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Erin Burnett and Maria Bartiromo Are the Blake Lively and Leighton Meester of CNBC!

You’d think that all women in entertainment would know by now that denying you have tension with a female co-worker only feeds the fire of speculation. It didn’t work for the cast of Desperate Housewives or Sex and the City or for Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester and Blake Lively, and you’d think with all the brains they’re supposed to have, CNBC’s Erin Burnett and Maria Bartiromo would totally know that shit. But alas. They have apparently been paying far too much attention to derivatives to pay attention to such important cultural truisms.

In the current issue of Vanity Fair, Burnett and the Money Honey go out of their way to stamp out rumors of a rivalry between them — too far, in fact. “I think that when people see strong, successful women, they love to imagine that there is a rivalry,” Burnett says, echoing the sentiment of the approximately 400 billion women who have said this before. “There is not a rivalry,” Bartiromo chimes in, adding: “Erin and I are friends.”

Maybe it’s because there are not as many women. And maybe, I don’t know,” Burnett says, rolling her eyes, “it’s a male-fantasy thing.”

They even go so far to suggest that a super-secret Gossip Girl at CNBC is responsible for these totally unfounded rumors.

I just think that we both feel like, well, maybe at the end of the day someone is doing this, planting this, because it puts more attention on the network.” When asked if she means executives at CNBC, Bartiromo smiles and says nothing.

Of course, all of this feminist outrage is undermined by the fact that in the end, they basically admit there actually is a rivalry.

Co-workers confirm that Bartiromo still has the upper hand, Andrews reports, and that for Burnett there may be a bit of a struggle getting out of Bartiromo’s enormous shadow. “People are always told, ‘Don’t go there — Maria wants that,’ or ‘Don’t do that — you’ll step on Maria’s toes,’” one co-worker says. “They are very careful with her.”

Although she no longer does, some say Bartiromo had the right of first refusal on Today-show appearances — with one former colleague recalling that correspondents were put on notice to take over “if Maria doesn’t want to do it.” Burnett says, “No one wants to be compared …. I have a great deal of admiration for Maria, but you don’t want to be known as someone’s ‘2.0.’ Maria is amazing, but I want to be Erin 1.0.”

Yeah. Next stop, mud wrestling in the pages of Maxim.

The Battle of the Network Money Honeys [VF]

Erin Burnett and Maria Bartiromo Are the Blake Lively and Leighton Meester of CNBC!