OLD Media Moves

Qwest misses opportunity for good biz press

May 13, 2006

Rocky Mountain News business editor Rob Reuteman, a SABEW board member, writes in Saturday’s paper that telecommunications company Qwest has misses a golden opportunity to improve its coverage in the business press by refusing to capitalize on the fact that it refused the federal government’s request to hand over records of phone calls made by its customers.

Reuteman also speculates on who was the source for the USA Today business reporter who broke the story. He believes it was the disgraced former Qwest CEO, Joe Nacchio.

Reuteman writes, “The newspaper account said the NSA told Qwest the FBI, DEA and CIA might access the data. Qwest declined and the spy agency ‘pushed back hard,’ telling Qwest its refusal ‘could compromise national security.’

“My guess: Nacchio was the reporter’s source. A clue: the sentence saying he was ‘deeply troubled.’ I don’t think Joe was deeply troubled about anything besides saving his hide, and I’ve never heard anyone suggest otherwise.

“Nacchio resigned in June 2002 amid fraud allegations, and the company reportedly continued to refuse the NSA request under Dick Notebaert’s leadership. According to the USA Today story, Notebaert ended negotiations with the NSA altogether in late 2004.

“On Friday, Nacchio’s attorney, former federal judge and prosecutor Herbet J. Stern, issued a rare public statement ‘to negate misguided attempts to relate Mr. Nacchio’s conduct (with the NSA) to present litigation.’

“In part, the statement continued: ‘Mr. Nacchio concluded that these requests violated the privacy requirements of the Telecommunications Act. Accordingly, Mr. Nacchio issued instructions to refuse to comply with these requests.'”

In the end, Reuteman concludes, Qwest comes out looking worse for not using the business press to tell its side of the story, while Nacchio comes out looking better for working with the media.

Read more here.

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