OLD Media Moves

Golf and business

March 21, 2006

TheDeal.com executive editor Yvette Kantrow takes the New York Times to task for profiling Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack and his golf game on the front page recently. Kantrow had a hard time finding the relevance of the story to maek it front page news.

John MackShe wrote, “The Times, it seems, is miffed that Mack likes other people who play golf, and has even named two of them to Morgan Stanley’s board and two to its management committee. ‘Today, with chief executives under increasing pressure to have independent boards, the old temptation to have a few golf pals on the board and in the executive suite might be less acute,’ the paper observes. ‘Yet the practice appears to be alive and well, if not as visible.’

“But not to worry. The Times is going to smoke out those nearly invisible golf friendships for us. Because golf is suspect. This we also know because The New York Times told us so, a few months back, right after it emerged that golfing trips to Scotland were one of indicted-lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s bribes of choice.”

Later, she wrote, “In the Mack story, the central theme appears to be that golf allows rich guys to bond with one another and then go off and secretly make decisions that affect the rest of us. Maybe the paper would feel better if Mack preferred bowling. Or fishing. Anything, it seems, but — horrors! — golf: ‘Indeed, golf-obsessed chief executives vie harder than ever for membership in the world’s most exclusive clubs, and many corporate executives still believe that golf is to a board, or a chief executive’s inner circle, as oil is to a car engine: it is the lubricant that makes the machine hum,’ the paper informs. This continues, it moans, even though many executives ‘see a board with too many fellow club members as creating the impression that is altogether too insular.’

But Kantrow notes that the story never backs up its claims. Read her column here.

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