Audit Notes: Bloomberg Blues, Weil Audits Goldman’s Board, Does Not Compute

Slate’s Jack Shafer shreds Bloomberg View, the new Bloomberg editorial page.

He writes, “I’d rather go blind than look at a world made whole through the Bloomberg View,” with its ideology emulating that of the heroic cult leader Mayor Mike, whose “political values are as unmappable as a hooker’s love.” Nice.

This is good stuff, too:

Among the columnists’ first efforts are “More Americans Need to Work, and to Marry,” “Ryan, Gingrich and GOP Medicare Trap,” “Sharing Costs Is No Way to Fix Medicare,” “The Case for a Non-European IMF Leader,” “Don’t Underestimate Republicans in 2012,” and “Further Evidence Sex Shouldn’t Be Mixed With Power.” As I scan this list of headlines, I feel my chronic insomnia lifting and wonder if Apple could make an app that would read Bloomberg View columns aloud each night as I crawl into bed with my blankie and teddy bear.

“More Americans Need to Work, and to Marry”?

With Bloomberg’s bankroll, Bloomberg View has rented a roster of columnists that looks a lot like the guest list for a large dinner party that a liberal Democrat seeking predictable company would draft: It’s mostly liberals and neo-liberals with a smattering of conservatives and libertarians to provide the protective color needed to maintain Bloomberg View’s claim to bipartisanship.

The most discernable tilt I see is toward the usual-suspect Washington Establishment. Ezra Klein, Al Hunt, Amity Shlaes, Ramesh Ponnuru, John Taylor (of Stanford, admittedly, but a Beltway favorite and Hoover Institution fellow), Margaret Carlson, Jeffrey Goldberg et al.

Not you guys again.

— The best Bloomberg columnist by far, it goes without saying, is Jonathan Weil. His latest column shows why.

Weil guts the audit committee of Goldman Sachs’s august board of directors. It turns out that at least half the eight members of the audit committee have been associated with major auditing violations in the past or have had to resign prominent positions after making shady deals.

Take James Schiro, who joined Goldman’s board in 2009 and is the chairman of its audit committee. One of his jobs is to make sure Goldman and its outside auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, remain “independent” of each other and have no compromising mutual interests. You might even say his qualifications for the role are unique, although this wouldn’t be a compliment.

Schiro was PwC’s chief executive officer from 1998 to 2002. During his tenure, an SEC investigation found more than 8,000 violations of auditor-independence rules by the Big Four accounting firm, mostly related to partners who owned stock in PwC audit clients.

In one instance, Schiro himself owned stock in an audit client called Emcore Corp.

Rajat Gupta, of the insider-trading scandal, was a member of Goldman’s audit committee, as was a former Fannie Mae CEO who presided over accounting violations, a GM board member whose tenure included accounting violations, and Stephen Friedman, who loaded up on Goldman shares while he chaired the New York Fed, which regulated Goldman.

Good stuff.

— This New York Times Q&A with two small-business-lending executives at Wells Fargo is pretty blah (like most Q&As with corporate executives, to be sure). Here’s a sample:

Q. We get a lot of comments from readers who feel they have been mistreated by their banks, and some of them name Wells Fargo.

MR. BERNSTEIN: That’s hard to understand, because we’re definitely doing more small-business lending than other banks.

MR. CASE: We’re doing everything we can to say yes to every single loan that’s possibly approvable.

I guess the insight here is that Wells execs sure know how to stay on message.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,