OLD Media Moves

Biz columnist is discussed by potential jurors

February 1, 2006

I know I’ve been blogging about the Enron trial a lot, but there’s just so much coming out of it related to business journalism that needs to be shared.

Loren SteffyThe latest comes again from Houston Chronicle business columnist Loren Steffy’s Full Disclosure blog about the trial, which has had me laughing nearly every time I’ve read it.

Ken LayOne of today’s posts by Steffy mentions the fact that he was the topic of discussion when Ken Lay’s attorney, Mike Ramsey, was questioning potential jurors. However, Ramsey refused to name Steffy by name. He just wanted to know whether the potential juror knew some of the apparently scurrilous things he had written about Enron.

Steffy says that this is how it went:

“I guess the defense team considers me ‘He Who Must Not Be Named,’ or ‘You Know Who.’ Transcripts from Monday’s jury selection included this exchange between Lay’s attorney, Mike Ramsey, and a prospective juror:

“MR. RAMSEY: I want to ask him about the business columnist that writes for ‘The Chronicle.’ I won’t mention his name right now. Are you familiar with a business column that he’s written opinions —

“JUROR: Yes, sir.

“MR. RAMSEY: — rendered in ‘The Chronicle’?

“JUROR: Yes, sir.

“MR. RAMSEY: You know the guy I’m talking about?

“JUROR: Yes, sir.

“MR. RAMSEY: Are you familiar with him?

“JUROR: Yes.

“MR. RAMSEY: Okay. Now, he has said things like — things as strong, ‘I think Ken Lay ought to be in a cold iron cage,’ things of that sort. Opinionated things. Has he influenced you one way or the other? Do you believe in the guy? Do you follow him?

“JUROR: No. He’s recently joined ‘The Chronicle’ staff from outside of the city. He hasn’t been with Houston that long. I just read it for entertainment.

“MR. RAMSEY: Do you know the guy?

“THE WITNESS: I just remember when he joined “The Chronicle” editorial staff.”

Steffy’s reply? “The juror wasn’t chosen for the panel. Just to set the record straight, it wasn’t “a cold iron cage,” it was a “cold steel cage.” I didn’t say Lay ought to be in it. I simply said that’s the Enron Task Force’s measure of success.”

My comment: Ramsey sure has mentioned the journalists who covered Enron a lot in the first few days of the trrial. He obviously thinks that business reporters have some sort of influence on society and what it thinks about corporate America.

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