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Update and Commentary on HP scandal

The AP and other news outlets are reporting that Hewlett Packard’s board of directors adjourned an emergency phone meeting yesterday (Sept. 10) without announcing whether it would oust Chairwoman Patricia Dunn (pictured) for ordering an investigation that may have used illegal means to spy on colleagues and journalists. The board of the Palo Alto comany was scheduled to meet this afternoon. Here’s a wrap-up of the weekend’s developments in this scandal along with a list of the nine reporters whose phone records were obtained by HP investigators.

Meanwhile, here is a sampling of commentary on the HP scandal

• CNET News.com’s Charles Cooper: “When you reach Dunn’s level of accomplishment, it’s assumed you know right from wrong. If you can’t meet that minimum qualification, the job should go to someone else.”

MarketWatch’s Herb Greenberg says he was a victim of pretexting two years ago. He said he thinks he knows which company is behind it, and he reported it to the FBI. “Don’t you think if I misrepresented myself or hired a pretexter to get phone records of a company, I’d be sued? You bet I’d be. I’d also be fired. … It crosses the line for both sides. That, dear readers, is why I can’t just let it go. And neither should you.”

Merc’s Mike Langberg: “The spying scandal is a step backward that can only begin to be fixed if Dunn departs.”

• Russell Shaw, ZDNET blogger: “I have news for you, Patricia Dunn. Reporters and bloggers feel a duty to find out news about the companies, politicians, and issues we cover. That’s called freedom of the press. … And if you can’t enforce board secrecy in the way that some of your competitors are quite adept at doing, it is not our problem. If a board member takes it even further by telling tales to us out of school, that’s not our problem, either. It’s yours.”

• TheStreet.com’s Marek Fuchs: “When a story seems too weird for words, rest assured that there will be a lot of them to come. Investors have to be careful. The public generally had never heard of this ‘pretexting,’ a practice where imposters get phone record information to help plug leaks to the press, so who knows what’s involved? But you know questions will be swirling for at least a week, even if nothing new is found. And if something new is found? Well, it usually is. In these strange stories, the public generally learns the truth only one way … slowly.”

(Denver) Rocky Mountain News’s Rob Reuteman: “From now on we will operate on the assumption that the companies we cover, if they become desperate enough, will be able to access our phone records. Several probably already have, or at least our level of suspicion for all companies is now a little higher.”

• Houston Chronicle’s Loren Steffy: “(Dunn) ordered the investigation, she’d briefed the board on it, she knew (board member Tom) Perkins’ resignation wasn’t properly disclosed. Ultimately, she was in charge of it all. Board confidentiality was important, she said. But she’d paid for it with the company’s integrity.”

TheStreet.com’s Bill Snyder: “Beating up on Hewlett-Packard Chairwoman Patty Dunn is easy. She obviously blew it. But the larger — and sadder — truth is that no one on HP’s board is coming out of this looking good, and that includes ex-director Tom Perkins, as well as loose-lipped leaker George Keyworth … it’s worth noting that nearly every governance advocate I spoke with in the last few days was critical of Perkins — not because he blew the whistle, but because he took so long to do it.”

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