The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Enron honcho Jeffrey Skilling's trial should not have been moved out of Houston, no matter what he thinks. (Skilling did better on other arguments, but overall nothing much changed.)
Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the view that Houston could hold a fair trial, and offered some discussion of local media outlets.
"The sudden collapse of Enron directly affected thousands of people in the Houston area and shocked the entire community," she wrote in her dissent. "The accompanying barrage of local media coverage was massive in volume and often caustic in tone."
Yeah, judge, but you should have seen the coverage before the collapse. We're not sure the pre-collapse media blow jobs were offset by the post-collapse causticness.
Skilling's expert, a professional journalist and academic with 30 years' experience, could not "recall another instance where a local paper dedicated as many resources to a single topic over such an extended period of time as the Houston Chronicle . . . dedicated to Enron." Local television news coverage was similarly pervasive and, in terms of "editorial theme," largely followed the Chronicle's lead.
Local television news following print? Unheard of.
(Blurb time: The Chronicle's "Faces of Enron" story "poignantly described the gutwrenching experiences of former employees!!!" -- Sonia Sotomayor, U.S. Supreme Court)
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
Sotomayor, a well-known Yankees fan, also quoted the Chron's sports pages:
The conventional wisdom that blame for Enron's devastating implosion and the ensuing human tragedy ultimately rested with Skilling and former Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay became so deeply ingrained in the popular imagination that references to their involvementeven turned up on the sports pages: "If you believe thestory about [Coach Bill Parcells] not having anything to do with the end of Emmitt Smith's Cowboys career, then you probably believe in other far-fetched concepts. Like Jeff Skilling having nothing to do with Enron's collapse."
The majority, on the other hand, made note of Ken Hoffman's Pethouse Pet of the Week column, as the Fifth Circuit once did.
But it was only in a footnote, so no gloating, Hoffman.