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HP Scandal Sucks in New York Times Columnist Over Conflict of Interest

Published on October 12, 2010
by John Paczkowski

Another reputation smeared in the Hewlett-Packard/Oracle slag-fest. Turns out Joe Nocera (pictured here)–the New York Times (NYT) business columnist who penned that scathing piece on former SAP chief and incoming Hewlett-Packard (HP) CEO Léo Apotheker for his involvement in a lawsuit over intellectual property theft between SAP (SAP) and Oracle (ORCL)–has a conflict of interest.

Nocera’s fiancée, Dawn Schneider, is director of communications for Boies, Schiller & Flexner, the law firm that just so happens to represent Oracle in its very same suit against SAP.

Here’s the editor’s note the Times just appended to Nocera’s story.

In the Talking Business column in Business Day on Saturday, Joe Nocera wrote about a lawsuit by Oracle against a division of SAP, claiming theft of intellectual property. Mr. Nocera learned after the column was published  that Oracle was represented by the law firm of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, where his fiancée works as director of communications. To avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, Mr. Nocera would not have written about the case if he had known of the law firm’s involvement.

Odd to learn that Nocera, the Times’ star business columnist, was unaware that his own fiancée was a flack for the law firm repping Oracle in the suit (see screenshot above, with Boies named as counsel) that provided so much of the subject matter for his column.

But it seems he was not, up to today, when he made a CNBC appearance on the subject.

It’s not clear when Nocera found out about his conflict of interest. His column on the Oracle-HP spat, however, has been the talk of Silicon Valley over the last several days, including a smack back at it by incoming HP Chairman Ray Lane in a letter to the Times’ editor.

Here’s a video of Nocera talking about his HP column on CNBC:

[Nocera photo credit: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times]

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