From Capitol Hill to Playboy: Jessie Jackson accelerates the fall of the Enron Employees

Boy do I feel sorry for the employees of Enron. From the start they have gotten the shaft, in increasing degrees, commencing from the time that the company stock started to dip to the time the Hefner family took over. When congressional hearings started, Ken Lay was putting his vacation properties on the block, and the press was sniffing for a political scandal- things were really beginning to look good for the employees, many of whom lost their life savings. Proceedings started out nicely, but in a classic case of a few bad apples ruining the bushel, the vast majority of the employees get left behind in the dust.

It all started with an inquisition on Capitol Hill. There were seven congressional hearings scheduled in as many days. Tom Daschle was issuing daily news briefs and there were speeches on the steps of the Capitol, you know the official ones with several members standing rank and file, shoulder to shoulder, with an occasional across-the-isle-member thrown in for good measure. It looked like the employees of Enron were in good hands. Then the political scandal fizzled. The employees and their needs fell off the radar.

Then things started to change. Jessie Jackson stepped in. The Rainbow Coalition was to come to rescue the wronged employees. I follow the news pretty closely, and I can’t even tell you what happened with that. Last I heard, a few months ago, I thought Jessie was to lead a march all the way to Washington demanding “action”. In typical media style, after creating the initial buzz in the first place, Media Inc. showed Jessie (the camera was panned in very closely so you could only see people around him, making it very difficult to see the real size of the crowd) leading a group in rhyming chants and shouting- then we never heard of it again. The short attention span of the American public moved on to something else as Jessie set his eyes on a bigger prize, extorting money from General Electric. It fell off the radar, again.

Now we hear that Playboy wants to put a spread in their pages titled the “Women of Enron”. I can’t imagine that things could get any worse than this. But wait, Playgirl wants to do a spread titled, as if you need a title, “Men of Enron”. In a strange twist, Ken Lay and Jeffery Skilling had to bare all testifying before Congress, now some employees of Enron are to do the same thing in the pages of dirty magazines.

In another bizarre twist the women (and men) of Enron have chosen to exercise their first amendment right to free speech posing for pics in a magazine and the very downfall of Enron yielded to the passing of a campaign finance reform bill that is an attack on free speech. Striking how the innocence lost over the whole deal has been well chronicled. A few Enron employees sold short the cause of gaining justice for the wrong doings of some financial snake oil salesmen and sought relief at the hands of the lowest common denominator. Starting at what one would assume was a highpoint for the employees- hearings on Capitol Hill then nose diving to the presumed low on the pages of Playboy left the average employee in a lurch. In our culture though, some may feel, quite sadly, that the high point of the affair will be in a centerfold.

Stephen A. McDonald

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