of the NYSE for even approaching the GE post where he traded because none of his business was for ‘my little TV show so I better run along.’ ” Other nastiness emerged, too: One time, an unnamed bully rammed “his huge electronic trading device into my back while I was on the air live talking about AIG in which he had a position.”
Such unfavorable treatment, Bartiromo writes, didn’t leave her with a grudge against the men’s club. Instead, she saw it all as a “teachable moment,” and she now also writes in positive terms about the #MeToo movement: “It has been invigorating to see women of all ages and in all industries feeling more empowered than ever before. Empowered to speak out about equal pay and against wrong doing, empowered to tell their own personal stories, and most importantly, empowered to push back and say NO to any inappropriate behavior.”
As a politics pundit might say, Bartiromo appears to have “evolved” on this issue. Consider her response to the bombshell sexual harassment lawsuit filed against then-Fox News chief Roger Ailes in July 2016 by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson. Though the complaint contained detailed and troublesome claims from a longtime host, a squadron of prominent Fox News personalities came forth to assist Ailes in his PR fight against the litigation. Bartiromo was among them. “I’ve known Roger Ailes for 25 years since he first hired me at CNBC and hired me again two and a half years ago. I’ve known him to be nothing but a professional,” Bartiromo said in a Variety piece entitled “Maria Bartiromo Defends Roger Ailes Against Gretchen Carlson Harassment Claims (EXCLUSIVE).” “I’ve learned so much from him and continue to grow.” Also: “Nobody wants to see anybody have any bad experiences. It’s just not in keeping with what I know, and my experience at Fox,” Bartiromo told Variety.
21st Century Fox would later reach a $20 million settlement with Carlson and also issue an apology. A couple of the Fox News eminences — Geraldo Rivera and Greta Van Susteren — who’d vouched for the late Ailes later expressed regrets over their remarks. The Erik Wemple Blog has asked Fox News whether Bartiromo has voiced any regrets of her own. We didn’t receive an on-the-record response. We’ve found that members of the Ailes PR crew don’t necessarily enjoy being reminded of their comments.
Nancy Erika Smith, who represented Carlson in her landmark case against Ailes, declined to address the specifics of Bartiromo’s reaction to the complaint. In general, however, she said, “women who in the past attacked victims of harassment in order to curry favor with harassers — but now want to rebrand themselves as feminist icons — should know that those of us who have been fighting for women all along know who they are and what they did and said. We don’t forget.”
A backlash descended on Bartiromo in November, after she attempted to correct a guest who’d mentioned the various sexual misconduct allegations against President Trump. “Just to be clear: There are no allegations against the president,” Bartiromo responded. “He said during the campaign that wasn’t true.” She later clarified: “Obviously, I am aware that there are several women who accused the president, then candidate Donald Trump, during the election, of misconduct,” she said. “We were talking about the here and now, the news of the day, and that’s what I was referring to when I said there are no allegations. … I apologize if I wasn’t specific or precise enough.”