The media loves to fall in love with Masters of the Universe -- such as the former CEOs of Tyco, Enron, Worldcom, GE, Citigroup, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch. Only some of them are in prison.
That is, until they fall from grace and then the media dons its armored lances and savages their fallen Gods of Mammon. Just like that. If you doubt me, try to conjure up in your head all those cover stories of bygone heroes. I'm guilty of the same superficial hosannas.
Now comes the Oracle of Omaha, the darling of CNBC, the beneficiary of innumerable Fortune covers -- some jointly with Bill Gates. Imagine the relish with which the media fastens on to the 80-year-old stock picker's trust in a long time aide and heir-apparent, Mr. Sokol.
Oh my God, a flaw in the Great Buffett. Let's scrutinize his corporate governance bylaws. Let's see if he's morally or ethically fallible. Let's go over it and over it and over it to tantalize the Bloomberg TV audience, because it is such a grave matter. The controversy is being treated as The Last Act of a formerly perfect human being. Hasn't anyone read the biography that reveals many of his personal weaknesses and idiosyncrasies.
Indeed, why didn't he just fire the great betrayer Sokol, when he discovered the louse had bought $10 million in Lubrizol shares before putting a move on the boss to buy the whole company? That's what I want to know. From Asia yet. Tell the bum to pack up and be gone. And then instruct Robert Denham of Munger Tolles to draw up a lawsuit demanding that Sokol return his undeserved gains to the innocent sellers of Lubrizol.
I just hope tomorrow Warren and Charlie don't have to answer questions about Sokol for 6 hours. I just hope we can learn what they think about the end of QE2, the way to balance the federal budget, and some of their concepts for the future of Berkshire.
Should we be told who would take over for Warren and if the structure of the leadership should be overhauled? There will be demands for more future guidance from a hungry pack of Buffett followers. When it's far more important that Buffett has warned that the glory days of Berkshire's stock exploits are over. Does that mean the $100 peak for BRK B- that was hit in 2007 won't be matched for quite a while? Better note that the stock is holding in the $83-84 range and hasn't really fallen in the face of the Sokol controversy.
Better yet, read Buffett, July 26, 2010 to his Managers("The All-Stars") and the Directors: "The priority is that all of us continue to zealously guard Berkshire's reputation. We can't be perfect but we can try to be."
Amen. "We can try to be." That's all.
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