Larry Fink is a man who knows how important it is for large corporations to be socially responsible and adhere to best practices when it comes to corporate governance.
So important is it, that Larry penned a 1,500-word manifesto on the subject earlier this year, to cat-calls from pretty much everyone who read it.
Apparently, though, Larry’s passion for social responsibility and ethical leadership doesn’t apply to something like, say, strangling a dissident journalist to death and cutting up the still-warm body with a bone saw, because on Thursday, Fink said this about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi:
We don’t know who is responsible for the murder, as a government they took the responsibility that it was a murder, they are now claiming that it was a heinous act. Everybody has their own theories. Nothing is black or white.
That wildly unfortunate soundbite came during remarks Fink delivered at the New York Times DealBook conference, and let me be the hundredth person today to reiterate that Khashoggi’s murder is about as “black and white” as “black and white” gets.
Khashoggi was a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, so Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had him killed. That’s just all there is to it.
As far as the “everybody has their own theories” bit is concerned, I’m going to give this one to Vanity Fair’s Bess Levin, because she’s (almost) as good at what I do as I am, and I’m not sure I could make this any funnier. To wit, from her latest daily column (which you can subscribe to here):
“We don’t know who is responsible for the murder,” Fink said at the New York Times DealBook conference on Thursday. “Everybody has their own theories.” It’s true! Saudi Arabia—whose story concerning the killing has now changed multiple times—says M.B.S. had nothing to do with it . . . and then you have everyone else. Saying “everybody has their own theories” about this, in other words, is like saying, “everybody has their own theories about whether or not we actually landed on the moon. Lucid, reasonable people believe we did, and crackpot conspiracy theorists think the government is lying to us about it like it always does. Who’s to say who’s right?”
I would add one bit of nuance. There are several “theories” about exactly what happened to the body. When Turkish intelligence first leaked the details of an audio tape they say documents Khashoggi’s torture and dismemberment, we employed the worst kind of macabre humor in the course of advancing two theories:
At this point, it is a near certainty that Khashoggi is not only dead, but extra dead, where that means his body parts have probably been dissolved in acid or else buried in Consul-general Mohammad al-Otaibi’s yard.
Last week, after the Saudis reversed course for a third time, admitting that Khashoggi’s killing was in fact premeditated, it became apparent that Erdogan was in fact looking around in al-Otaibi’s garden.
Fast forward to Thursday and guess what? This, from the Washington Post:
A senior Turkish official said in an interview that Turkish authorities are pursuing a theory that Khashoggi’s dismembered body was destroyed in acid on the grounds of the Saudi Consulate or at the nearby residence of the Saudi consul general. Biological evidence discovered in the consulate garden supports the theory that Khashoggi’s body was disposed of close to where he was killed and dismembered, the official said.
“Khashoggi’s body was not in need of burying,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive investigation.
So Larry is right about one thing: There are at least two “theories” in play here, one of which holds that Khashoggi’s arms and legs are still retrievable, while the other suggests he was liquified and dumped down al-Otaibi’s garden well. It wasn’t immediately clear where Larry stands on that.
In any event, Fink is now the laughing stock of the financial universe to the extent it’s funny when somebody pretends to not know what everybody else knows about a dismemberment.
Meanwhile, the Saudis are reportedly bombing Yemen again on Thursday despite U.S. calls for a cease fire.
Of course if Washington was really serious about alleviating the suffering in Yemen, one thing Trump could try is canceling that $110 billion arms deal with bin Salman, because you know, it’s pretty hard to claim you’re all for peace when you’re selling the aggressor weapons of war.