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Ex-Enron Tom White cornered, but media diverts the story

By marinel in Op-Ed
Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 08:34:06 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

If Jason Leopold's explanation in counterpunch holds any truth, the original August 29 Salon story about Tom White's role at Enron Energy Services division (copy) is a major story that got burried by none other than the original promoters of the story, Salon and The New York Times, in a very underhanded way: destroying the messenger's reputation.


Although Leopold's Aug 29 original Salon story: "Tom White played key role in covering up Enron losses" has been retracted by the Salon editors, google found a copy squirelled away by scoop. Read it and make up your own mind whether the story deserved to be deleted because 10% of it was copied from the Financial Times (a big gaffe indeed, although not worthy of killing the whole story IMHO). Here is the Feb FT story: Enron: virtual company, virtual profits. The other major bone the media picked on was the email White allegedly sent to a salesperson in which he stated something like this: "Close a bigger deal to hide the loss." If this email is unverifiable, Leopold accusers imply that his credibility is zero and, hitherto, there is no proof White had any knowledge of the shady business Enron was engaging in. Although the email might be unverifiable, there is still ample evidence about White's involvement.

So let's see if Leopold was on to something. Here are Enron's SEC filings. Enron's 1Q2001 10-Q includes a profit of US$40 million for the Retail Energy Division (see Part I.6), which I believe corresponds to White's EES. That is based on $693 million in revenues of which $600 million are a result of the Feb 2001 EES/Eli Lilly contract. If the 30/70 profit-splitting contract clause is verifiable, than the $600 million are really $180 millions at best and the whole house of cards falls apart. White's signature is supposedly on the contract and the special LLC partnership set up specially for this contract. These are serious accusations, leads that should be looked into further by the SEC in a public inquiry, or did I miss something and the SEC is doing anything but bust Enron and AA lieutenants (to please the furious crowds) while the generals are enjoying their retirement?

As a result of the events at EES in 1Q 2001, White had two options AFAIC: claim that he did not really know the details (and thus prove that he's incompetent and not worthy of being Secretary of the Army), or admit to direct involvement in the scam and go to jail. Which option do you think he chose and do you believe him? To help you make up your mind, here is a short bio of Tom White, the bumbling exec that only shook hands and knew nothing about the details, details that even I, a shmoe off the street, understand enough to know that the Eli Lilly deal reeks (as well as the other two mentioned by Leopold).

Now, on to the accusation that NYT and Salon practised a little character assassination on Jason Leopold. First, as I stated earlier, Salon retracted Leopold's original article, to which Leopold replied (retraction+reply). In The New York Times, Carr's Oct 4 Web Article Is Removed; Flaws Cited [login required] adds insult to the injury in its attempt at demolishing Leopold's character succeeding in diverting attention from the main story: White's Enron dealings. As a reference here is Krugman's Sept 17 op-ed Cronies in Arms (and Oct 4 correction) refered to by both Carr and Leopold himself in the counterpunch explanation.

In another exemplary attack on Leopold, Newsmax has an attempted response from White's spokesman to the original Salon story which mainly attacks the veracity of the messenger, without addressing the message/accusation that White was well aware of the EES machinations to report profits when there weren't any, and he profited handsomely at the time from it.

Now, I believe that there is plenty material here for some serious questions to be asked about how the Enron affair is handled by the media and the SEC. While White cashed significant bonuses for keeping EES out of red on top of his seven figure salary, AFAIK, White and the other Enron directors returned not one penny to those Enron employees, investors and creditors that got stiffed in the whole Enron Ponzi scheme, did they? Is it just me or this whole Enron fiasco seems like a great kabuki dance in which the senators performed really nice on stage during the hearings in order to please the pubic opinion while the "evildoers" laughed and they're still laughing their asses off backstage counting their loot? Is the mainstream media doing their job covering the Enron affair, or simply covering up (as in this case)?


Additional somewhat related reading:
Here are Leopold's articles in The Nation about Enron, White and Bush.
Washinton Post: Army Secretary's Enron Role Probed
Jim Romenesko's MediaNews Letters: Exchanges between Leopold and others about Leopold's integrity.

