Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What Did She Do To Deserve This?

A couple of days ago I was browsing the Yahoo newsfeed, and started reading through an article about the financial bailout money. Here's a link to the article. The article seems a bit less like news and more like commentary, but it does tell an interesting story. But then I read an inconspicuous paragraph in the middle of the story that blew my socks off. I can't figure it out. Here it is, in its entirety:

Others, such as Morgan Stanley spokeswoman Carissa Ramirez, offered to discuss the matter with reporters on condition of anonymity. When AP refused, Ramirez sent an e-mail saying: "We are going to decline to comment on your story."
So, let me get this straight. A spokeswoman for Morgan Stanley was approached by an AP reporter, asking her to give information about where the money had gone. Ramirez says, "Hey, I can tell you about that, but my bosses will burn me for it, so you can't use my name." The AP says, "No thanks, we don't want the secret information" (since when does the AP turn down anonymous reports about anything), "and not only that, we're going to publicly tell everyone that you offered to squeal on your bosses. Good luck with your next promotion."

Why in the world would the AP, or maybe more specifically Matt Apuzzo, do such a thing? It's incomprehensible. Apuzzo had so many other options. He could have made no mention at all of the offer to share information anonymously (it wouldn't have significantly altered his story). He could have mentioned that the offer was made and refused, without mentioning the name of the person who made the offer. But, instead, he makes a point to mention her full name, mention that she offered to speak anonymously, and in so doing, without advancing his story at all, destroys her career.

And also, it seems, hurts the AP's chances of getting offers of anonymous information from similar whistle-blowers in the future.

I did a Google search for "matt apuzzo" "carissa ramirez", to see if there was anyone else commenting on this. I turned up about 2 million links pointing to the original article. It was obviously a popular piece with wide circulation. I found one link to another blog (Happy Jihad's House of Pancakes), commenting on the same thing I noticed. It even provides a potential alternate explanation. Not a convincing one, but an explanation all the same.

I half expect to find that Ramirez unceremoniously dumped Apuzzo's brother or something, and that sneaking that in was Apuzzo's way of getting childish revenge. But I figure we'll never really know.



Kevin said...

It's also interesting that Ramirez is singled out as but one example of "others" who offered to talk on condition of anonymity, but the AP refused them all.

Happy Jihad's disinformation theory is clever. It kind of makes sense that a spokeswoman would not have independent access to details of how the bailout money is used, but I don't actually know much about the job of a spokesperson.

In any case, it still makes the AP look bad and future potential sources more wary of the AP. So, if HJ were right, it would have behooved the AP to emphasize that the anonymous information would be unreliable.

But if she is not fired or shuffled off somewhere, is that an indication that HJ is correct?

Bitterness could fit. Or maybe Apuzzo decided upon a theme for his story and a detailed accounting just wouldn't fit -- it would be an entirely different article than the one he wanted to write.

I doubt Ramirez deserved exposure, despite her obligation to her employer, and I'm even more doubtful about the way Apuzzo did it.


Bing said...

Thanks for the link. I'm glad someone else noticed this. What made me realize that it could have been a misinformation campaign is that spokescreatures rarely have insider access to decision-making. It's not their job. So, whatever she had to say comes from elsewhere. I think that perhaps the AP was putting the company on notice that it doesn't play those games. But I could be completely wrong. It just doesn't smell right on the part of the AP.

MamasBoy said...

That's a really interesting post. Was the lady asking for anonymity for herself or her company? Was the reporter trying to ruin her career or send a message to her company. Unfortunately, the author's intent is terribly obscure. At least I'm not smart enough to figure it out, but it certainly looks fishy.