Audit Notes: NYT’s Goldman elevator coverage, hacking trial, mobile competition

The Times buries the lede

Earlier this week, investigative journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin outed the joke Twitter account @GSElevator, which purported to tweet actual quotes from the Goldman Sachs elevator.

Surprise! @GSElevator didn’t work at Goldman and his tweets were not actual conversations overheard in the Goldman elevators. The New York Times editorial board saw fit to write an editorial about it as if there was nothing else in the world going on for them to fulminate about.

The most damning revelation to come out in recent days, though, is not that @GSElevator didn’t work at Goldman—that should surprise no one—it’s that he ripped off his jokes from other people.

Anyway, Simon & Schuster apparently still plans to publish the book, according to yet another NYT story about the @GSElevator scandal. But this piece has something interesting after all (emphasis mine):

One publisher who considered bidding on the book said he was concerned about taking on a giant like Goldman Sachs, which used its power and resources to attack the credibility of “Why I Left Goldman Sachs,” the tell-all by Greg Smith, a former Goldman Sachs employee. Mr. Smith received a $1.5 million advance from Grand Central Publishing, but the book sold fewer than 20,000 copies in hardcover, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 85 percent of print sales.

Another publishing executive said that while there was an increasing temptation to scout for potential projects on social media — the best-selling book “—— My Dad Says” was born as a Twitter feed — making bets on online performance art and parody is fraught with risk.

Hey, NYT: That sounds like a real story.

— Rebekah Brooks, Rupert Murdoch’s one-time favorite editor, claims she didn’t know anything about the systematic hacking at the News of the World, which she edited.

And even if she had, she testified, she didn’t know hacking into people’s phones was illegal:

“No one - no desk head, no journalist - ever came to me and said ‘We are working on such and such story but we need to access voicemail; or asked for me to sanction it.’” She said she had not realised that it would have been a breach of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. She was pretty sure, she added, that she had not even heard of the act. She added: “Even though I didn’t know it was illegal, I still would have felt it was absolutely in the category of a serious breach of privacy.”


— Farhad Manjoo of the NYT takes a look at the surprising surge of T-Mobile, which AT&T tried to snatch up in a bid to corner the cellphone market three years ago.

T-Mobile has introduced actual competition into an already-consolidated industry:

Former F.C.C. officials say this is exactly what the agency hoped for when, in 2011, it weighed in against AT&T’s plan to purchase T-Mobile. As the agency’s staff explained in a lengthy report, regulators feared that shrinking the four major carriers to three would give providers an incentive to raise prices. Instead, regulators saw an elegant escape hatch for T-Mobile. If AT&T was forced to call off the deal, it would owe T-Mobile a breakup fee worth at least $3 billion in cash, plus an additional $1 billion in rights to wireless spectrum. The money and spectrum would allow T-Mobile to build out its network infrastructure, making it more attractive to new users. Given the right leadership, regulators hoped the fourth-place carrier could play a spoiler’s role in the marketplace. By aggressively courting new users, T-Mobile would act as an agitator prompting change across the industry…

T-Mobile’s plans were so blindingly sensible that its competitors have been forced to respond.

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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: , , , ,