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Related Links
o Scoop
o Google
o explanatio n
o copy
o retracted by the Salon editors
o a copy squirelled away
o Enron: virtual company, virtual profits
o Enron's SEC filings
o 1Q2001 10-Q
o a short bio
o retraction +reply
o Web Article Is Removed; Flaws Cited
o Cronies in Arms
o Oct 4 correction
o attempted response from White's spokesman
o Enron, White and Bush
o Army Secretary's Enron Role Probed
o Exchanges between Leopold and others
o Also by marinel


Display: Sort:
Ex-Enron Tom White cornered, but media diverts the story | 62 comments (37 topical, 25 editorial, 0 hidden)
Reporter's Dillemma (4.20 / 5) (#6)
by br284 on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 01:47:41 PM EST

I'm sympathetic to the reporter's plight, but I'm still not convinced that he's telling the truth. It would seem to be easy enough to make the documents he's talking about available to someone else -- a NY Times / Salon competitor perhaps?

-Chris

The NY Post, perhaps. (none / 0) (#8)
by haflinger on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 02:33:37 PM EST

It'd give them a break from their current all-Spree, all-day coverage :)

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
I disagree (3.50 / 2) (#15)
by marinel on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 03:25:44 PM EST

Although there is a strong posibility that Leopold is full of it, I do not agree that he should disclose his sources that readily. Read his counterpunch explanation about what Krugman and Carr did to his sources and why he's protecting his sources so fiercely. IMHO, this matter about Leopold's credibility will not cleared until SEC steps in and investigates the alegations. I believe that only then Leopold will have the courage to disclose all his sources again (to the SEC of course).
--
Proud supporter of Students for an Orwellian Society
[ Parent ]
Not that simple. (4.00 / 2) (#17)
by Demiurge on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 03:31:46 PM EST

He's just using his "sources" as a smokescreen to cover up his misdeeds.

He plagarizes the work of another paper. They catch him on it. He claims that they stole the information from an earlier article by him. But no one can find the article? Why? Well, according to Leopold, it's part of a massive conspiracy to slander his name, involving collusion at a dozen different news agencies and in the government.

[ Parent ]
killing the messenger (4.50 / 2) (#21)
by marinel on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 03:51:01 PM EST

Like I said, Leopold might be untrustworthy, yet his story does contain some meat [e.g. the Eli Lilly/Enron LLC and contract which might implicate White rather deeply in the whole mess]. Shouldn't someone pick up his story and try to figure out if there is something there? Why is that?

Does this mean that if we get enough bumbling reporters screwing up stories on X, that no one will pick up anything related to those stories because they're tainted now?
--
Proud supporter of Students for an Orwellian Society
[ Parent ]

Wolf! (none / 0) (#48)
by br284 on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 10:09:05 AM EST

Does this mean that if we get enough bumbling reporters screwing up stories on X, that no one will pick up anything related to those stories because they're tainted now?

The flip side is that once you get enough bumbling reporters covering an issue and they all fuck up the coverage, when a legit reporter comes in and does a great investigative piece or something, the public will not care to listen to it as they have been burned too many times before. Thus I think Leopold should go down in flames and the story ignored until someone who is known to be a good reporter covers the story in a proper fashion. People will pay attention then.

The fact that we've seen no more coverage of this does not suggest a coverup -- rather it suggests that people have looked at it (it's too big to let someone else scoop you on) and found that there is not a story here worth publishing as you and Leopold seem to think.

-Chris


[ Parent ]

Ridiculous (4.00 / 4) (#13)
by Demiurge on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 03:22:02 PM EST

A grossly unethical 'journalist' plagarizes other's work, fabricates evidence, and when people begin to catch on he makes wild, unsupported claims of persecution.

The "main story" is built on lies and conjecture.

Bullshit (3.33 / 3) (#18)
by marinel on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 03:32:57 PM EST

Are you trying to tell me that journalists don't copy wires all the time? So, the guy did something stupid and copied word for word seven paragraphs out of the Financial Times, but that is no reason to bury the story. The messenger might be a dumbass, but the story should not die with the messenger, should it?

