By Christopher A. Paper
Have you ever met someone so vastly connected and in tune with current eventsthat you feel like you’ve lived under a rock for twenty years? Well, I’ve just had that feeling. And that’s a good thing! The gentleman that I am referring to, Charles (Charlie) Gasparino, a Fox Business News correspondent, sat down with us and opined on topics like the business of journalism, financial news, Elliot Spitzer, what it means to be a New Yorker and how he gives back.
This is a man who is a New York Times bestselling author, has worked at the most prestigious publications and has transitioned into a multimedia marvel with tens of thousands of twitter followers, a devoted cadre of television viewers (he can even affect the day’s stock market with just an utterance) and rabid readers of his many columns across several internet and print titles.
New York Resident (NYR): So, you’re from the Bronx?
Charlie Gasparino (CG): Originally. However, I grew up in Yorktown Heights, in Westchester. I worked for both local newspapers when I was younger. I worked for the Peekskill Herald, the Peekskill Community Current and the North County News; these publications are all now defunct. Peekskill, though, was an interesting place to report because George Pataki was the mayor there and he used that as his launching pad for higher political office. Peekskill is a grungy town, so I actually covered all the bad things.
NYR: You started off in print journalism; how did you make the transition to television?
CG: I started off in Tampa and I hated it. So, I came back to New York and worked in trade publications covering financial news. Then I got a job at Newsday covering the finance side of City Hall; got enough good stories that the Wall Street Journal hired me. I spent about ten years there. While I was there they had a deal with CNBC where they would use the talent on air. I never did it; I thought it was bullshit. I thought TV was marginalizing news.
Then I was breaking all of these stories on Elliot Spitzer; I was the first guy to do in-depth pieces on the guy. I gave him his first big case - the Henry Blodget case came from my reporting. The Wall Street Journal was unimpressed with the Spitzer stuff at first and they wouldn’t put my work on page one. And the Journal back then was very competitive. You had to get a certain amount of page one stories every year, a certain amount of scoops, exclusives and there was something called a ten-point, which ran down the side of the page: it was the top forty most important stories of the paper and you competed to get in there. There were all these ways you were graded and if you failed they fired you. I was very competitive, but I couldn’t get any Spitzer story on the front page. But the wires loved the stories, and CNBC wanted me on, so I just started pitching it to them. They would have me on to talk about Spitzer, and I started to do much more of that. I then broke the story on Martha Stewart’s insider trading and that was TV heaven. And from a stint at Newsweek I ended up coming to Fox Business News Network two years ago.
NYR:The name of this magazine is New York Resident; we like to interview noteworthy New Yorkers and we think you are one of them. So tell us, what does it mean to be a New Yorker?
CG: You walk a lot. There is something to be said about people who live here. I’ve always had a close tie to the cityand all of my family was from the Bronx. New York has always been my home. I currently live in Stuyvesant town and have been there since 1999. If you’re from the boroughs you call Manhattan “the city”.
NYR: What do you like about the area?
CG: It’s out of the way. You do have to walk a lot, but that’s part of what makes Manhattan great. Listen, when it rains, it sucks. I’ve walked from my office at News Corp (on 46th and sixth) to my apartment. It’s a great workout. And I think that’s part of what makes New York, New York: when it’s beautiful out, it’s a great city to walk around. I couldn’t see myself living any place else. I like the fact that I can go down to Russo’s on 1st Avenue and get mozzarella that’s fresh. I don’t eat desserts every day, but I indulge on the weekend, and Veniero's got the best pastry in the world. My wife is from Brooklyn and we can jump on the L train, go to her old neighborhood where there are three of the best Italian restaurants in the world. Bamonte’s is right there. It’s one of my favorite places. It’s been there a hundred years, great bartender and he’s been there forever. One of the Bamonte’s daughters is married to my wife’s first cousin, so we are like family.
If I’m in the city I go to a place like Eilo’s, on 84th street. I like Fresco by Scotto, and Rosanna is a good friend of mine. I go to San Pietro a lot. The Bruno brothers own three of the best restaurants in the city:Sistina, San Pietro and Caravaggio. These are Italian immigrants that came here with nothing. All of the Wall Street guys eat at these places.
NYR: How do you give back to New York? Do you work with any charities?
CG: I work with the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation. If people need me to speak at things, I’m more than willing. But I could do more. I don’t spend most of my time working with charities. I spend most of my time here. That’s one thing I do: I work most of the time. The Marine Corps program I feel very strongly about, and so I try to help out.
NYR: Working on anything new? Any scoops you can give us?
CG: I think insider trading will be interesting. I think there will be bigger and more sensational cases. We did a story recently that discussed how a journalist is under scrutiny for insider trading. We didn’t name the character. I’m not naming names until I know more, or at least know the culpability of the person. This is going to come out at some point and I cover Wall Street like baseball. I look at who’s up and who’s down.