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Defaming Frank Quattrone
Aug 01, 2010
Defaming Frank Quattrone--Again. Someday, I should like to assemble a book comprising nothing but the libels and slanders against capitalists that have become a permanent feature of our history books. Among them would be: that J.P. Morgan sold flawed rifles to the Union Army, that John D. Rockefeller cheated the Widow Backus--and that Frank Quattrone ordered his subordinates to "clean up those files." The latest instance of this last falsehood comes in a book review, published in the Summer 2010 Exeter Bulletin, of Phillips Exeter Academy. It is a review of the biography of Frank Quattrone, The Prince of Silicon Valley, written by Randall Smith (Exeter '68), and it is penned by Phillips Exeter grad Stephen Wolfe (Class of '99).
According to information provided in Wolfe's review, he joined Quattrone's firm, Credit Suisse, as an investment banker in 2004, the year after Quattrone was forced to resign from CFSB. Nevertheless, Wolfe says, he attended the summation of Quattrone's first trial and there reconnected with his fellow "Exonian," Randall Smith. Despite all this apparent familiarity with the Quattrone case, Wolfe tells his readers what is absolutely false: "Federal prosecutors latched onto one ill-timed email that Quattrone had sent out to his team infamously instructing them that it was 'time to clean up those files.'"
That is incorrect. But it is not merely incorrect, it is incorrect in the most important possible way. The email that suggested it was "time to clean up those files" was sent by a colleague of Frank Quattrone, one who had absolutely no knowledge of any investigation into the dealings of Credit Suisse First Boston. It was sent simply because the year was coming to an end; the holiday season was approaching; people were leaving on vacation; and company policy called for the cleaning up of files. In short, it was an email that we know, for a certain fact, was sent in perfect innocence. To say that was sent by Frank Quattrone is a flat falsehood, and thus to reason that Quattrone had some malign motive in sending it is a complete fallacy.
Wolfe begins his review with the pontification: “Goodness without knowledge is weak and feeble, yet knowledge without goodness is dangerous.” So, what shall we say of smugness based on lies?