Whether the main story is built on lies and conjencture can be easily proven if the Feb 2001 Eli Lilly/Enron LLC and contract are made public. Only then we'll know what White's involvement in it really was. If his signature is all over the paperwork and the 30/70 deal is true, then Leopold should be exonerated. Was this disclosure done yet? I don't think you can pronounce on it until then.
--
Proud supporter of Students for an Orwellian Society
[ Parent ]

No. He shouldn't be exxonerated (5.00 / 3) (#20)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 03:47:34 PM EST

If Salon's claims regarding Leopold's behaviour are true, the man should never work as a journalist again. Those claims are first, that he plagiarised 480 words from someone else's article, and them lied about it, finally owning up to an "accident" when he had no credible alternative, and secondly, that he made an extraordinary claim (which still may be true), and failed to adequately support it. The first means no employer will trust him again. The second means no reader will trust him again.

Journalist do copy wires, but they don't copy them verbatim unless they have permission (which usually they do). That's quite different to wholesale copying of someone else's investigative work and then lieing about it.  

The issue of the substance of his article is really irrelevant. Salon, in fact, say they've seen the Eli Lilly documents, and have no argument with Leopold concerning those. You might argue that really they shouldn't have pulled the article, but you could better argue that Leopold should have been more honest and/or careful.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

Hmmm... (2.00 / 1) (#22)
by marinel on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 03:55:14 PM EST

Again, it seems that the center of the discussion is Leopold and not White. Have you considered at all what Salon's admission about the Eli Lilly contract means, and why that is not the main story now?
--
Proud supporter of Students for an Orwellian Society
[ Parent ]
Yes. (5.00 / 2) (#27)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 05:38:06 PM EST

See my reply to you in another thread. I think the implications are still damning for White's career if taken seriously, but I don't hold out much hope that the administration will kick him out, or know what the state of the general enquiries and prosecutions concerning Enron is. In itself Leopold's article is not that innteresting if the email is not considered authentic.

I can offer an explanation, on top of that, as to why a lot of my attention was originally focussed on Leopold's credibility: You pitched your article as "Crusading journalist persecuted by Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy". I don't know about you, but my reaction to that is to go and find a non-conspiratorial (and therefore more credible) explanation for the actions taken. As it happens, one was quickly to hand, and since it hadn't been mentioned, I posted it (twice, admittedly).

If you wanted to focus attention on the Lily case, you should have mentioned it in your article, and pitched it in a more balanced way. More like "Article by incompetent and/or dishonest journalist pulled by Salon. Did it still have some value ?"

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

Semantics (4.00 / 1) (#30)
by marinel on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 07:25:37 PM EST

You pitched your article as "Crusading journalist persecuted by Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy".
I think you're stretching it a bit here. Was the title not obvious enough that this was a two part story: "Ex-Enron Tom White cornered, but media diverts the story" ? First, I presented the Tom White part in the Eli Lilly deal, second the media diversion.
If you wanted to focus attention on the Lily case, you should have mentioned it in your article, and pitched it in a more balanced way.
But I did mention it and I thought I made a good attempt at showing two parts to this story: the Eli Lilly deal first and the diversion. Was that not clear enough? Yes, the Eli Lilly deal is there to indict White, but it's all just semantics at this point arguing about what the title should have been or whether the tone of my story is at the proper pitch, isn't it?
--
Proud supporter of Students for an Orwellian Society
[ Parent ]
White may be a crook, but Salon did right (4.84 / 13) (#16)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 03:28:15 PM EST

Salon gives pretty good arguments for pulling Leopold's article:

1. He lifted 480 words almost verbatim from an article in the Financial Times. He did attribute parts of it, but not the whole thing, and even if he had attributed it 480 words is too much for a commercial journalist to lift.

2. The e-mail from Tom White instructing someone to cover up losses would be absolutely damning if it were credible, but according to Salon, they haven't received either a decent copy of this email, or any corroborating evidence.

