Dylan Ratigan is mad as hell and…well, you know the rest.
No, the CNBC anchor hasn’t gone all Howard Beale on the air—yet. But with Americans on the verge of taking up torches and pitchforks and storming the gates of Citigroup, Ratigan has been venting some of that populist outrage on the top-rated business news network.
“If CNBC is a mirror that Wall Street looks into,” he says, “then I have to reflect back the fact that there are people on Wall Street that are behaving like vampires.”
To be sure, others on the network are tapping into the disgust over Wall Street’s excesses that many Americans—and many CNBC viewers—are feeling. Maria Bartiromo had former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain squirming when she pressed him about his $1.2 million office renovation. And though Squawk on the Street’s Mark Haines lamented President Obama’s $500,000 salary cap as “totally socialist,” he blamed the “spineless, yellow-bellied” executive boards for letting CEO salaries balloon in the first place.
But Ratigan has been unreserved in his criticisms.
“I’ve talked to many on Wall Street who say, ‘Geez, we’re all getting papered like devils,’” he says, adding that such honesty is long overdue. “The more honest you are about the fact that the CEO of your bank is a greedy fool who should give back the money because he didn’t make it—he actually corrupted your bank—that would be the best thing that happened on Wall Street.”
And Ratigan says his own candor has earned him some atta-boys from many of CNBC’s affluent viewers.
“Guess what? Most rich people got screwed by what these bank CEOs did because most rich people were the ones who were in the market and lost their money,” he says. “When I go out to the Hamptons or wherever, people want to buy me drinks. They say, ‘Thank you for saying what is true.’”