Suze Orman's got milk and other sponsorships in her pocket thanks to the financial crisis

Calling Suze Orman "the best-known personal-finance adviser out there" today, the Wall Street Journal delved into how the TV personality was taking some of her own advice and profiting from it. The advice isn't so complicated -- mostly along the lines of "make lemons out of lemonade" -- but the Journal hints that it is somewhat troubling how Orman is going about it as she makes the rounds on all the networks, from CNN to Oprah, and in writing her books and columns, like for O magazine.

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    Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks at the Economic Club of New York Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008. Behind him is Maria Bartiromo, a financial news correspondent for CNBC. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

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    NEW YORK - OCTOBER 15: R. Glenn Hubbard (L), chairman of the Economic Club of New York, and Maria Bartiromo, financial journalist (upper L) watch Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke (R) as he speaks to the Economic Club of New York October 15, 2008 in New York City. Chairman Bernanke addressed the fiscal crisis and outlined the Fed's response to the recent economic upheavals. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

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    WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 12: Anchor of CNBC's "Street Signs" Erin Burnett (L) speaks as CNBC Chief Washington Correspondent John Harwood (R) looks on during a taping of Meet the Press at the NBC studios October 12, 2008 in Washington, DC. Burnett and Harwood spoke about various topics including the crisis on Wall Street and the U.S. economy. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press) *** Local Caption *** Erin Burnett;John Harwood

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    T.V. Personality Maria Bartiromo attends the premiere of "Changeling" during the 46th New York Film Festival at the Ziegfeld Theater on October 4, 2008 in New York City.

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    NEW YORK - OCTOBER 1: (L-R) Autism speaks co-founder Bob Wright, CNBC's Jim Cramer and CEO of the NYSE Duncan Niederauer attend Autism Speaks to Wall Street at Cipriani Wall Street October 1, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Bob Wright;Jim Cramer;Duncan Niederauer

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    NEW YORK - OCTOBER 1: CNBC's Jim Cramer attends Autism Speaks to Wall Street at Cipriani Wall Street October 1, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jim Cramer

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    Today, the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) launches a new consumer education campaign with the help of money expert Suze Orman to remind Americans that milk is a nutritional bargain when compared to other beverages. At about 25 cents per 8 ounce glass, on a gallon basis, milk offers more nutrients per penny than almost any other beverage option in the supermarket -- providing key vitamins and minerals like calcium and vitamin D that are important for the entire family. Visit whymilk.com for more info. (PRNewsFoto/MilkPEP)

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    WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 21: (L-R) Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein speaks as CNBC Senior Economics Reporter Steve Liesman, Anchor of CNBC's "Street Signs" Erin Burnett, and moderator Tom Brokaw listen during a taping of Meet the Press at the NBC studios September 21, 2008 in Washington, DC. Burnett spoke on the U.S. economy and the financial crisis on Wall Street. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press) *** Local Caption *** Steven Pearlstein;Steve Liesman;Erin Burnett;Tom Brokaw

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    WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 21: Anchor of CNBC's "Street Signs" Erin Burnett speaks during a taping of Meet the Press at the NBC studios September 21, 2008 in Washington, DC. Burnett spoke on the U.S. economy and the financial crisis on Wall Street. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press) *** Local Caption *** Erin Burnett

    Getty Images for Meet the Press

    WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 21: Anchor of CNBC's "Street Signs" Erin Burnett speaks during a taping of Meet the Press at the NBC studios September 21, 2008 in Washington, DC. Burnett spoke on the U.S. economy and the financial crisis on Wall Street. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press) *** Local Caption *** Erin Burnett

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What's she doing that is raising eyebrows? Her "Got Milk" campaign is one thing, although it is fairly innocuous as far as public services messages go, and the same goes for her PSAs explaining the FDIC. But more troubling is an ad she did in 2004 for General Motors and numerous corporate speaking gigs. The Journal says many companies are now courting her to pitch their products -- everything from "telecommunications services to laundry detergent" but that the only one to really spark a response from her would be Folgers.
Orman says she doesn't offer stock picks so she has no conflict of interest taking any kind of corporate gig, but that she shies away so that she is not seen encouraging people to spend money.

For other people, what's galling is that Orman's star is rising so precipitously while the country's finances are going down the tube. And she's a doomsayer, which they say drives more people to her books. The Journal quotes Suzanne Muusers, a business coach in Scottsdale, Ariz. who wrote in her blog: "fear mongers who live off selling magazines and television shows that spew irresponsible viewpoints."

There are plenty of business people out there profiting from this economic downturn -- from Vespa salesmen to the very bankers that taxpayers are bailing out of trouble -- and the only difference with Orman is that people are asking her opinion about the crisis in a public forum. There's not really much she can do to spin the news more positive given the way the headlines have been going. So as long as she doesn't take a speaking gig to give financial advice to the executives on the next outrageous AIG retreat, what she's doing seems like fair game.

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