On Monday, the financial press reported that Citigroup had announced profits of $3.8 billion in the third quarter, a 74 percent spike over last year, but you won't find mention of the government bailout that saved the bank from nearly going under in 2008.
Three years ago, the government bailed out the bank with a $45 billion injection of capital and shouldered the risk of its $306 billion in toxic assets. Though this is the seventh straight quarter that the bank has posted a profit, chief executive Vikram S. Pandit did his best to sound humble in the company-wide memo announcing the good news. "These are tough times for most economies and for millions of people," wrote Pandit, who thanked the U.S. government and taxpayers in 2010 for saving his bank. "Macro improvement is not likely to come any time soon."
Pandit didn't mention his bank's bailout in announcing this latest round of good news, and oddly enough, neither did most of the major newspapers. In their main articles announcing the numbers, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and the Associated Press (whose story appeared in the The Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe) reported the news but failed to remind readers how Citigroup managed to bounce back. Only The New York Times's Dealbook found it useful to mention the bailout, and they did so in the first sentence of their story on Monday morning. But by Monday afternoon, they had updated the story and removed the reference to the bailout.
Here's the original version as it appears in Google's cache:
Here's the updated version that removes the reference. We asked Dash about the changes in his story, and will update this post when we hear back. You can still read the original lede in the box on the right rail:
You might attribute the lack of mentioning the bailout to oversight at the other papers, but The Times's deleting the reference seems especially strange, especially given this tweet from the paper's Washington reporter Binyamin Appelbaum: "It is disappointing that anyone would write an earnings story about Citigroup without mentioning its rescue by the federal government."
Update: By Tuesday morning, the article had been updated and expanded with a reference to the bailout added back in. We talked to The New York Times's finance editor, Patrick Scott, who was in charge of the story and explained why it was taken out. "The switch was to emphasis the news of the day of the accounting gain. I made a mental note to come back to the bailout later in the story, but had to juggle another story," Scott told The Atlantic Wire. "We included the bailout lower in the story in the next update."