Pro-Business Lobby Misinformation, Part 3—Business is Quite Ethical (Just Ask Cavuto)
By Lee Russ
Monday, August 18, 2008 at 03:29 PM
Among the hired guns and tonsils that represent American Business interests at every level, and in every noook and cranny of America, my vote for the most shameless hack is the one and only Neil Cavuto of Fox. While many others on Fox and CNBC and the major broadcast channels mouth the same line--notably Lawrence Kudlow--Cavuto appears to be the standard bearer for the "business is sooooo ethical" scam.Now Cavuto is, well, strange is the kindest way to put it. He authored what appears to be a heartfelt ode to the rich, for example. Like they're some kind of powerless minority.
So Cavuto's voice doesn't exactly raise my hopes for reason and sanity. But the idea that American business is, by and large, pretty darn ethical, and well beyond the need for any of that nasty scorn and regulation that some people on the planet Earth feel the need to direct toward our business heroes, is one hell of a hard sell in these times. Neil is a salesman at heart, though, and he certainly loves his life on the lap of the rich, so he undertakes his task with gusto and guts, even if lacking in the very ethics he claims for the business community.
Here is the one and only Neil Cavuto on a videotape from a link on a Speaker's Bureau site (yes, Cavuto offers his paid services as a speaker about business ethics). First he explains that at Fox "We like capitalism. We thinks it's a good form of government" (government? it's not even supposed to be a form of government). Then he really gets into the issue of the day, telling people that Cavuto himself has looked into it and only "About a dozen companies" over the last few years have been "brought up on improprieties or illegalities," and he emphasizes that this is out of about 12,000 publicly listed companies. So clearly the viewer can see there's no call for the public's bad opinion of business and, even more importantly, no need for that meddlesome regulation.
"About a dozen" companies. Over the last few years. "Brought up on improprieties or illegalities. I write that in this broken form because we're obviously going to have to parse the hell out of this to see which words and phrases form the wall behind which Cavuto's rather obvious misinformation hides.
Okay, let's see what a 30-second internet search turns up about fines:
Murray Energy Corporation fined $420300 for 'flagrant violationsHmmm. Maybe Neil only meant improprieties or illegalities "about issues affecting investors:" Okay, let's try a 30 second search on that:
Trans Global Mortgage Corporation Fined $50,000, Ordered to Pay over $100,000 in Consumer Restitution; A settlement agreement was reached with Trans Global Mortgage Corporation for failing to return excess appraisals and credit report fees as well as for failing to properly disclose broker fees and/or premiums.
Pipeline Company to Pay Civil Fine of $34 Million for Spills (paid $9 million criminal fine a few years earlier)
Executives Indicted in Mississippi Beef Processing Case (sixteen count indictment alleging a conspiracy to corruptly influence and reward a public official and a scheme to defraud numerous individuals, entities and the State of Mississippi in connection with the economic development project known as Mississippi Beef Processors)Alright, Cavuto, do you have any leg to stand on at all? All these cites come from what I consider the "last few years," A couple are from the late 1990s, the rest all from 2000 to 2008. And this doesn't even really scartch the surface of Enron, Global Crossing, Sunbeam, and on and on.
Three executives of a national cleaning and maintenance company were indicted on charges of defrauding the federal government of more than $18 million in employment taxes owed on behalf of hundreds of illegal immigrant workers; The company, Rosenbaum-Cunningham International, performed janitorial services for theme-restaurant chains like the House of Blues, Hard Rock Cafe and Dave & Busters, as well as for the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Acme, Mich.
the Providence Journal reported the indictment of two top executives of CVS, one of the largest US pharmacy chains in a 23-count indictment of conspiracy, fraud and bribery for allegedly hiring [former Rhode Island State Senator John] Celona as a $1,000-a-month consultant from early 2000 to the fall of 2003, paying him a total of about $45,000 and also lavishing him with golf outings, trips to Florida and California and tickets to professional sporting events.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday the indictment of W.R. Grace and Co. and seven current and former executives for knowingly endangering residents of Libby and concealing information about the health effects of its mining operations there.
eight former executives of major accounting firm KPMG were charged with conspiracy in a scheme to sell fraudulent tax shelters that shorted the IRS at least $2.5 billion, the Justice Department announced
Federal agents are looking for the founder of BestBank, the Colorado bank that collapsed in 1998, leaving taxpayers to pick up the $200 milion tab. Edward P. Mattar III, 63, and four others were indicted by a Denver grand jury
grand jury indicted former Brocade Communications CEO Gregory Reyes and former human resources VP Stephanie Jensen, supplanting the securities fraud complaint issued on July 20. Reyes is indicted on twelve charges and Jensen on eight, comprised of conspiracy, securities fraud, mail fraud, false entries in the company's books, and four counts of making false statements to the company's accountants
Former executives of a Nicor and Dynegy joint venture, Nicor Energy L.L.C., were indicted on criminal charges of manipulating financial results and were accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of inflating income by $11 million in 2001
A federal grand jury in Columbus, Ohio indicted seven former executives of National Century Financial Enterprises (NCFE) on charges of conspiring to defraud investors by lying to them and others about how the investors' funds would be used, diverting the funds, then hiding the shortfall by moving money back and forth between subsidiaries' bank accounts and creating phony reports and records to cover up the scheme, the Department of Justice announced
Two former top executives of Bayer AG, the German chemicals producer, were indicted by a federal grand jury for participating in an international price-fixing conspiracy in the rubber chemicals industry, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.
Federal officials announced today that two former Adelphia executives have been indicted and charged with participating in an alleged $300,000,000 tax evasion scheme, one of the largest personal income tax evasion cases in the history of federal tax law enforcement.
Two former executives at a leading armor supplier to the American military, DHB Industries, have been charged with insider trading, fraud, obstruction of justice, and tax evasion in a scam that netted them more than $200 million, prosecutors announced
Two former top executives of a Georgia medical software firm, HBO and Company, have been indicted, accused of costing investors more than $9 billion in one of the largest financial frauds in American history
So how did Cavuto miss all this corporate fraud and slight-of-hand? Was it just too hard to find? I found everything above in less than 5 minutes, though it took longer to compose the piece and build the links. And Forbes of all sources offers up a consolidated corporate fraud scorecard covering Adelphia, AOL, Arthur Andersen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, CMS Energy, Duke Energy, Dynergy, El Paso, Enron, Global Crossing, Halliburton, Homestore.com, K-Mart, Merck, Myrant, Nicor Energy, Peregrine Systems, Qwest, Reliant Energy, Tyco, WorldCom and Xerox.
Help me out, Neil--is that more than 12? Do you have anything to say for yourself, Mr. Fox Misinfo, Mr. "We report, you decide, but then we re-report in order to restate what was slightly misstated due to no fault of our own that you could prove beyond a reasonable doubt?"
They count on being able to say anything at all, secure in the knowledge that proving they "misinformed" takes too long for most people to bother with.
Yes, as you can see, there's no reason at all to be suspicious of the "ethics" that so clearly permeate American business. Leave them to self-regulate? Give me ten days notice, first, okay? I'm not too far from the Canadian border.