Now, (1) is not necessarily a big problem. It may have been an accident. (2) is extremely dodgy. Salon's account of events surrounding the email and their attempts to confirm its veracity seems too detailed, and reflects too badly on them, for it to be a fabrication.

Leopold's claim that Salon frightened his source off may be true, but the rest of his account is a bit vague and (given that he's meant to be a journalist) hard to comprehend. In particular, I'm going to take a lot of convincing that Krugman failed to back him up because the Time's told him to take a fall. He has plently of other jobs, after all.

This shouldn't be taken as an attempt to defend White. The fact someone so intimately connnected to Enron is in the US government is appalling. He may even have sent that email. But, this Leopold bloke doesn't appear to be telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate

Good points, but... (3.66 / 3) (#19)
by marinel on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 03:44:14 PM EST

I agree with most of what you said, and I'll restate what I said numerous times already (see also my response below to Demiurge). If Leopold's original story is mostly true, even without the White email, there are enough leads for an SEC investigation. So, Leopold is a dumbass and he's not telling the whole truth trying to cover up for his fuckups, but, more importantly, shouldn't someone try to find out if White is telling the whole truth, someone from the SEC? Shouldn't we question Salon, The New York and others who were quick to attack Leopold's credibility and totally drop the ball on his story?
--
Proud supporter of Students for an Orwellian Society
[ Parent ]
I don't entirely agree (4.50 / 2) (#26)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 05:27:14 PM EST

I've just reread the original Salon piece. I think that email plays a crucial role. The fact White allegedly used the word "hide" is very important. It is the one thing which, if it turned out to be true, there would be no way he'd be able to wiggle out of by claiming to be a "good old boy, never meanin' no harm".

Most of the rest of the article - all the documentation on EES's role in Enron's dubious accounting practises - does cast doubt on White's claim that he never knew what was going on, but it doesn't clearly point the finger at him. Basically, the rest of the article says "Either White was very dense, incompetent, or a crook", and is therefore (IMHO) unfit to hold government office. But there's enouugh information to reach that conclusion already in the public domain (see the FT article), with Leopold's article. That is probably why the article is no longer being persued. You'll notice Krugman's retraction only mentions the email, and doesn't retract the rest of the case against the administration and its ex-Enron buddies.

I don't know enough about the current Enron-related prosecutions, or the role of the SEC to comment on precisely what action the authhorities should be taking.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

I think you dismiss the story too easily (2.00 / 1) (#29)
by marinel on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 07:11:44 PM EST

You say:
But there's enouugh information to reach that conclusion already in the public domain (see the FT article), with Leopold's article.
What the FT article takes on is small potatoes (the Quaker Oats deal). By comparision Leopold adds significantly new information: the Eli Lilly $600 milion deal (most of EES' 1Q01 revenues) and direct acusations that Tom White was directly involved in it as one of the few that set up the LLC partnership and one of the contract signers.
You'll notice Krugman's retraction only mentions the email, and doesn't retract the rest of the case against the administration and its ex-Enron buddies.
I disagree that The New York Times did the right thing. The last word from them on this story was Carr's column which basically did character assassination thus managing to bury the story at the same time. If NYT were to stick by the rest of the story they could have done much more than to let the readers figure out which parts they're still standing by, like follow up on the main thread of contention about White's involvement in the scheme...
I don't know enough about the current Enron-related prosecutions, or the role of the SEC to comment on precisely what action the authhorities should be taking.
Now, if SEC was looking into it, that should have become known by now since SEC inquries are matter of public record, aren't they?
--
Proud supporter of Students for an Orwellian Society
[ Parent ]
credibility of copied article (3.00 / 1) (#25)
by cronian on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 05:10:49 PM EST

I read that first of all he plagiarized from the financial times and then questions about the accuracy of the article. If he copied it out of the FT, then why doesn't the FT article coroborate what he says? Am I missing something?

