Audit Notes: Board Pay, the Hubris of Big Business, Taibbi vs. Logan

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has an excellent investigation into board pay at public companies in Wisconsin.

While compensation for chief executive officers has long been a focus of shareholders and the media, pay for board members has largely escaped scrutiny - even though it has soared in recent years and responsibilities have increased after several corporate scandals.

Lots of bucks for a few hours here and there:

More than 50 board members made $200,000 or more by advising one or more Wisconsin public companies last year. Eight board members were paid more than $400,000 last year.

Nice work if you can get it.

— I pretty much always enjoy it when Steven Pearlstein gets in a dudgeon.

Here he is on Ivan Seidenberg, longtime Verizon CEO and head of the Business Roundtable:

Rather, he revealed himself to be nothing more than a corporate hack peddling the much-discredited country-club nonsense that what’s good for corporate cash flow is good for America. His presentation was so riddled with hyperbole, junk economics and logical inconsistencies that it will be a long while before anyone in Washington takes him, or the Business Roundtable, seriously again.

Even better, Pearlstein uses Seidenberg’s hubris to go off on Big Business in general. For example:

They demand that the government scrap programs designed to prevent foreclosures on homes but want new tax breaks for commercial real estate developers to prevent foreclosures on office building and shopping centers.

They demand a green light for new free-trade treaties but offer no help for workers whose jobs will be lost because of them.

Big Business is unused to having anyone in power push back against them, however mildly Obama has done so. But with hubris comes the inevitable reckoning—and the last couple of years have not been it.

— Matt Taibbi, in his takedown of the jaw-droppingly clueless Lara Logan—who criticized Taibbi’s Rolling Stone colleague Michael Hastings for, you know, reporting what powerful people said—has some sage advice for all journalists:

As to this whole “unspoken agreement” business: the reason Lara Logan thinks this is because she’s like pretty much every other “reputable” journalist in this country, in that she suffers from a profound confusion about who she’s supposed to be working for. I know this from my years covering presidential campaigns, where the same dynamic applies.

Oh yeah, the money quote:

Hey, assholes: you do not work for the people you’re covering!

So true, and so misunderstood by so many journalists.

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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.