To me, The Daily’s failure says a lot more about Murdoch’s banal vision of a newspaper than it does about a particular technology platform. A media scholar, seriously, should do a content analysis of The Daily, because that’s the purest expression you’ll get of what Murdoch thinks an ideal newspaper is supposed to be.

—Matt Stoller has a fun interview with Neil Barofsky, Simon Johnson’s (and my) choice for new Securities and Exchange Commission chief. While I wouldn’t hold my breath, reading Barofsky is an exercise in reimaging white-collar crime enforcement, which is another way of saying, reimagining the relationship between Wall Street and the government.

Here Barofsky talks about the need to revisit the longstanding, an often corrosive, practice of allowing big banks to settle fraud cases without admitting or denying wrongdoing:

I would want to have a real reexamination of the neither-admit-nor-deny settlement approach toward enforcement. And that goes to really a core question of the priorities of the agency and what it is they want to accomplish with their enforcement arm. One would assume that the neither-admit-nor-deny approach of settling cases, entering a settlement with financial penalties but not requiring the institution to acknowledge that it actually did something wrong — and really they haven’t gone after a lot of individuals for their role in these big financial problems in the big big banks — um, that’s going to likely generate higher cash value of settlements because they are more valuable to the institutions than ones in which they are acknowledging liability and therefore giving the basis for follow-on civil lawsuits from other entities. It is an approach where if your goal is to maximize returns for the agency and the victims in the form of restitution, it’s probably the right approach

If you come with a different approach, a different perspective, my perspective, an equally important if not more important goal is deterrence, and causing enough pain so that these types of behaviors don’t continue — so you don’t have these serial settlements of neither admit nor deny…. And that’s not to say it doesn’t have any place — it may have some place — but it certainly feels like the overwhelming default is to do this. The reality is that for these institutions several hundred million dollars in penalties and fines is unlikely to change significantly their behavior as an effective deterrent, and it may be worth rolling the dice and trying some of these cases, and winning, and scaring them into doing settlements of admissions of liability to achieve a significant deterrent effect, so the ramifications are more significant than the bad behavior.

A eminently reasonable idea that no one in government is talking about.

If you'd like to get email from CJR writers and editors, add your email address to our newsletter roll and we'll be in touch.


Dean Starkman Dean Starkman runs The Audit, CJR's business section, and is the author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism (Columbia University Press, January 2014). Follow Dean on Twitter: @deanstarkman.