Citi Tries to Manage Rubin’s Reputation

Charlie Gasparino–no friend of Robert Rubin’s–went on CNBC this afternoon and read from “sources close to the matter” that Rubin had three conditions for taking more risk: 1) the right people; 2) the right technology; and 3) the right oversight.

When asked, Gasparino goes to great lengths to say that the comment did not come from Rubin. He goes on to draw a line around Rubin’s actions at Citi by defining his role as providing advice and counsel.

What’s so striking about this is the way it increases the questions about Rubin’s role. Someone is giving Rubin bad publicity advice because this statement just propels the story forward. Notice Gasparino’s demeanor. He wants to get the report over with. Then he leaves the door open with his closing comment: “developing.” In other words, the clarification from Citi about Rubin’s role is only going to send Gasparino–or someone else–digging for evidence of Rubin’s responsibility.

Now Rubin is famous for being hard to pin down on almost anything. But that just dangles a bigger prize in the game of gotcha. And to think it was looking like Rubin would be forgotten in all the attention paid to the bailout.

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