CJR Daily: Those SEC Cops Mean Nothing
CJR Daily has a nice piece on the executive options media feeding frenzy. Or at least at was nice for a while.
After first noting that the Wall Street Journal has a "handy Options Scorecard, listing some 50 or so companies and noting which ones are currently being investigated by the SEC, the justice department, and so on," CJR says as follow:
True. However, the "scorecard" states very clearly that it's an "updated look at companies that have come under scrutiny in recent months for past stock-option grants." The Journal was simply recording the status of companies being probed on that issue. It has issued other "scoreboards" in the past, including a useful one on the mutual fund scandal.
But having your books looked over by the SEC no more makes you guilty of corporate malfeasance than having your block patrolled by a beat cop makes you guilty of kicking the tar out of your neighbor. With more than two-thirds of all SEC investigations resulting in clean bills of health, we humbly submit that the nation's greatest business paper should impose some minimum quota on its a priori insinuations of guilt.
I agree that coverage of the options scandal, such as it is, is overblown -- as was the mutual fund scandal and others. But overstating the case, as CJR Daily has done, doesn't help.
© 2006 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.
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