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Which one is it?
February 14, 2003 7:35 AM   Subscribe

The New York Times published on Sunday a very favorable report on Ken Lay. In it, they argue that he was, at least in part, wrongly chastised for his role in the Enron affair. Apparently, we are to believe that the CEO didn't know what was going on inside the company he ran. After news of the report appeared in numerous U.S. media earlier this week, the BBC today counterattacks brutally (although perhaps not intentionally), describing some of the most ruthless Enron practices - like placing the combined total salary of the top 200 executives salary at one and a half times the company's total earnings (Lay's went from 15m to 164 mil in that period). My question is simple: just what is going on here?
posted by magullo (9 comments total)

 
The two articles don't contradict each other, Enron is a big company and Lay while villified at the time appears to have believed in the company.

This doesn't mean that the droves of other folks (i.e the 200 execs making over $7m a year) around him believed in it too.
posted by zeoslap at 7:47 AM on February 14, 2003


Magullo - Oh, I'd say about the same thing as Viacom refuses to run Anti-War ads

Or similar to 'for US media, UN weapons inspection lead down one road only - to war.' That is to say - the idea that inspections might lead to peace seem to be unthinkable.
posted by troutfishing at 7:49 AM on February 14, 2003


If Lay, as CEO of Enron, didn't know what was going on within the company then he is guilty of theft of salary and benefits and should be imprisoned and have to return every cent he has stolen.

As to the question of what's going on with the NYT printing such sycophantic garbage, troutfishing got it exactly right, it's about the raw power of money over truth and accountability.
posted by nofundy at 8:08 AM on February 14, 2003


troutfishing: ...That is to say - the idea that inspections might lead to peace seem to be unthinkable.

Despite what it may seem like most days, not every thread on Metafilter is an Iraq thread. I think you got mixed up, buddy.
posted by UKnowForKids at 8:16 AM on February 14, 2003


If Lay, as CEO of Enron, didn't know what was going on within the company then he is about on par with every CEO I've worked with. The CEO tends to be an outward facing position, and CEOs usually care most about how their "corporate abilities" stack up against those of competitors and rely on their executives to keep them in the loop on internal matters. Stupid? Naive? Yup. On the other hand, not really abnormal.

As for "what's going on here," nobody sells papers except by finding new stories. "Ken Lay May Be Innocent!" is a good "new story" which will sell papers.
posted by hob at 8:20 AM on February 14, 2003


Of course Lay believed in his own company. It was making him millions, up until the bitter end. It also provided him a platform from which he could influence the incoming administration, to the point where Lay actually interviewed prospective white house appointees. The article linked is hardly a "very favorable" one. It describes Lay's chief qualities as "hubris and financial recklessness." Not something you'd like printed on your tombstone.

So, no . . . the guy isn't "evil," unless you consider playing Russian roulette with the retirement savings of your employees while lying about it, "evil."
posted by vraxoin at 8:30 AM on February 14, 2003


If Lay didn't know what was going on, he still deserves to take a damn fall for his criminal negligence. It's part of his responsibility, and pawning it off on subordinates who somehow failed to inform the boss is just utter, total shit.
posted by Cerebus at 9:09 AM on February 14, 2003


OK - serious, non-elliptical answer [my last one amounted to "the media is corrupt", with some gratuitious Iraqitude thrown in] --- somebody leaned on the NYT for favorable coverage. Lay's very close to Bush and a number of Bush Adm. officials. [/conspiratorial speculation]
posted by troutfishing at 12:23 PM on February 14, 2003


If Lay didn't know what was going on, he still deserves to take a damn fall for his criminal negligence. It's part of his responsibility, and pawning it off on subordinates who somehow failed to inform the boss is just utter, total shit.

Worked for Reagan. OK, well, he had Poindexter to stand up and take the fall (fall? He's still working for the gov't), and legitimate Alzheimer's too.

But the continued progression of plausible deniability as an excuse has long been a threat to principled operation of the government, and it makes sense the problem would spread to business.

If the CEO can't sense that something is wrong when the salaries of the the 200 executives is 1.5 times the total earnings, clearly, he doesn't deserve to have graduated from a community college with an A.A., let alone an MBA.
posted by namespan at 7:15 PM on February 14, 2003


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