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
The copied section ... (none / 0) (#28)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 05:39:56 PM EST

... is relatively minor, and the content is already more-or-less public knowledge. The section in doubt - the email allegedly from Tom White telling someone to "hide" losses - is not from the FT article.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
I'm skeptical of this guy's defense (4.00 / 1) (#32)
by jbuck on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 08:19:16 PM EST

Salon has always been a strongly partisan site that rather openly dislikes the Bush administration and admired Bill Clinton (though as moderate liberals they also tend to bash anyone on Clinton's left, particularly Michael Moore, Ralph Nader, Greens in general, and antiwar demonstrators).

If they could nail White without fear of a libel judgement they'd do it in a second.

Salon's conundrum (none / 0) (#35)
by marinel on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:03:04 PM EST

While what you say makes perfect sense, Salon was caught here between the hammer and the anvil. So, they chose to eliminate all traces of the story in order to cover up for the fact that they fucked up in believing all Leopold had written. Wouldn't a more sensible approach have been to pick up on the verifiable facts that Leopold has brought forward and do something with them besides pointing readers to the Nexis database in a faraway blog, not even on their own website?

It's as if Salon wants nothing to do with this story now just because Leopold has touched it, which seems to be exactly The New York Times approach - definitely not investigative journalism, more like a lame cop-out that killed the story as a side effect of nitpicking on the White email veracity.
--
Proud supporter of Students for an Orwellian Society
[ Parent ]

Umm (none / 0) (#47)
by br284 on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 10:01:41 AM EST

How do you know that Salon did not pick up the facts and investigate the story on their own and find that there was nothing worth reporting? You seem to assume that since Salon pulled the story, no one else has looked into it -- whereas I would suspect a situation much more like everyone else picking up on it, looking at what was there and deciding that the story was in fact pure crap speculation.

-Chris

[ Parent ]

What's your point?! (3.50 / 4) (#41)
by Skywise on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 11:16:16 PM EST

That the White House is controlling the New York Times and Salon from publishing an Enron story?

The same New York Times that published an editorial that called Bush a silly little boy general with delusions of Grandeur?

The same Salon that berates the Bush administration for being stupid?

That the Enron story is being covered up by the media  who are secretly being controlled by "The Man".  But we can still read the offending article as it's still available via Google and the Salon article talking about pulling the article tells readers where to find it on the net!

The criminal action itself, while still a criminal action, is miniscule to the actual crimes this guy is being actually investigated with.  $600 million?  Enron is responsible for monetary damages in the hundreds of BILLIONS (if not thousands of billions).  Going after the $600 million charge is a waste of lawyers time when they can nail this guy on far greater charges.  It'd be like trying to prosecute the beltway sniper for criminal penalties for stealing the rifle (which me may have).  We're talking maybe another year in jail on top of the death penalty.

But that isn't even important to this article.  If he has criminal PROOF, Leopold should give it to the SEC and let them deal with it in their investigation.  As the public, it's nothing more than GOSSIP to us.  The story has some salient points, but it's all SPECULATION.  I get better "facts" from the National Enquirer.  (Heck, I get PHOTOS).

Does this mean the Bush Administration hires "questionable" people?  Probably.  What political administration hasn't?  But here's a spin on that... trying to save the life of a company and keep hundreds of thousands of people employed leads people to take on questionable deals for the "greater good".  Enron desperately needed cash to make good, and their energy marketing plan was still a potentially feasible idea.  Still is.  So what if this guy was trying to save the company by getting $600 million and making it look like pure income on the books.

Is that illegal?  Not technically.  Hollywood does creative accounting like that all the time.

Is it unethical?  Ohhh yeah.

Is it the wrong thing to do?  Here's your choices.  Blow the whistle.  Plunge the company into bankruptcy and watch your friends and you go to jail.  Or.  Keep up the charade to keep the ball in play... and pray that your team can kick that field goal and keep hundreds of thousands of people employed.

Choices.

