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  • Writer's pictureJeff Matthews

Leslie Stahl vs. the Supreme Court

I watched the highly anticipated 60 Minutes segment on hedge funds last night, and my first question is why would anybody in their right mind ever watch 60 Minutes? The way I grasp the show is this: a bunch of extremely old, infirm, out-of-touch people—all white with the exception of the ridiculous looking, earring-wearing Ed Bradley—pretend to ask tough questions while the camera tries to make them look somewhat younger than Keith Richards.

Is that about it?

And to paraphrase Andy Rooney (who strikes me as not so much a humorist but just a really bitter old guy), I don’t know about you but Leslie Stahl seemed to me so financially illiterate she’d have trouble making a withdrawal from an ATM machine.

Still, the show carries some weight, so I watched. And I did learn something new.

It is, apparently, terribly suspicious behavior when a person arranges a conference call with analysts and then provides those analysts with information, especially when the person arranging the call has a financial stake in the company and hopes to benefit from a movement in the stock.

If this is so—and since Leslie Stahl thinks it’s so, who am I to quibble—then this country is in big trouble.

Because the arranging of conference calls by interested parties with analysts, in order to influence those analysts and the reports they write to clients, is (it seems to me) precisely what all CEOs and CFOs do each time they hold an earnings call with Wall Street analysts.

So if Ms. Stahl is to be believed, all those CEOs and CFOs attempting to influence analyst opinion every quarter are doing something terribly terribly evil.

As is anybody in America who talks to a reporter, hoping to influence a story.

And wouldn’t this apply also to lawyers speaking before the Supreme Court, hoping to influence the outcome of a case?

I just have one question for Ms. Stahl: how is she going do her next story if nobody is supposed to talk to her?

Jeff Matthews I Am Not Making This Up

© 2005 Jeff Matthews

The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews’ recommendations.

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