Resolution: Pick your battles wisely
Anyone who makes a living in the media has a gut instinct to defend free speech as vociferously as possible. But Amazon's decision to not only sell but later defend an e-book called The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover's Code of Conduct strained that resolve.
In a purely philosophical sense, Amazon may have tried to do the right thing. Banning a book is serious business and a slippery slope. Caving into the complaints of some customers would raise the question of where to draw the line. There are, of course, the wrong-headed who would demand that anything from The Quran
to The Joy of Sex
But here was a book that was universally attacked and with almost no good or rational argument to defend it. Amazon could have avoided a lot of grief and a potential widespread boycott had it just decided that this one particular, self-published bit of trash wasn't worth the fight.
Resolution: If you date an employee, go Dutch
Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd was forced to resign from a post that netted him more than $24 million in cash and bonuses last year. A reality star was to blame.
Hurd was ousted after submitting a series of invoices, ranging from $1,000 to $20,000, as company expenses when they were actually personal in nature.
Those expenses were related to a contractor, a one-time reality TV star named Jodie Fisher, with whom he had a still murkily defined relationship. H-P's investigation eventually determined there had been no violation of the company's sexual harassment policy, and both parties have denied a physical relationship.
The repercussions of Hurd's dipping a hand into the company till are still being felt.
A lawsuit filed on behalf of shareholders by a Massachusetts pension fund is seeking unspecified damages because the controversy eroded confidence in the company, and, in the wake of the resignation, led to a loss in stock value and $9 billion in market capitalization. The ill effect on the company of Hurd's severance package, valued at nearly $35 million, is also cited.
In September, Hurd landed at Oracle, named as co-president and a member of the board. A legal battle with H-P was later settled when he gave back roughly $14 million in stock options that were part of his separation agreement.
Resolution: Look before you leap
Moving Jay Leno to a 10 p.m. weekday show on NBC must have seemed a great idea. Then again, so did New Coke, Clear Pepsi and the Osborne Family Variety Show.
The positives: The move allowed Conan O'Brien to bring his younger demographic to the Tonight Show
; Leno would continue as a brand-name celebrity for the network; and it would save tons of cash from not having to pay for all those expensive dramas, such as the Law & Order
What happened was one of the biggest broadcasting blunders of all time. Leno failed and Conan floundered. NBC's subsequent attempt to hit the "undo" button led to a massive payout to O'Brien (eventually losing him to Time Warner's TNT network), a lack of replacement shows at the ready (the dismal Marriage Ref had to kill time) and weakened ratings for Leno's tarnished Tonight Show return.
If only someone had asked themselves WWCD (What Would Comcast Do).