Why Does a War of Words in Business Make the Front Page?

On Friday, September 30, 2011, the Wall Street Journal’s interesting “Marketplace” section featured a 1/3 page spread entitled “War of Words” airing the dirty laundry between Oracle (the giant IT company) head Larry Ellison, Hewlett-Pakard, and a company H-P bought, Autonomy. The particulars of the argument over a deal are not relevant to this discussion. What is relevant is some of the language the men involved in the dispute used. Aside from the “war of words” title and the comment of “verbal potshots,” the WJS characterized the language as: having “reached a new level”; “hostile rhetoric”; and “choice language.” The WJS said “Oracle has been taking shots at H-P.” Now for the kill. Now I’m going to really excite you. What exactly was this hostile language that was sizzly enough to make the front page of a major section in this paper? Were foul words used? – No. What exactly was it that made the Wall St. Journal believe verbal abuse was going on? Well, Oracle suggested that his rival at Autonomy “has a very poor memory or he’s lying.” The opponent at Autonomy, responded to Oracle’s description of events as, “Interesting, but not true.” Wow! What? You’re not excited? This isn’t getting you gasping for breath? Why in Heaven not? Verbal Abuse Should Bother Us Oh. Because it’s no big deal – is that it? Then THAT’S the problem. I mean that’s YOUR problem. You see, it really is a big deal. This is not the way people should be talking to each other, whether in business or at home. If you are underwhelmed by what all the...
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