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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Newspaper Accusations and Lack of Attribution

In a Business Section lead story in the Sunday NYT, we see a sign of the times in this Elliot Spitzer-world of prosecutors (here called "regulators") making newspaper accusations without having enough evidence of wrong-doing to indict the target. This article about insurance giant AIG's new CEO Martin Sullivan, who replaced legendary Hank Greenberg, contains the following:

Last week, regulators lashed out at Mr. Greenberg again, issuing a report accusing him and others of having cheated a foundation he runs 35 years ago. No charges have been brought, and Mr. Greenberg, who is known as Hank, denies any wrongdoing.

The article went on to list the pros and cons of the 2 CEOs with some surprisingly positive comments about Greenberg. But those quotes came on page 11. The above quote was on page 1. Who read the rest of the article? And what is the inference in the quote?

While Spitzer tried to kill the company, it has survived the initial stock price drop earlier this year. Greenberg had been steadfast in denying "regulators" their run of his empire since 2003. That did not sit well with the government watch-dogs. While Greenberg settled the 2003 Brightpoint matter, an investigator, in breach of what was certainly a confidential settlement, told the NYT anonymously:

Mr. Greenberg made clear that he did not welcome regulatory scrutiny. "Hank's attitude was that we were interfering with his running of the business," said one regulator who was prohibited from talking on the record about continuing investigations.

Did that NYT writer explain the likely breach of a confidentiality by his source? We are getting more of the same unattributed accusations to bolster a liberal anti-business agenda, Bernie.

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