Feeds

MS makes Dow Jones eat ‘breakup clause’ story

It'd be even funnier if we hadn't followed it up ourselves...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

In a rare victory Microsoft seems to have Dow Jones Newswire on the floor in tears, and has extracted a grovelling apology and correction. Dow Jones had reported that new Microsoft contracts, apparently drawn up with the possibility of Judge Jackson deciding to smash the company into little pieces in mind, covered for the eventuality. Defeatist lawyering? Well no, because the contracts don't seem to have been anything of the kind. The contracts, in fact, as Dow Jones whimperingly admitted yesterday, weren't even one contract. And the clause wasn't even a clause. Nor was it inserted by Microsoft's lawyers. It was, er, included in a draft contract between Microsoft and, er, Dow Jones. The whole thing would be even funnier if The Register hadn't followed up the original Dow Jones story as well, but in mitigation we plead that it was a damn convincing one. The Dow Jones apology* doesn't specify the origin of the clause, but a gleeful Microsoft shows no mercy. Microsoft says that Dow Jones attorneys inserted the clause in the draft, and that Microsoft attorneys promptly chopped it out again. Swelling up to full Redmond Poison Toad size, Microsoft's statement thunders: "In addition, the fact that a draft legal document being negotiated between Microsoft and Dow Jones was apparently shared between the Dow Jones business and news divisions raises serious potential ethical and professional issues." Well content/archive/84-doody, there would appear to be evidence of a shocking breach of trust somewhere along the line. The Dow Jones correction says that the "Microsoft Contract Story Had Substantial Errors." But that doesn't really give you the full flavour of the original. It begins: "This time, Microsoft's lawyers may have gone too far." Then it explains the new clause, and gets an antitrust attorney to surmise that "it reflects careful lawyering on their part, but it reflects a recognition that certain things are in the realm of possibility." Scene nicely set, right? Then we get the Microsoft denial of knowledge of the clause, then (and this is one of the oldest gags in the book) the Redmond spokesperson is induced to speculate that Microsoft's business partners may have requested it.** The anonymous spokesperson is no doubt currently being dragged by the heels back and forth along Microsoft Way. But yes, then we have sign-off. Attorney Paul DeStafano is then quoted as saying that "clients of his were put at ease by [the clause's] presence." So there you have it. The original story puts Microsoft's lawyers in the frame from the off, then gets a plausible explanation from another source who was probably just commenting on what he heard from the reporter, nails the MS PR flack, then tacitly suggests this is a new standard contract by getting another attorney to effectively suggest that a number of his clients are participating in such contracts. We fear the reporter may be being dragged behind a chariot as well... * As Dow Jones has apologised, we should too. We're sorry, the story was wrong, but it was all Dow Jones' fault, OK? ** Register tip for PR spinmeisters: Sooner or later, some goddam journalist is going to phone you up claiming something you've never heard about but that is deeply damaging is now in the public domain, and is going to be plastered all over the papers unless you do something about it now. In the UK the classic example is Daily Mail vs Hackney Council press office, where the mug in the latter was persuaded to try to explain the new (and entirely imaginary) Hackney schools anti-racist policy which involved changing the nursery rhyme words to: "Ba, ba green sheep, have you any wool?" Explanation is confirmation - don't go down that road, spinmeister. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.