CNN Gushes Over Obama-Appointed Attorney, 'New Sheriff of Wall Street'

June 23rd, 2011 7:02 PM

We all know how the story ended for the first "Sheriff of Wall Street," Eliot Spitzer. CNN hailed attorney Preet Bharara as the "New Sheriff of Wall Street" in a puff-piece Thursday afternoon, and one can only wonder if his career path will eventually take him to a prime-time slot at CNN as a Democrat mouthpiece.

Bharara was nominated by President Obama in 2009 to be U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. In less than two years he has convicted 44 people on Wall Street for insider trading, thus earning him headlines and a complimentary title from CNN.

[Video below the break.]

CNN did not mention that Bharara was a chief counsel to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on the Senate Judiciary Committee, before he was nominated by President Obama. He also helped oversee the congressional investigation into the firings of eight attorneys by the Bush administration in 2006.

CNN touted Bharara's record going after Wall Street but also online poker websites and the Times Square bomber. They did mention a common complaint of his critics – that he hasn't caught any of the big wigs responsible for the 2008 economic fiasco – but buried it deep in the segment and immediately followed up with a positive quote from a government official.

Nonetheless, CNNMoney's Poppy Harlow praised Bharara as "taking down the Gordon Gekkos of Wall Street" and noted his "aggressive tactics that have people talking."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on June 23 at 12:56 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD: All right, and now the moment you've been waiting for. The "Choose The News" winner. Meet the man taking on white collar criminals on Wall Street. Poppy Harlow has this story.

(Video Clip)

PREET BHARARA, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York: Greed sometimes is not good.

POPPY HARLOW, (voice-over): Taking down the Gordon Gekkos of Wall Street, Preet Bharara is making quite a name for himself as U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York.

Professor JOHN COFFEE, Columbia Law School: From the standpoint of Wall Street traders who are thinking of crossing the line, they should view him as not just a sheriff, but Matt Dillon, U.S. Marshal.

HARLOW: Tackling the biggest insider trading case in U.S. history, he's keeping the financial world on its toes.

RAVI BATRA, defense attorney: I see what he's done as nothing short of throwing the neutron bomb on to Wall Street.

HARLOW: In less than two years, 49 people charged with insider trading, 44 convicted, and eight sentenced.

JEFF TOOBIN, CNN legal analyst: He is using these insider trading cases, not just to prosecute the guilty, but to use them as a warning to all of Wall Street that this behavior will not be tolerated.

HARLOW: It's his aggressive tactics that have people talking.

DANIEL RICHMAN, FMR. ASST. U.S. ATTORNEY: I certainly think the use of wiretaps is something rather new in the securities area. But, frankly, snatching hard drives is too. When the hedge fund guys start acting like mobsters, they get treated like that.

RAJARATNAM: (phone conversation) And there's a rumor, that Goldman might look to buy a commercial bank.

GUPTA: Mhmm.

RAJARATNAM: Have you heard anything along that lines?

HARLOW: What was that?

RAJARATNAM: Have you heard anything along that lines?

HARLOW: That's the sound of someone breaking the law.

CHIESI: (phone conversation) I just got a call from my guy, I played him like a finely-tuned piano.

HARLOW: All from wire taps ordered by Bharara.

WILLIAM COHAN, Fortune contributor: That is sending a shiver through Wall Street. People are afraid to talk on their phones now or to text messages. All the -- it has the desired effect.

HARLOW (on camera): Bharara took down the man that ran this hedge fund, Galleon Group. His name is Raj Rajaratnam. And he was found guilty on 14 counts of insider trading.

HARLOW (voice-over): But Bharara is taking on more than Wall Street. He brought down online poker websites that were allegedly involved in money laundering. He's prosecuting Bernie Madoff's cohorts and he sent the Times Square bomber to prison. But critics say Bharara has failed to take on any of the Wall Street big wigs.

ROBERT KHUZAMI, director of enforcement, S.E.C.: It's not for a lack of desire. It has to do with the fact that the evidence is not there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there are charges to be brought, he'll bring them. If there are convictions to be had, he'll take them.

HARLOW: Something the SEC applauds.

KHUZAMI: Both of us together are better than us separately. I think in this case, one plus one equals three.

HARLOW: And when you look at his numbers, so far they're pretty solid. Poppy Harlow, CNN Money, New York.

(End Video Clip)

WHITFIELD: And if your choice did not win or you just want to check out the runners up, I'll have the links on them on Suzanne Malveaux's page at