Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room to have TV debut on PBS with new footage
Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room, the Academy Award-nominated documentary from 2005 that tells the story of the Enron scandal, will be featured on PBS' Independent Lens showcase on April 24 at 10:00 p.m. The televised version also features a new conversation from January 2007 with co-authors Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, two Fortune reporters who wrote the book The Smartest Guys in the Room, on which the documentary is based.
I'll admit I never followed the Enron story very closely because my feeble layperson's brain couldn't quite grasp the myriad details of the story. This documentary, however, does a superb job of not only laying things out in a clear manner, but of also exposing what happens when people with great power find themselves ruled by greed rather than any semblance of a moral code.
In the new conversation that follows the film, McLean gives her own take on how a major company like Enron can wind up in the position it did:
I think it speaks in some ways to the nature of white collar fraud, which is almost never people sitting in a dark room coming up with a way to cheat investors. It's a gradual process where people are short of what they promised Wall Street one quarter, short of earnings, and they figure out a way to stretch the rules to make the picture a little prettier than it would be otherwise. But the whole process is accompanied by rationalizations and self-delusions that by the time they're caught or it all blows up they really don't believe they've done anything wrong anymore.