Gasparino says Obama record
‘borderline socialist,’ then cut off
by CNBC colleague Melissa Lee

          Posted: Saturday, October 24, 2009

CNBC on-air editor Charlie Gasparino was briefly cut off by "Fast Money" host Melissa Lee on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009, after referring to President Obama as a "community organizer," then saying the president "was a borderline socialist."

Gasparino sidestepped an argument and ultimately delivered his report apparently in full.

Gasparino began his segment titled "Off the Record with Charles Gasparino" with this reporting on pay limits for Wall Street banks: "When I talked to people today at Merrill Lynch and Citigroup, uh, they're saying, 'Listen, I'm a producer. You know, I make this firm money. And if they cap my salary, I'm gone.' "

Referring to his upcoming book, he added: "The reason why we had so much risk-taking over the years is because the government is complicit in it. The government kept bailing these guys out. The government wanted them to take risk, they wanted to create mortgage bonds because mortgages, you know, putting, having everybody own a home no matter how much they could afford it became sort of a right, like free speech over the years."

Then Gasparino took the issue further, implying Wall Street execs are unhappy with salary caps because they don't trust the president. The exchange with Lee went as follows:

Gasparino: "It's completely legitimate that the government has a role in pay here because these banks were bailed out from extinction. There's no doubt about that. The problem is that it's hard to trust the Obama administration because President Obama, if you look at his record, what he's, we know he was a community organizer, I mean ..."

Lee: "All right Chas-"

Gasparino: "This is important ... when you have a president that was a borderline socialist, people worry about-"

Lee: "Chas, Chas, Chas ..."

Gasparino: "... them, him getting involved in the financial system."

Lee: "... we are, we are a trading show, Chazzy, we are a trading show. So let's talk about the companies and how they're impacted because we want to trade this."

Gasparino: "Trade? What do you mean, trade?"

Lee: "You know you can think what you want about Obama, you know ..."

Gasparino: "You gonna buy, you gonna buy Citigroup? You gonna buy Citigroup? You don't need me here."

Eventually Gasparino concluded: "There is a feeling on Wall Street that he is slowly socializing the financial business ... Who knows where he stops?"

Video is below. For the CNBCfix commentary on this incident, please see our "Fast Money" review page.

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