The New York Times tells us the law firms GM hired to conduct an internal investigation related to ignition defects have worked before on the company’s behalf. This, in the public’s eye, can stall the internal investigation’s perception before it starts.
Internal investigations in general already face skepticism. The very concept would have us believe companies would allow their investigators to potentially publicly reveal information so damaging, it would further empower plaintiffs and send stock prices sinking. Will the public believe the same companies, when accused of villainous actions, would suddenly detail in good faith those actions in their entirety without sugar-coating? Imagine Bob the attorney telling Bill the executive, “I know we have enjoyed those steak dinners together, but I need to now tell the world you’re morally bankrupt. Have a nice day.”
So why employ law firms, which because of their previous working relationship, might erode to even the slightest degree the trust in an internal investigation? True, those law firms might have superb track records and a motivation to appear objective. But consider some Americans don’t even believe the news they read because they don’t trust the source. For example, even if Fox News delivered a fact-driven, well researched investigation, many liberals just wouldn’t buy it. And the same goes for those conservatives who disavow stories from The New York Times despite its historical record of strong journalism. The source of the information often holds more weight than the information itself.
For this reason, why risk using law firms the public might question even before the attorneys bill the first hour? Otherwise, we might just as well wait for what the Justice Department turns up.