I did a double-take this weekend while reading the Financial Times.
The paper put out a story headlined “Handling of Goldman case under attack” that said “several former high-ranking SEC officials”—almost all of them unnamed—were bashing the SEC for charging Goldman Sachs (an Audit funder) in the Abacus scandal.
Which is pretty revealing if you think about it, but not in the way the FT intended. Here’s its lede:
The high stakes legal confrontation between the US Securities and Exchange Commission and Goldman Sachs has been mishandled by both sides and probably should have been avoided, former high-ranking SEC officials told the Financial Times.
So ex-SEC dawdlers don’t like confrontation and say the SEC should have sought a settlement, presumably for pocket change like the one Judge Rakoff rejected—and one that would avoid airing Goldman’s dirty laundry.
But it’s worse than that, because look at how the FT describes these eight ex-officials (emphasis mine):
“I think the case will come back to bite the SEC. Goldman is really struggling and something awful could happen,” said one former top official who, like most of those interviewed, asked for anonymity because their employers either work for Goldman or are being probed by the SEC.
You just have to chew on that one for a minute. We’ve heard talk of regulatory capture, but this one of the best examples I’ve seen of how it works.
And it’s a bad case of missing the real story. The FT stuffs that info in the seventh paragraph and doesn’t flesh it out at all.
Somebody ought to take a stab at it.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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.