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Pity for Poor Enron Execs

Reported by Judy - May 28, 2006

Fox News' Neil Cavuto has had trouble all week understanding that Enron execs Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling did anything wrong in defrauding thousands of employees and stockholders out of millions of dollars, but on Saturday (May 27, 2006), he brought in somebody else to do his dirty work on the issue

On "Cavuto on Business," Cavuto let Mike Norman of Biz Radio claim that the convictions of Lay and Skilling on conspiracy and fraud charges was "a great miscarriage of justice" because all they did was sell their stock when the price was going down. Skilling and Lay were "simply being businessmen" when they took risks in creating "weather trading rooms" and other schemes to hide the company's losses. "When those risks didn't work out in their favor, they were forced to sell the stock. This is the government going after legitimate businessmen. Where do we go from here?" he said.

Jim Rogers, author of Hot Commodities and a show regular, agreed in part, saying the convictions mean that "anybody who took a risk and made a mistake would be liable to go to jail."

Others on the show disagreed strongly. Fox News reporter Rebecca Gomez, Jill Schlesinger of Strategicpoint Investment, and Ben Stein, author of many investment books and a show regular, all said the duo were guilty of fraud and deserved to go to jail.

"These men were lying their heads off. They were telling one thing to the market and to their own shareholders while doing something terribly different," said Stein. " ... These guys are major league criminals. It isn’t a case of ordinary businessmen just making mistakes. If that were true, they’d put the whole management of GM and Ford in jail. These guys were committing fraud.”

It was a ridiculous segment. Fox News had no trouble understanding why Martha Stewart was a horrible criminal. And Cavuto and others on the network swiftly attacked anybody in New Orleans who picked up some milk and bread from a flooded store after Katrina rather than starve to death. Similarly, Cavuto likes to talk about "personal responsibility" and an individual's responsibility to stay healthy (as if bad health were always a matter of choice) when it comes to matters like health care costs.

But when white males steal millions and millions of dollars, Fox News balks at considering them criminals and tries to excuse their behavior. While Cavuto did not personally espouse the views himself, he is responsible for the guests and topic for the segment. Maybe if Skilling and Lay had been caught on video hauling bags of money out of corporate headquarters, Cavuto and is ilk would be able to understand their crimes.

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