The Houston Chronicle’s Rick Casey has a nice front-page column in Friday noting that the Enron jury found the business media, who had been blamed by defendants Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling of causing the company’s downfall, not guilty. But the media, he notes, was guilt of writing overly positive stories about Enron.
Casey writes, “And it must be admitted, the Houston Chronicle did not cover itself with glory. We cheered at least as loudly as others. (I think we’ve reformed. Our coverage since the criminal investigations began, led by Mary Flood, has been nationally recognized.)
“We had some, um, excuses. Lay was a compelling figure when he was speaking as a likable visionary, not only for Enron but also for Houston as a creative center, meanwhile showering the city’s arts and charities with millions of dollars of his own and Enron’s. Who wanted to think of him as a Ponzi schemer?
“Skilling wasn’t as charming, but he was very adept at making anyone â€” employee, stock analyst, reporter â€” feel stupid who didn’t understand his opaque explanations of how the business worked.
“What’s more, we didn’t have what federal prosecutors had: subpoena power and the ability to shorten the prison sentences of cooperating witnesses.
“It would have taken some very good reporting to burst Enron’s shiny bubble. But that very good reporting did not emerge until very late.”
Read more here.