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2/14/2008
08:05 PM
Terry Sweeney
Terry Sweeney
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'Pleased To Put This Matter Behind Us'

As a journalist, it makes me wince to witness reporters getting all sanctimonious when in reality they're doing little more than burnishing their reputations. But the roles got reversed as Hewlett-Packard settled one of two sets of pretexting and spying claims yesterday, acting and speaking with a smugness and neutrality that don't really put the matter behind anyone.

As a journalist, it makes me wince to witness reporters getting all sanctimonious when in reality they're doing little more than burnishing their reputations. But the roles got reversed as Hewlett-Packard settled one of two sets of pretexting and spying claims yesterday, acting and speaking with a smugness and neutrality that don't really put the matter behind anyone.Click here if you need a refresher on the whole shameful affair of how one of the industry's largest IT and storage companies went to extremes to find the source(s) of leaks, which in turn swept through its executive offices like a white tornado. There's little question at this point that what HP did was illegal. If nothing else, fraud and deceit are simply bad behavior. So to watch the company fumble the settlement (and its PR) heaps a bit more fuel on the flame.

Maybe a posture of contrition isn't a corporate article of faith; maybe it was more critical from HP's perspective to admit to no wrong-doing, or maybe as an institution it's had it up to here with the mea culpas.

In this instance, the two sides have been negotiating since December 2006. The journalists' attorney reported that the resolution was "hard fought." Maybe it was the amount of money (still undisclosed) or how much, if any, of the settlement the aggrieved parties would keep.

"The matter has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties, and we're pleased to put this matter behind us," an HP spokesperson said in this account, with this needless addendum: "HP also is pleased that the journalists decided to donate all or some portion of the settlement to charity, although HP was not consulted about the charities selected."

HP's going to play the etiquette card now? It's kind of like yelling at a homeless person who fails to consult you on where to spend the dollar you just gave him for dinner.

Clearly, the thinly veiled snideness here masks no small amount of acrimony, whatever the reason or source. In speaking publicly about this settlement, HP had a real chance to behave and speak with some class to restore some of its reputation. Maybe it will drop this tone when it comes times to settle a pending complaint with a second group of journalists. It seems like a small step to start putting this episode behind HP.

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