SYNOPSIS: The short version of FAQs on Enron
1. I served on a panel that contained economists (including Larry Lindsey), the Harvard Business School professor Pankaj Ghemawat, and the policy expert Robert Zoellick - with only one full-time journalist, William Kristol. I honestly did not think I was being brought in as a pundit. At the time I was not a "pundit": I was a professor with a once-monthly column in Fortune. As soon as I agreed to write for the NY Times, I immediately severed ties with Enron and all other potential conflicts of interest. .I do not subscribe to Kristol's view that it's OK for a full-time journalist to give paid business speeches - and the NY Times rules clearly forbid it, too.
2. At the time of the panel my normal fee for one business speech in New York or Boston, that is, close to home was $20K - that is, businesses routinely paid me that much for part of a day to hear my views. $50K for four full days in Houston was below my normal rate of pay for giving business advice. (I actually collected only $37.5K)
3. I have been careful to follow the ethics of disclosure from the beginning. I disclosed my relationship with Enron three years ago, in Fortune, the first time I ever mentioned Enron in anarticle; I disclosed it again the first time I wrote about Enron in the NY Times.
4. I have been giving Enron a hard time since that first NY Times column, on Jan 24, 2001 - a time when Enron was riding high.
5. The persistent misrepresentation of my role - making me seem a pundit for sale, when in fact I was one of several academics and economists on the panel - belies the claim that this is about journalistic ethics. It's clear that my name keeps coming up because making it seem that I was corrupted makes good copy, and getting the facts right is clearly not important.