Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Did the CBS request for resignation in Memogate backfire?

On Sunday, February 27, 2005, the Trenton Times published an article by Cathryn A. Mitchell entitled "Request for resignation backfires." [pages D1, D4].

The eighth paragraph of the story got around to the gist of the article:

Although relieved of their responsibilities, the three executives who were asked to resign have apparently refused to do so. And this is our story behind the story, for today's purposes at least.

By February 27, 2005, the date of the Times story, two of the executives (Betsy West and Mary Murphy) had already worked out settlements with CBS and had in fact resigned. The third (Josh Howard) was negotiating.

The Times article continued:

So what is the difference between being asked to resign and being outright fired?

Well, historically, being asked to resign suggests that a person is being given a way out--an opportunity to save face and be fired.

Generally, when a person is asked to resign, we assume they will do it--for their own good. What now appears to be happening with this story suggests this is no longer an assumption we should make.

Regardless of who is to blame, the modern scenario--regardless of factual background--often becomes one of fingerpointing, with no individual willing to shoulder all of the blam and take the bullet for the group.

Instead, if one person is going down, today, he or she often takes others along for the ride...

Moral of the story: Address outstanding issues head on, internally, fully and completely if possible, before a strategic decision is made aobut how to proceed. Fully investigate all perspectives and get as many facts as you can.

This may save time -- and potentially considerable embarassment--in the long run.

In light of what has played out, the "request for resignations" allowed CBS to negotiate with the three executives and reach settlements (with two so far). Needless to say, the employer has to worry about the employee who was directly fired (Mary Mapes in this case).

Some of Mapes' activities have been reported; from NewsMax:

Mapes' literary agent explained that she "plans to argue for the veracity of the four memos supposedly typed by President Bush’s former National Guard squadron commander, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, in the early 1970s," where Killian complained that Bush's Guard records had been "sugarcoated."

"Now that the other people have copped a plea ... she’s the only one who can tell this story," said Wesley Neff, president of the agency that is representing Mapes.

But with no such settlement to cushion her fall from grace, Mapes is undoubtedly looking for vindication. She is said to have put together 40 pages of analysis and documentation to back up her claims.

And if Mapes' comments after being thrown under the bus by her former employers are any indication, her book may point the finger at higher-ups at the network.

"If there was a journalistic crime committed here, it was not by me," the one-time CBS goldern girl complained after getting the ax. "I vetted all aspects of the story with my editors."

The moral of MemoGate may be to worry about the person who was fired.


Further on the Times, the Feb. 27 issue had an article on the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials. Although the article was nominally about nanotubes, the picture of James Sturm depicted a tetrahedral network (e.g., silicon).

There was discussion of separation by means of size selective tubes. Curiously, there was no discussion of separations using zeolites.

Edward Cox was quoted: "We've already shown that we can accurately separate virus-sized plastic beads that differ in mass by only 1 percent." The smallest channels so far are about 50 nanometers, much larger than a single-walled carbon nanotube.

An ultimate objective is to sequence DNA.


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