This is not about Enron, this is not about the Bush Administration, and it certainly isn't about justice.  This is about political mudslinging between a freelancer who got caught plagiarizing and his boss who was exposed to potentially damaging libel lawsuits.  Here's how I call it.  Salon probably just wanted to quietly retract the article to lower their libel profile, Leopold swore he wouldn't go down quietly and probably pissed the editor off, so Salon fired the first shot and Leopold returned fire... voila... instant pissing contest.

(And before you start the whole Bush is a puppet of Enron thing again.  Enron was THE major employer and cash cow in Texas and Bush was governor of the state.  It is impossible for them not to be linked.  If you have lunches with "power" people on a weekly basis, and become president, who are you going to choose to lead the departments?  Contractors?  Monster.com hires?  You're going to call up the people with appropriate skills that you *know*.  It's irresponsible to do anything else.  The same went for Tyson foods and Clinton.  The question is whether or not Bush used his power to favor one company over another.  Well, Enron sank while its captains screamed to the Bush Administration for a rescue, and he let them sink.)

Not shaby (5.00 / 2) (#42)
by marinel on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 12:03:51 AM EST

That the White House is controlling the New York Times and Salon from publishing an Enron story? The same New York Times that published an editorial that called Bush a silly little boy general with delusions of Grandeur? The same Salon that berates the Bush administration for being stupid?
Did I say any such things? Leopold is trying it, but all I said is that Salon and NYT dropped the ball on the story.
That the Enron story is being covered up by the media who are secretly being controlled by "The Man". But we can still read the offending article as it's still available via Google and the Salon article talking about pulling the article tells readers where to find it on the net!
I said nothing of "The Man". The Salon article did not tell readers where to find the retracted article on the net. Maybe you're refering to Salon's entry in this blog which alludes to the Nexis database?
The criminal action itself, while still a criminal action, is miniscule to the actual crimes this guy is being actually investigated with. $600 million? Enron is responsible for monetary damages in the hundreds of BILLIONS (if not thousands of billions). Going after the $600 million charge is a waste of lawyers time when they can nail this guy on far greater charges. It'd be like trying to prosecute the beltway sniper for criminal penalties for stealing the rifle (which me may have). We're talking maybe another year in jail on top of the death penalty.
So, we should ignore this story since there are bigger fish to fry right? The $600 million deal is just an example of what went on at Enron and there should be plenty others that only taken together will make the final case.
But that isn't even important to this article. If he has criminal PROOF, Leopold should give it to the SEC and let them deal with it in their investigation. As the public, it's nothing more than GOSSIP to us. The story has some salient points, but it's all SPECULATION. I get better "facts" from the National Enquirer. (Heck, I get PHOTOS).
How low can you go? This story is not just gossip. Legal actions should be taken here, yet I'm pretty sure Tom White will come clean out of the scandal since a few hundred of million dollars is small potatoes in the bigger [Enron] scheme of things.
Does this mean the Bush Administration hires "questionable" people? Probably. What political administration hasn't? But here's a spin on that... trying to save the life of a company and keep hundreds of thousands of people employed leads people to take on questionable deals for the "greater good". Enron desperately needed cash to make good, and their energy marketing plan was still a potentially feasible idea. Still is. So what if this guy was trying to save the company by getting $600 million and making it look like pure income on the books. Is that illegal? Not technically. Hollywood does creative accounting like that all the time. Is it unethical? Ohhh yeah. Is it the wrong thing to do? Here's your choices. Blow the whistle. Plunge the company into bankruptcy and watch your friends and you go to jail. Or. Keep up the charade to keep the ball in play... and pray that your team can kick that field goal and keep hundreds of thousands of people employed. Choices.
Excellent defense of all involved by lowering the bar as far as making the connection to Hollywood!
This is not about Enron, this is not about the Bush Administration, and it certainly isn't about justice. This is about political mudslinging between a freelancer who got caught plagiarizing and his boss who was exposed to potentially damaging libel lawsuits. Here's how I call it. Salon probably just wanted to quietly retract the article to lower their libel profile, Leopold swore he wouldn't go down quietly and probably pissed the editor off, so Salon fired the first shot and Leopold returned fire... voila... instant pissing contest.
This is one point which I do agree with, although someone will have to explain to me how Salon can get sued for libel in connection with something Leopold is guilty off? Also, why is the Eli Lilly/Enron deal forgotten even though Salon claims it's verified?
(And before you start the whole Bush is a puppet of Enron thing again. Enron was THE major employer and cash cow in Texas and Bush was governor of the state. It is impossible for them not to be linked. If you have lunches with "power" people on a weekly basis, and become president, who are you going to choose to lead the departments? Contractors? Monster.com hires? You're going to call up the people with appropriate skills that you *know*. It's irresponsible to do anything else. The same went for Tyson foods and Clinton. The question is whether or not Bush used his power to favor one company over another. Well, Enron sank while its captains screamed to the Bush Administration for a rescue, and he let them sink.)
I mentioned nothing of Bush, yet you bring him in as if I did...
--
Proud supporter of Students for an Orwellian Society
[ Parent ]
Your explanation, sir. (none / 0) (#43)
by BadDoggie on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 05:34:07 AM EST

