That’s a Nice Bridge You Got There; It Would Be a Shame If Anything Happened to It

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The Risk Tip is apolitical.  It doesn’t campaign; endorse causes or candidates; or even vote.  Nor does The Risk Tip enjoy picking on political figures of any particular persuasion.  That said, The Risk Tip can’t ignore the current Garden State kerfuffle, which has been in the news following disclosure of emails like this one:


As John Stewart noted (see 4:20 to 4:44 in this clip), putting aside the merits of the scandal, there’s just something particularly disappointing in the lack of creativity in this email traffic.  For our purposes, just consider this the most recent example of user regret about putting something in an email.  Remember this one? 


Much was made of this email at the time, which was claimed to have been a coded signal for Andersen to destroy documents.  Interestingly, one news report said that the jury did not agree.  “The shredding itself was not the issue, jurors said. They were convinced that it was not intended to hinder a government inquiry but was a good-faith, if misguided, effort to comply with internal policies at the accounting firm.”  Rather, “the jurors focused on how Andersen employees revised an internal memorandum on Enron’s earnings release,” looking at other internal emails like this:


From this, according to the report, the jury concluded that the inhouse lawyer was the “corrupt persuader … who intended to hinder a government investigation of Enron’s finances.”  As a student of the Enron-Andersen failure — The Risk Tip enjoyed both the book and the movie — we’ve always thought this latter email contained some sound advice, but when presented on a big screen, and pointed at by an angry prosecutor, one jury thought that the lawyer and her client was up to no good. 

Just another lesson to all of us, even when we’re engaged in the most lofty pursuits:  Is email the right medium for the message?