Here is the story about me that appeared on the front page of The New York Times on March 28, 2018. It is rife with inaccuracies and omissions. Nonetheless, I was fired soon after it ran.
A few months later I sat down with the reporter, Emily Flitter. I walked her through my story and the primary documents that contradicted many of the allegations in the article. I explained that this was not a case of abuse but, put simply, the story of a bad divorce. Ms. Flitter told me that she believed that Traci showed a pattern of obsession and fixation towards me – something that I have known for years. But, confoundingly, Ms. Flitter still relied on Traci as the only real source for the articles. When pressed about correcting or writing a follow up article, I was told by Ms. Flitter, “So I can tell you right now I am not doing a story about Traci and her flaws, which I totally understand are significant.”
Ultimately, Ms. Flitter conceded that I made valid points, but she and her editor refused to update the story online, or to write a new one.
Ms. Flitter was new to The Times, and this was her first front page story. I believe she strained to inflate my importance within the wealth-management industry and inaccurately placed my behavior within the #MeToo movement, for which The Times was about to win a Pulitzer Prize, to justify such a prominent feature in the paper. I believe in #MeToo and have always treated everyone I work with, and who works with me, with the utmost respect. But printing false information about me does nothing to further the legitimate goals of the #MeToo movement.
Here is Ms. Flitter’s story in its entirety, annotated with primary sources to highlight her errors and omissions.
By Emily Flitter The New York Times Published on March 28, 2018
Over 15 years, four women in Lake Oswego, Ore., a wealthy Portland suburb, sought police protection against the same man, court filings show.
“He threatened to burn down my house with me in it,” one woman wrote in her application for a restraining order. xMAJOR OMISSION: It is true that there were restraining orders taken out against me. But the accusations were false, misleading and/or unsubstantiated - which is confirmed by the court's dismissal of all of the restraining orders. Yet the article blatantly omits the fact that they were dismissed. Instead, the phrasing suggests they were still in place. Had this crucial fact been included it would have changed the whole thrust of the story; to leave that fact out was, to my mind, a grave journalistic sin. This is a correctable error.Source Documents - Dismissals “I don’t know what he’s going to do next,” a second wrote. “He choked me so hard it left a mark on my throat,” xCLARIFICATION: The truth is, this took place years before my divorce and, was the result of consensual experiences that took place in the bedroom. Not once did I ever leave a mark on Traci and there is no corroborating evidence supporting her statement. wrote another. “He is scaring my children and me,” a fourth woman said.
Yet the man, Douglas E. Greenberg, remains one of Morgan Stanley’s top financial advisers — and a celebrated member of the wealth management industry xCLARIFICATION: Throughout the story, Ms. Flitter attempts to build me up as a larger-than-life character to justify the story’s placement on the front page. Yes, I was successful but that was because I worked hard and treated our clients with respect. I was hardly world-renowned.
For years, Morgan Stanley executives knew about his alleged conduct, seven former Morgan Stanley employees. xCLARIFICATION: This sentence merely means that people knew there were allegations against me, not that those allegations were true. However, despite using the word “alleged,” Ms. Flitter is suggesting in this sentence that the allegations have merit.
Morgan Stanley received a federal subpoena related to one abuse allegation, according to a lawyer for one of the women. xMEDIUM ERROR: I don’t believe this is true. Neither the branch manager, the head compliance officer nor I were aware of any subpoena being served on my office. It is suspicious, to me at least, that Ms. Flitter learned this fact from a lawyer for one of the women, and not from any federal source. In another instance, a Morgan Stanley manager alerted his superior when Mr. Greenberg was charged with violating a restraining order, according to three former employees. xClarification: The use of anonymous sources is sometimes necessary but is frowned upon at The Times and other serious news organizations. Ms. Flitter also fails to note that no court has ever found I violated a restraining order because I haven't. . Another manager at the firm liked and replied to a Facebook post by one of Mr. Greenberg’s ex-wives xCLARIFICATION: This is Traci. The phrasing, “one of Mr. Greenberg’s ex-wives,” implies that it is not her – why not say so, since she’s mentioned in the very first caption in this story? I think it is to give the sense that more than one woman is driving the accusations against me. Also, Traci's social media posts do not include any corroborating evidence. in which she described his abuse. On yet another occasion, an official from the bank’s New York headquarters flew to Portland to investigate, two former employees said.
