Mariagate: A Distraction From Citi’s Woes?

By Brian’s Dennis Kneale hits the nail on the head:

  …Do I have this right–Citigroup Chairman Charles Prince, riding hard astride the financial colossus with $140 billion in annual revenue and $1.5 trillion in assets, has just fired a high-roller lieutenant for allegedly having an illicit affair with the Money Honey from CNBC?

Of course it doesn’t read quite that way in some financial media, which devoted abundant space to the flap — that would be way too specific and far too difficult to prove — even as they feasted on it on their front pages. But that is precisely what they and the rest of the media are hinting at, in weasly words of innuendo and wimpy off-the-record insinuation. This gossipfest for a pimped-out press likely comes from Citigroup sympathizers — maybe even from in-house leakers.

And so publications devote precious column inches in tacit pursuit of trivial trysting that may never have happened — and get diverted from the real story, the far bigger one that actually matters: Citigroup is faltering, Chuck Prince’s power and his reign are at risk, and he has just fired a hitter who was loyal to the man Prince succeeded: the behemoth’s patriarch and architect, Sanford I. Weill. Come to think of it, this sounds like a shrewd crisis-PR strategy. Shame on all of you.