Maddow Busts Morgan Stanley Board Member for Lack of Transparency

by: David Sirota

Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 07:48

Note: I'm hosting AM760 here in Denver this morning, and we're going to talk with Damon Silvers, one of the congressionally appointed overseers of the Wall Street bailout. Stream it at, and feel free to call in at 303-713-7600. If you miss it live, it will be up as a podcast here.

Last night, Rachel Maddow did something I never thought I'd see a journalist do: In the name of transparency, she went back and clarified that a bailout-justifying guest of hers actually had a blatant conflict of interest. Watch the clip here.

On Monday, Maddow had on Berkley professor Laura Tyson to talk about the bailout. You can watch that clip here. As you'll see, Tyson defended the firms that have received bailout money, saying they are not at fault in either how they are using the money, or in how they are refusing to answer questions about their use of the money. She also insisted that companies that get bailout money should be able to keep paying dividends to their shareholders.

Yet, Tyson didn't tell viewers that she sits on the board of directors of Morgan Stanley, a bank that has received $10 billion in bailout money. That's right - according to Morgan Stanley's SEC filings, Tyson makes about $350,000 a year from Morgan Stanley in total compensation from that position, and she now owns about 79,000 shares of the company. In other words, she has a direct financial interest in defending the bailout, absolving bailout recipients of wrongdoing, and justifying the use of bailout money for shareholder dividends.

Obviously, it's really unethical to appear on a show billing yourself as an objective disinterested professor at the same time you aren't telling people you are on the board of directors of the company you are effectively defending. But, as a recent New York Times story about defense commentators shows, this kind of thing happens all the time. It's completely corrupt - quite literally, paid industry spokespeople are being allowed to cloak themselves in the veneer of objectivity and use the media to limit the parameters of our political debate on major issues.

Thankfully, when I pointed Tyson's conflict of interest out to Maddow and her show's staff, they did the responsible thing and made a big effort to inform viewers about what happened. Indeed, in doing this follow-up piece, the Rachel Maddow Show displayed the kind of integrity and respect for their audience that is almost unheard of in political journalism. In being so honest about this, they really showed what their program is all about, and how they aren't willing to be used or deceived by corporate spokespeople.

David Sirota :: Maddow Busts Morgan Stanley Board Member for Lack of Transparency

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Rachel is numero uno! (4.00 / 2)
What a class act.

I am very impressed and encouraged by this post David, and everything in it. (4.00 / 1)
Not just Rachael's catch, but your catch to send to her, and your appreciation of her response. And finally your article praising her, and all journalism that matches her principles, to spread recognition of these necessary principles.

It is important to re-invigorate the principles of journalism, to point out in great detail just exactly has gone wrong with the profession that is more than a profession.




To sidebar on the subject of Maddows guest.

She also insisted that companies that get bailout money should be able to keep paying dividends to their shareholders.

keep paying dividends!?!?!?!?!They demand to pay shareholders out of tax dollars, to reward the people to whom risk is their reason, their moral foundation for their hideous profits, because they destroyed not just their company, not just their sector of the economy, not just their own country's economy, but they destroyed the world economy. Risk meet reward.

Where is the leadership that would expose this and decry this and demand justice and effect a restructuring of the economy after recognizing these truths?


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

I was surprised there was no disclaimer.... (4.00 / 1)
Tyson is a well-known establishmentarian. But, then, in a new era of bi-partisanship, aren't we all Obama establishmentarians now? Somehow, I think that we need to hear from our political actors more now, not less.

I am so hoping to see Pelosi ridiculed and repudiated for her complicity in driftnet wiretapping, rendition, torture, and all of the rest that has been directed from the White House.

Indeed, first person mea culpas would be a lot more revealing of the kind of progress that needs to be made.  So, I'm not too, too worried about loyal Bushies coming on Maddow for a bullshit session.  

Bullshit seems to take care of itself. And we've had about enough bullshit on all fronts for a generation.

They only call it class war when we fight back.

I am glad Maddow exposed Tyson as the fraud she is ... (0.00 / 0)
I don't know how .. or why .. Tyson calls herself a Democrat(or at least why Clinton .. and now Obama associates themselves with her) .. as someone else said .. she's an establishmentarian hack ... where as someone like Robert Reich has actually learned .. it's funny that both Tyson and Reich work at Berkeley .. and it is sad .. because Tyson is an economist

Bravo to you and Maddow (4.00 / 1)
I look forward to the day when most Americans will get their news from non-commercial and non-government-financed outlets. When are you going to be interviewed on

In fact, wouldn't this very story be a good one for The Real News to cover, with you and/or Maddow as an interviewees?

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Someone didn't do their homework (2.67 / 3)
To be fair, it's not exactly the responsibility of the guest to recite their resume whenever they appear on television.  That responsibility rests with the host of the show and its producers.  All it would have taken is a quick look at Wikipedia to learn the background of Professor Laura Tyson.  And considering that this was not the first time that Professor Tyson has appeared as a guest on The Rachel Maddow Show, such basic background information should already be available in their database.  

Considering that Professor Tyson openly and publicly reveals on the Berkeley website that she sits on the corporate boards of AT&T Inc, Eastman Kodak Company, Morgan Stanley, along with numerous other boards, it's rather disingenuous to suggest that Professor Tyson was unethical.

I say kudos to Maddow for taking personal responsibility for this matter, rather than feeling some inadequate need to vilify Professor Tyson or suggest that Professor Tyson had done something nefarious.    

Maybe they have different standards (0.00 / 0)
but as a working research biochemist that consults for pharmaceutical companies it is my job to make clear to anyone that might come to to any of my seminars precisely what my conflicts of interest, real or percieved, might be.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Today, I'm a Starving Academic! (0.00 / 0)

Today, I'm a Starving Academic! (0.00 / 0)
I was feeling great about Maddow's handling of this until I saw Tyson's response. That she didn't disclose that she's owns almost a million dollars of stock of a major TARP beneficiary isn't surprising given today's corporate or government standards. But that she's not embarrassed and actually asserts objectivity after disclosure just depresses me.  

Link? (0.00 / 0)
This should be good for a larff.

[ Parent ]
Maddow Mea Culpa (0.00 / 0)
Laura Tyson [is] eminently qualified to talk about the economic crisis and the government's response to it.  

Now what I regret that I did not realize at the time of last night's show, is that Doctor Tyson is also on the board of Morgan Stanley.  Now this is publicly available information, and it is absolutely my fault for not digging it up before the show.
What I regret is hosting a discussion about companies that have benifited from the bailout without disclosing that one of the people having that discussion has a significant financial interest in one of those companies.  Doh!

Only Sirota can turn a Rachel Maddow mea culpa into "Maddow Busts Morgan Stanley Board Member for Lack of Transparency"


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