someone will have to explain to me how Salon can get sued for libel in connection with something Leopold is guilty of

The publisher is responsible for anything published. The author is also liable, but publishers tend to have deeper pockets. This is why publishers buy libel insurance.

For more information, see this UTexas page, from which I'll quote:

The publisher of a defamatory statement is just as responsible for spreading a defamation as the actual author because publishers exercise editorial control over content and are considered to "know" what they have published.

woof.

"The line between genius and stupidity is very fine indeed, but you're so far away from the line that it doesn't matter." -- Parent ]

What a minute... (none / 0) (#50)
by Kintanon on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 10:28:31 AM EST

Remember, it ain't libel if it's true.

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

Remember (none / 0) (#52)
by krek on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:30:54 AM EST

It's not what you know, it's what you can proove.

[ Parent ]
Exactly (none / 0) (#53)
by Skywise on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:48:07 AM EST

Which is why Salon was got jittery when the email couldn't be substantiated, and the author lifted words from the FT.  Even if the information weren't true, if the author could've shown that he honestly believed the information to be true, then that wouldn't have been libel either.

[ Parent ]
Comparing Apples and Volkswagons (5.00 / 1) (#55)
by cevik on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 02:18:33 PM EST

That the White House is controlling the New York Times and Salon from publishing an Enron story?

The same New York Times that published an editorial that called Bush a silly little boy general with delusions of Grandeur?

The same Salon that berates the Bush administration for being stupid?

Well, not that I think that the White House is controlling the papers, but if I were in their (the White House's) position, and I wanted to dupe people like you, I'd let anyone say anything about me.  I'd only stop the articles that implicated me and my friends were commiting crimes that would land us in federal prision for long periods of time.

I mean, so what if the NY Times or Salon calls you an idiot or a silly boy.  Sticks and Stones and all.  Doesn't matter what negative things they have to say, unless of course those negative things can make you someone's prison bitch.  It's much more likely that the White House would only use it's power to save it's ass.  It would be petty to stop people from saying negative things about you that don't really mean anything.

[ Parent ]

One important source ommitted (5.00 / 1) (#45)
by marinel on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:40:24 AM EST

As some pointed out during the voting stage, I ommitted one source: a more detailed explanation about the retraction from the Salon's editors. See the discussion thread for my response to this missing source.
--
Proud supporter of Students for an Orwellian Society
hmm! (none / 0) (#56)
by ebatsky on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 02:32:41 PM EST

Uh, doesn't your retraction & reply link have the exact same thing as the one you give here plus more?

[ Parent ]
hexadecimal please (1.11 / 9) (#46)
by Fen on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:46:01 AM EST

Decimal leads to greed. Don't use decimal anymore. Use hexadecimal.
--Self.
Enron: why death penalty needs to be used (3.00 / 2) (#54)
by Randall Burns on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 01:39:23 PM EST

Enron is such a vicious case of fraud that is shows why the death penalty should be applied to "white collar" crime. China has already been applying the death penalty in cases of extreme fraud. The United States should look at this too.

