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Financial TV guru assailed over ads

Suze Orman's appearance for GM is questioned

CNBC site lists her as an editor

Advice giver calls herself celebrity, not a journalist

January 02, 2005|By John Cook | John Cook,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Three years ago, Orman briefly sold long-term care policies on QVC and her site. The fact that Orman earned a commission off sales and that the policies were underwritten by a division of General Electric, which owns CNBC, caused a squall of press criticism that led her to abandon the project.

Orman said such criticism is unfair. Why, she asked, does nobody question the motives of Meredith Vieira of The View -- a show that Orman frequents when selling her books -- for appearing in ads for Bayer aspirin?

Barbara Lippert, the advertising critic for Adweek, a trade magazine, said Orman is a "hypocrite."

"Suze Orman claims to give uncorrupted advice, yet she's being paid by one of America's largest corporations to flog its brands," she said. "It's a complete conflict of interest."

Orman dismisses such criticism as sour grapes.

"They hate Suze Orman and love to bash me because they're so jealous of my success," she said. "They just cannot understand how it is that I've sold millions of copies of books, I won an Emmy Award this year, my show on CNBC is the highest-rated show on weekends. How is any of that possible? They hate me because I tell people the truth."

(In fact, Orman's show is CNBC's second-rated weekend show, behind Tim Russert.)

She did the GM ad, she said, because it was good advice. "It was a great deal. Honest to God, or I wouldn't have done it."

The problem, Lippert said, is that Orman has made a career of telling people not to do things like buy new cars. The fact that she's reversing herself in a paid endorsement deal makes her even more suspect.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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