Despite this information, Morgan Stanley apparently took no action against Mr. Greenberg. xMAJOR ERROR: Morgan Stanley conducted a fulsome investigation and determined that the accusations did not warrant serious sanctions. He is still an employee and a member of the elite “Chairman’s Club,” which recognizes brokers who not only are top producers but also meet certain “conduct and compliance standards.”
The wealth management division in which Mr. Greenberg works represents the future of Morgan Stanley. xCLARIFICATION: Here Ms. Flitter adds a “big thought” to the story to justify the play it got. Linking me to the future of Morgan Stanley feels like quite a stretch. The company’s chief executive, James P. Gorman, wants the division to supplant the volatile investment banking and trading businesses that until recently were the bank’s profit engines. Wealth management now accounts for nearly half of the bank’s total revenue.
Mr. Greenberg is in the top 2 percent of brokers at the firm by revenue produced. Last month, he made a Forbes list of Oregon’s top wealth managers. xCLARIFICATION: Yes, I’m one of Oregon’s top wealth managers. Again – I respectfully believe Ms. Flitter is reaching to make me sound more important than I am. Oregon, as I’m sure you’d imagine, is considered a small market as compared to New York or Los Angeles. I earned the Forbes designation because of my expertise, commitment and professionalism in working with clients to help solve their financial goals through a comprehensive, planning based process.
This week, after The New York Times contacted Morgan Stanley with questions about Mr. Greenberg, the bank put him on “administrative leave pending further review of this situation,” said a Morgan Stanley spokeswoman, Christy Jockle. “We are committed to maintaining a safe and professional work environment and will take appropriate action based on the facts of the matter.”
Reached on his cellphone this week, Mr. Greenberg said he had no comment. “It’s interesting that a reporter from New York would somehow have all this information just on her own,” he said. He did not respond to additional detailed requests for comment xCLARIFICATION: At the time of the request by the reporter, I was bound by corporate policy and unable to answer the reporters questions.Source Document
Since claims of sexual harassment in the workplace ignited the #MeToo movement last year, companies have been struggling to handle accusations against star employees. xCLARIFICATION: Again, Ms. Flitter is trying to inflate my importance, and trying to link my story to the #MeToo movement. I strongly reject the connection. This is the story of a bad divorce. It has nothing to do with #MeToo. Soon after this story, The Times won a much-deserved Pulitzer Prize for its #MeToo coverage. Fox News, for example, granted a four-year contract extension to the anchor Bill O’Reilly soon after he paid $32 million to settle a sexual harassment claim against him. xCLARIFICATION: I’m not comparable to Bill O’Reilly in any way.
Morgan Stanley has wrestled with the issue, too. Late last year, the bank fired a top investment banking executive, Harold E. Ford Jr., after hearing accusations that he had engaged in misconduct. The bank later said that Mr. Ford, a former Tennessee congressman, was not fired for sexual harassment. Mr. Ford has denied any wrongdoing.
None of the women Mr. Greenberg is said to have abused were employed by Morgan Stanley. But employees in the finance industry — especially those who manage money for clients — are judged in part on their character. That puts the onus on companies, and regulators, to police their conduct even outside the office.
Financial advisers like Mr. Greenberg have to share certain information about themselves publicly, under rules intended to help investors find trustworthy money managers. For example, brokers have to inform the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, known as Finra, if they declare bankruptcy or are charged with any felony or with a misdemeanor related to money.
But there is just as much information that does not have to be disclosed — and that means that people with checkered histories can continue to thrive in the industry.
On Finra’s website, each broker’s history is displayed in a vertical timeline, with red dots marking the date of each trouble spot.
