CBS dares to criticize business ethics of other companies
industry but didn’t give them any chance to respond.
by Â Megan
July 18, 2005
Â Â Â Â
CBS jumped on the ethics bandwagon with a three-minute diatribe
against business that never mentioned the networks own ethical
lapses. The July 17, 2005 “CBS Evening News” took a one-sided
approach that painted a sordid climate where lines “can easily blur
between business hardball and corporate crime,” as anchor Mika
Brzezinski put it.
Â Â Â Â Reporter Anthony Mason criticized Microsoft for its
work in China, but then provided no response from a Microsoft
representative or anyone else representing the vast majority of the
business community that acts legally. The program also criticized
businesses for complaining about the billion-dollar burden placed on
them by new regulations.
Â Â Â Â The story centered on business ethics since the Enron
and World Com scandals. Featured in the story was the outgoing Dean
of the Yale School of Management, Jeffrey Garten. Garten, who has
worked for four different presidents, was not the business supporter
that CBS pretended him to be.
Â Â Â Â Garten is both an advocate for bigger government and a
critic of companies that act in their own best interests. In a Sept.
6, 2004 article in Business Week, Garten called for a major increase
in U.S. foreign aid and for the creation of a cabinet-level position
for third world development. In that same magazine on Nov. 15, 2004,
he urged the president to appoint a “moderate” to the Supreme Court
and “build bridges to centrist leaders from both parties.” These
“centrists,” according to Garten, included Sens. Hillary Clinton
(D-NY) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.).
Â Â Â Â During the story, Mason pointed out that Microsoft was
working for the Chinese government by helping it purge the internet
of words like “democracy” or “human rights.” He left out any
response from Microsoft and failed to point out that Microsoft’s
actions would be in line with “constructive engagement” of China.
Â Â Â Â This policy, which has been adopted by numerous
administrations, entails engaging in business with China, while
setting aside the issue of human rights in hopes that engagement
will eventually lead to inroads in human rights. Nor did he mention
that in a free market place if Microsoft, one of the most successful
businesses in the world, would have turned down the offer, another
company would have taken it.
Â Â Â Â Mason emphasized “sweeping ethics reforms” aimed at the
business community, but didn’t even identify the reforms he was
referring to. These reforms are known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act,
which was passed into law in the summer of 2001. He mentioned that
the business community was opposed to these reforms, saying, “You
hear the business community now screaming, ‘that's too much,’” to
which Garten replied, “I think the people who are screaming are
badly mistaken.” He then failed to bring on a guest to point out why
the business community was unhappy with the reforms.
Â Â Â Â According to Ira Solomon and Mark E. Peecher,
accountancy professors at the College of Business, University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Sarbanes-Oxley has cost companies
roughly 13 million hours of staff time and between $10 billion and
Â Â Â Â James Sheehan of the Competitive Enterprise Institute
wrote of Sarbanes-Oxley in a December 19, 2002, op-ed that appeared
in The Washington Times, “Sarbanes-Oxley criminalizes even minor
accounting mistakes, and holds the chief executive officer liable if
a restatement of accounting results becomes necessary. Thus, a CEO
could be prosecuted for a forecasting error committed by an
Â Â Â Â Sheehan also noted the Sarbanes-Oxley prohibits
employers from making loans to their employees, a practice that is
common in Europe. “For this reason,” Sheehan said, “Porsche, the
German automaker, has already canceled plans to list on the New York
Stock Exchange.” Some companies have also removed themselves from
the stock market to avoid possible Sarbanes-Oxley problems.
Â Â Â Â None of that was mentioned in Mason’s report.
Â Â Â Â Mason concluded his story with this: “Jeffrey Garten,
who will remain a professor at Yale, says American business still
has something to learn.” One thing is certain, they didn’t learn it