James B. Stewart '73 Discusses Wall Street Prosecutions on CNBC

James B. Stewart '73 Discusses Wall Street Prosecutions on CNBC

October 31, 2003

October 31, 2003, Greencastle, Ind. - Is the so-called "Wall Street clean-up squad," led by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, being too aggressive in going after former Tyco executive Dennis Kozlowski and others accused of corporate malfeasance? That was the question placed before Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author and 1973 DePauw University graduate James B. Stewart. He and Spitzer were among the guests Wednesday evening on the CNBC program Topic [A] with Tina Brown.

Audio Link[DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "Too Far?" 851KB] "There certainly was a moment, I think it has passed, but there was a moment when there was tremendous fear, and from legitimate quarters, that maybe Eliot was going too far," Stewart, the author of Blood Sport and Den of Thieves, said. "I mean, when you had Citicorp under investigation and kind of teetering and J.P. Morgan under investigation; Arthur Andersen had been snuffed out. You have these major institutions -- whatever individuals in them have done-- form the backbone of the American financial system, and suddenly it seemed like all of them were under investigation at once. And that, I think, scared a lot of people... At this point, I think people want to see real people -- they want to see some scalps. They want to see a day of reckoning for all this misconduct, but they don't necessarily want to see huge institutions that employ tens of thousands of people -- and, by the way, may also be the repository of their savings -- being pushed out of business by aggressive prosecutions."

During the interview segment, which lasted about fifteen minutes, Stewart, a member of DePauw's Board of Trustees, offered that in some cases, you could argue that prosecutors have been aiming at the wrong targets. Video Link [DOWNLOAD VIDEO: "Not Far Enough" 1500KB] "Some of these directors should be under investigation for their negligence or gross negligence. And some of the high ranking people at the core of the major scandals like Enron need to be publicly prosecuted, not necessarily these fringe cases that we're getting now like Frank Quattrone and one e-mail and Martha Stewart and possible obstruction of justice. These are not the individuals who were at the core of these scandals the last few years and we haven't yet seen the prosecutions of the people who have been."

The former front page editor of the Wall Street Journal (where he received a Pulitzer Prize for articles on the 1987 stock market crash and the insider-trading scandal) and current editor-at-large of SmartMoney magazine and reporter-at-large for the New Yorker, James B. Stewart's latest book is Heart of a Soldier: A Story of Love, Heroism, and September 11th. Named "Best Non-fiction Book of 2002" by TIME magazine, Stewart discussed the book during a speech at DePauw in April. Read more by clicking here and here.