There are five red dots on Mr. Greenberg’s timeline. They represent a 1984 charge, eventually dismissed, of theft by check; a 2001 charge of criminal mischief in the first degree, also dismissed; two disputes with clients; and a regulatory penalty xCLARIFICATION: I don’t understand why Ms. Flitter reveals here that a charge was dismissed but decided to omit that the restraining orders against me were also dismissed years ago. Further, one of the “disputes” mentioned here and the regulatory penalty were from the same client episode. The other client complaint was dismissed as having no merit almost immediately. .
But that record does not reveal Mr. Greenberg’s other run-ins with law enforcement and the judicial system, which are not required to be disclosed to Finra.
In 2000, Mr. Greenberg admitted in an arbitration proceeding that he had phoned someone who did a lot of business with a colleague and told him, inaccurately, that the colleague was known for shady business practices, according to a record of the proceeding. Mr. Greenberg was not punished for what the three-person arbitration panel deemed was defamation because the statute of limitations had expired, the panel said in its decision. xCLARIFICATION: The arbitration panel ruled against the colleague. My comments were accurate.
In December 2006, Mr. Greenberg was charged with harassment and criminal mischief, according to court papers and a police blotter item in The Lake Oswego Review. He had violated a restraining order taken out by his ex-girlfriend, xMEDIUM OMISSION: The court did not find that I violated the restraining order. What had I done? I’d left gifts by the mailbox for my ex’s children, with whom I had become close over the course of our 2 1⁄2 year relationship. with whom I’d been very close. I realize now this was foolish and wrong. But the reality was far different than the scary motives described here. I think more details should have been included to give the proper balance the Times readers expect. , the second woman to ask for protection against him, according to the court papers. Mr. Greenberg eventually pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespass and agreed to limitations on his movements, according to a plea deal reviewed by The Times.
And eight years later, Mr. Greenberg was charged with violating another restraining order taken out by a different ex-girlfriend. The woman, Anne Cost, had obtained the order xMAJOR ERROR: A judge dismissed her order, stating, “She does not appear to be a person who is abused as contemplated by the Family Abuse Prevention Act (FAPA).” against Mr. Greenberg after, she said, he threatened to burn down her house. Now, she told the police, Mr. Greenberg was menacing her again, trailing her in his car. xCLARIFICATION: We both live in the same small town, living less than a mile from each other, and I was told later that I inadvertently pulled up behind her in stop-and-go traffic at a downtown intersection one morning not realizing that she was near me. The judge dismissed the order, no charges were ever filed. Why didn't the reporter share this information in order to be accurate in her reporting?
“You could have placed a pizza box between her back bumper and Mr. Greenberg’s front bumper he was so close to her,” a Lake Oswego police officer, John J. Brent, wrote in his report of the incident, which was reviewed by The Times. xMAJOR ERROR: First of all, the officer didn’t say this – Ms. Cost said this to the officer. This major mistake suggests that the incident was investigated, and an official determination was made. This is a correctable error. Secondly, as I said, the encounter was on a crowded downtown intersection, during the morning rush hour commute, not on the winding portion of the road pictured. Source Document Ms. Cost declined to comment.
After that September 2014 arrest, Mr. Greenberg’s mug shot appeared online in a report about the arrest. Morgan Stanley employees in Seattle and Portland shared it via text messages and emails, according to the seven former Morgan Stanley employees, most of whom said they did not want to be identified because they feared retribution by Mr. Greenberg or the bank.
“Everybody knew,” said Jani Beatty, a former vice president at Morgan Stanley’s private bank. She added, “I considered him my friend until I understood the full extent of his actions against his intimate partners.”
When he learned of the arrest, Paul Amsbury, a Morgan Stanley branch manager and Mr. Greenberg’s boss, passed information about it, including the mug shot, to Curtis Peterson, the firm’s Pacific Coast regional director, in San Francisco, according to Ms. Beatty and two other former bank employees. Mr. Amsbury’s message: Mr. Greenberg was not fit to represent Morgan Stanley and should be dismissed. xCLARIFICATION: This section is key. It proves I was investigated. I believe that the fact that I was not fired means they did not discover grounds to fire me – which indeed they did not. Ms. Flitter phrases this whole section in such a way that the implication is that I was let off easy when I should have been dismissed. I believe it proves the opposite: they aggressively investigated these actions, and after giving me two modest letters, let me continue to serve my clients. I believe this proves my innocence.
