Ever since Goldman was publicly (if very much ineffectively) crucified in the spring of 2010 by Carl “Shitty Deal” Levin for the firm’s credit bubble CDO transgressions, Goldman Sachs did something very uncharacteristic, if wise: it evacuated the contents of its inksac and literally disappeared from the public spotlight, reappearing only periodically to report on its quarterly performance which until this quarter had been very ho-hum. Since then the firm has been very much delighted that the public’s attention shifted far away from the firm that Matt Taibbi immortalized as a bloodsucking mollusc, to other bailed out banks embroiled in epic cases of money laundering, those caught performing epic trade gaffes named after yet other marine creature, and many others.
Yet it all came back with a vengeance in March when a former employee of the firm, VP Greg Smith, made waves with a NYT Op-Ed alleging the firm was abusing its clients. This in itself was no surprise to anyone. What however did come as surprise subsequently, were the details of Smith’s departure from the firm, which painted him as a vindictive hypocritical malcontent, whose sole purpose in life ever since fortune smiled upon him and some NYT editor decided to publish his letter, was to ink a multi-million book deal (which in turn has spurred a media flame war against Smith by various other less fortunate financial journalists, and we use the term very loosely). Well, that book is now out, and as a result Smith, Goldman, and the infamous muppets are about to get their second half-life of 15 minute fame, starting with Smith’s interview by the just as dramatic Anderson Cooper in this weekend’s episode of 60 Minutes. And while nothing new will be disclosed about Goldman this time, the firm will for better or worse, be watercooler talk for at least a few days. The result is that after having to write a memo to his employees once already providing marching orders on how to handle the first iteration of muppetgate, a few hours ago Goldman again released a “briefing toolkit” titled “Media Interest in Greg Smith’s Book” in which it prepares its employees for the coming brief if acute storm of renewed public criticism as a result of Goldman once again being in the headlines, if only for another 15 or so minutes.
The core of the internally and now externally circulated memo, is the following:
In the days ahead, Greg Smith, a former vice president of the firm who wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in March 2012 on the day he resigned, will be publicizing a book about his time at Goldman Sachs and his views of the financial services industry.
Greg is scheduled to appear on various television and radio shows to attract publicity for his book to drive higher sales. Some of these news outlets have signed deals with Greg’s publisher, which give them exclusive access to the book in advance of its publication, and we expect them to tell a more one-sided story than they might otherwise. We have provided the following statement to any media program that has requested a response from us:
“Mr. Smith’s op-ed portrayed a firm that is unrecognizable to us and directly opposite to the culture we work hard to foster, but we took his claims seriously and conducted a thorough review of them. That review found no evidence to support his claims, but did find that Mr. Smith appeared to be frustrated about his career and future prospects at Goldman Sachs.”
At the heart of Greg Smith’s complaint is an assertion that the firm’s culture and values have deteriorated, and, as stated above, we take those issues very seriously. That is why we did an extensive review of his claims, as vague as they were, and found no evidence to substantiate them.
And so prepare for even more drama and distractions, and absolutely nothing new of substance. Just as has been intended.
Full memo below