You're kidding, right? [n/t] (none / 0) (#57)
by petis on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 03:42:48 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Why a joke? (5.00 / 1) (#58)
by jimblob on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 10:24:36 PM EST

The death penalty is either a deterrant from criminal activity or it is removal of a criminal from society.

The enron executives would have been deterred by the threat of lethal injection or the gas chamber from defrauding billions of dollars for their own personal gain.
They would be less likely to commit fraud in the future if they were removed from society and executed as an example to other potentially corrupt and disruptive company executives.

It would be cheaper to execute them despite the extensive legal costs than to pay the bill for future frauds on this scale. Enron and other recently publicised frauds would not have occured if previous corporate execs had received harsher sentences for their fraudulent activites.
If anyone deserves the death penalty, it is those who abuse positions of power and responsibility.

I don't think the death penalty is a good solution to any problem but if you're going to go round executing people, why not execute the people who do most harm?

[ Parent ]
Oh, that's easy (none / 0) (#60)
by Perianwyr on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 12:10:17 PM EST

'Cause Conan is no longer King.

[ Parent ]
There is tragedy here (none / 0) (#59)
by Grimmtooth on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 10:49:44 AM EST

The tradgedy is that Leopold has made it more difficult to resolve the whole Enron mess in a just way.

I understand the author's heartfelt concern that the bigger issue is buried by the smaller issue of the reporter's (alleged) integrity. However, I cannot sympathize with the reporter.

Let's put this another way: I can stand up on a stump and holler at the top of my lungs that gwBush is perhaps the biggest 'evildoer' of the whole lot. While this may be very true, I have not yet provided anything substantial to back it up.

Leopold's situation is a more elaborate version of this. Whether the story is true or not, he has damaged the cause by plagarism (surely this cannot be denied?) and unattributable source material. Instead of bringing down his quarry, he has made it more difficult for the NEXT bloke to do so.

You're concerned about Enron and so am I, and want to see the people responsible brought down in the worst way. But me claiming that anyone in particular is responsible, whether here or on Salon or on CNN, is not sufficient. It requires information that can be verified and backed up. Leopold did nothing I could not have done with a web browser and a copy of Photoshop.

If Salon's explanation for the events holds any water, they were more than justified in pulling the story, and personally if I had been in thier shoes I would have brought the whole thing to light at the start. But I'm a vindictive bastard.
// Worst. Comment. Ever.

How to bury a story (none / 0) (#61)
by Eric Green on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 11:28:00 PM EST

We've seen this story before: when a reporter breaks a story you don't like, find some minor technical problem with his reporting and turn it into a story on the reporter. The question we should be asking is this: what is the truth? I know that nobody gives a flyin' cowpattie about the truth nowdays, but I've read more on this reporter and his experience, and compared his experience to that of reporters who've broke OTHER big stories that implicated government officials (hey, remember that story about the CIA being involved in starting the crack epidemic in LA? Same deal!), and have come to the conclusion that there isn't a single newspaper or magazine in the United States that has the balls to take on the government. Remember, the reason they made a movie about _All the President's Men_ is because it's so *UNUSUAL* that a reporter dare question the pap coming out of Washington.

See, here's what passes for reporting nowdays. The reporter interviews a guy on one side. She interviews a guy on the other side. She strings together quotes from both sides with a bit of filler inbetween, and calls it "reporting". She makes no attempt to detirmine who is telling the truth. That would get her fired for "taking sides", and might get her newspaper sued.

Read any article in any major newspaper. I'll bet you that 99% of the time, it will fit this pattern exactly. There isn't an editor in this country left willing to take a stand, and if one dares take a stand, they're quick to weasel out if the government mouthpieces at the New York Times and Washington Post speak up.

It's pathetic that the last investigative reporter left in the United States reports from... London. (I am, of course, talking about Greg Palast).

-E
--
You are feeling sleepy... you are feeling verrry sleepy...
[ Parent ]

Ex-Enron Tom White cornered, but media diverts the story | 62 comments (37 topical, 25 editorial, 0 hidden)
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