This Hissy Sissy Is Adhering to Higher Ethical Standards

Media Guy Doesn't Want to End Up Like Money Honey

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Can CNBC's sexy star Maria Bartiromo ever get the stink of Money Honeygate -- the revelation that she cozied up to blandly handsome former Citigroup executive Todd Thomson -- off herself? Thomson, as you've surely read, got the boot in part because he bumped fellow execs to a commercial flight so that he and Bartiromo could fly on Citi's corporate jet from China to New York alone.
Maria Bartiromo: Get some good story ideas during that flight?
Maria Bartiromo: Get some good story ideas during that flight? Credit: Craig Blankenhorn

Bartiromo was just checking in with her "source," you see, and Thomson was just being courteous in that he didn't want any distractions -- say, some jackass Citi veep munching loudly on honey-roasted peanuts -- as he provided his journalist friend with all sorts of valuable insights into Citi's operations.

Ahem.

Fun as it's been for all of us presumptuous observers, I predict Mo Money Honey Blues will soon subside. (CNBC, which reimbursed Citi for a small fraction of the cost of Maria's jet-setting, is standing by her.) I mean, if Anderson Cooper could survive having hosted a freaking reality-TV game show (remember "The Mole"?), then Maria can survive this cheesy little pas de deux.

I'm more concerned about what the rest of us will learn from Money Honeygate. We're all pointing fingers, sure, but maybe it's time we reconsider our own ethical boundaries.

I'll go first. Effective immediately, I've decided to adhere to higher-than-ever ethical standards. To wit:

My travel policy
Henceforth, I will only accept rides on corporate jets from corporations that I cover if, when the stewardess is serving me a can of Coke, I get to keep the whole can. (None of this lots-of-ice-in-a-cup and half-a-can-of-Coke stuff for me. I want the entire can. Those cute little half-cans of Coke are OK, but I want two of them.)

My merchandising policy
Not to dwell on Maria, but just before Money Honeygate blew up, she reportedly filed to trademark her "Money Honey" nickname, registering it for use on stuff like school supplies, piggy banks, mouse pads, jigsaw puzzles, cookie jars, dolls and backpacks, among other items.

Personally, I'd buy a David Carr dolly, a Michael Wolff corkscrew and a Nick Denton tea cozy before I ever bought a Money Honey mouse pad -- but whatever. The important thing, as I contemplate merchandising myself (either via the Media Guy name or through another nickname, such as the Hissy Sissy), is that I set clear boundaries regarding what's appropriately dignified for a columnist of my lofty stature.

Therefore, let it be known that I henceforth will decline endorsement or joint-venture offers from manufacturers of musical toilet-paper holders, cat boxes, snacks and personal lubricants with more than 10 grams of trans fats per serving, ear-wax-removal kits, caramel-coated popcorn balls and cross-cut paper shredders. (Any such deals I may or may not have made before Feb. 5, 2007, are, of course, grandfathered.)

My story-rights policy
Perhaps you read The Wall Street Journal's fascinating behind-the-scenes piece on the bidding frenzy that led to millions being paid for the rights to the touching story of the Fugees, a team of young soccer-playing refugees from Afghanistan and the Sudan led by a Clarkson, Ga., coach.

The story, by Warren St. John, appeared on the front page of The New York Times on Jan. 21, and Hollywood went cuh-razee! Universal won the auction, agreeing to pay $2 million up front to the paper, St. John, the coach and the kids.

But did you read John Cook's Radar Online piece about how Shelia M. Poole, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter, actually first wrote about the Fugees almost two years ago? Poole's April 2005 piece, Cook wrote, "hit many of the same notes that St. John picked up on -- the young player who saw his own father killed in his homeland, [the coach's] yellow Volkswagen Beetle, the contracts promising good behavior that she makes the kids sign to join the team -- [though] it apparently lacked the filmic heft to interest Hollywood. That, and Scott Rudin doesn't have his assistant read the Atlanta Journal-Constitution out loud to him each morning."

I just want to say, for the record, that if the above paragraphs about John Cook's Radar Online item are optioned by Hollywood, I will take Cook out to lunch to a restaurant of his choosing, and he can order as many as two alcoholic drinks, one appetizer and one dessert, plus bottled water instead of tap, as long as our combined tab, including tip, doesn't exceed $90.

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E-mail: sdumenco@crain.com
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