OLD Media Moves

How "60 Minutes" missed the boat on the short story

April 1, 2006

TheDeal.com executive editor Yvette Kantrow takes CBS news show “60 Minutes” and Leslie Stahl to task for getting suckered into a PR campaign by Biovail to present its side of the story against shortsellers it claims are driving down its stock price illegally.

Leslie StahlKantrow writes, “We were struck by how ’60 Minutes’ treated Biovail as a company that was essentially problem-free. Victims, it seems, play better when they’re totally innocent, especially on network TV. ‘The damage that was suffered by the company we can attribute directly to the [research] reports that came out,’ Biovail CEO Eugene Melnyk told ’60 Minutes’ ‘ Lesley Stahl, in top victim form. Stahl responded with a weak stab at challenging that assertion. ‘Several big-name banks began to advise their clients to get out of Biovail, not people who necessarily got these reports from Camelback [Research Alliance, now known as Gradient],’ she offered.”

Later, Kantrow notes, “What Stahl doesn’t say, however, is that Biovail itself is also being investigated by the SEC, which is looking at its accounting and financial-disclosure practices. The Federal Trade Commission is examining its marketing practices. And the Ontario Securities Commission is investigating suspicious trading activity of Biovail shares in accounts either directly or indirectly owned by Melnyk. The exclusion of these facts is especially surprising, given that they were all clearly laid out in a lengthy piece in The New York Times’ Sunday business section that appeared the same day as the ’60 Minutes’ report.”

Read the rest of her critique here.

What is disturbing is that “60 Minutes” has a reputation for being hard hitting against companies, or at least presenting both sides of the story. Have the media forgotten that companies are notorious for only presenting one side of a story?

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