Goldman Shareholders Meeting Either Boring or a Wacky Carnival

The New York Times paints a much more lively picture than the Journal

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Goldman Sachs held its annual shareholders meeting this morning (in boring old Jersey City, as opposed to the company's sexy Manhattan headquarters). It was a "dull" affair, according to The Wall Street Journal--so low-key and colorless that "it was perhaps fortunate for the masses" that it "wasn't live streamed on the Web."

But wait! The New York Times live-blogged the meeting, and judging by their account, it was just one step removed from an open-mic night at the Chuckle Hut. There were needling nuns, disgruntled onetime applicants, and a sassy octogenarian openly flirting with CEO Lloyd Blankfein. Were the Times and the Journal watching the same meeting?

The Journal reports that "attendance was fairly thin," though it later says that the room could seat "about 300" and was "about 70% full," so that's about 210 attendees by our math. A second Journal write-up calls the meeting "mostly subdued" and leads with the news that Goldman Sachs spent over $700 million on legal counsel last year.

Plucked from the Journal reports, here are a pair of what would sound like backhand compliments if they appeared in any other paper: "Only one shareholder called for Mr. Blankfein to leave the company" (from here), and "Another positive sign: It seems no one mistakenly referred to the Goldman CEO as 'Blank Lloydfein' -- an unfortunate but perhaps Freudian slip from a shareholder at the 2010 annual meeting" (from here).

The Times's coverage, by contrast, is dominated by Evelyn Davis, a feisty 81-year-old advocate (and Holocaust survivor, and multimillionaire) who's a sort of professional thorn in the side at shareholder meetings. At today's conference, Davis told Blankfein that he was "not a bad looking guy"; then she told company president Gary Cohn he'd wasted money by attending the World Economic Forum in Switzerland; then she told Lloyd Blankfein that she sometimes calls him "Lord Goldmine"; then she asked after Blankfein's wife. None of this made it into the Journal reports.

The Times quoted another shareholder, a spurned applicant to Goldman, who said a former Goldman employee had told him it was "a disgusting place." (The Journal notes that the rejected applicant spoke, but omits the "disgusting" quote.) And the Times notes a proposal from a group of shareholders, including the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston, for Goldman to "initiate a review of its senior executive compensation policies"--which the Goldman board predictably did not endorse. (The Journal mentions the nuns and quotes one of them, who said: "Execs have amassed untold wealth while a billion people suffer from poverty and food insecurity.")

The Times liveblog wraps up with one last quip from Blankfein. Asked why he was staying with the company, Blankfein joked, "Why would I leave and give all this up."

Pictured: Evelyn Davis. Photo by Reuters.

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