Mr. Amsbury declined to comment. Mr. Peterson did not respond to requests for comment.
After Mr. Amsbury flagged the arrest, a high-ranking compliance official from Morgan Stanley’s New York offices flew to Portland to meet with Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Amsbury, the former employees said. xCLARIFICATION: Again, this proves they took the allegations very seriously and left no stone unturned during the 3-month investigation. (Ms. Beatty, who worked in a separate business line in Mr. Greenberg’s office, said she did not recall the visit.)
Morgan Stanley officials soon were confronted with more issues involving Mr. Greenberg.
In June 2015, his second ex-wife, Traci Williams, wrote a series of Facebook posts that described her ex-husband’s alleged physical and verbal abuse. The posts did not name Mr. Greenberg, but there was little doubt about whom she was referring to. Her friends commented on the posts and criticized Mr. Greenberg by name. And a lawyer for Mr. Greenberg complained about the posts to Ms. Williams’s lawyer.
Among the commenters was Alex Burlingame, a Morgan Stanley manager in Seattle who had worked with Mr. Greenberg for years. He “liked” the post and added a personal message: “Hang in there, Traci! So sorry to see that one acts this way. Nancy and I r thinking of you!”
Mr. Burlingame did not respond to requests for comment.
That summer, Ms. Williams said she started receiving what she perceived to be threatening letters in the mail. “I CAN SEE YOU,” read one message made up of letters cut out from magazines. She reported the harassment to the Portland police, who opened an investigation. Their main suspect was Mr. Greenberg, according to emails between Ms. Williams, her lawyer and a Portland police officer that were reviewed by The Times. xMAJOR OMISSION: I didn’t send those letters. This occurred three years before this story was written. I was never charged with any crime – I wasn’t even interviewed about this episode. If I was a suspect, it was only because Traci identified me as one, but it is quite clear the case never went anywhere.
The police eventually turned the case over to federal prosecutors, according to a July 2015 email to Ms. Williams from the Portland police officer. The United States Postal Inspection Service was also part of the investigation. xMAJOR OMISSION: Shouldn’t there be one more sentence in this paragraph: “But no arrests were ever made, and Mr. Greenberg was never questioned.” Again, at the risk of repeating myself, this three-year-old investigation obviously went nowhere. It should say that. These statements contradict the New York Times Guidelines on Integrity, their Ethical Journalism Handbook and the Standards and Ethics, Assuring Our Credibility Guide, all posted online.
One day in early 2016, federal authorities showed up at Mr. Greenberg’s Morgan Stanley office to serve a subpoena related to the investigation, according to Edie Rogoway, Ms. Williams’s lawyer. On March 1, Greg Nyhus, an assistant United States attorney, said in an email to Ms. Rogoway, reviewed by The Times, that his office was reviewing documents obtained from several subpoenas. xMAJOR OMISSION: But nothing ever came of this and I was never charged with anything. Ms. Flitter’s writing suggests throughout that the fact that I wasn’t charged suggests the ball was dropped; I say it suggests the opposite – clearly a very thorough investigation found I’d done nothing wrong despite these false allegations. No one in Portland branch management was aware of any subpoena being served on my office.
A spokesman for Mr. Nyhus’s office declined to comment.
Ms. Williams, meanwhile, asked her lawyer to complain to Morgan Stanley that Mr. Greenberg was making it hard for her to access her children’s Morgan Stanley wealth management accounts. xCLARIFICATION: This was a simple communication error. I transferred the accounts to the Morgan Stanley Call Center when we separated because it was the ethical, proper thing to do. As this document shows, I did nothing to make it “hard” for her to access the accounts.. Source Document - MS Response to Williams
Ms. Rogoway said she spoke to a Morgan Stanley lawyer, Bernard Kornmehl, about the accounts. Mr. Kornmehl declined to comment.
She said she told him that Mr. Greenberg had a history of abusing women.
Later that day, Ms. Rogoway emailed Ms. Williams about the conversation. She reported that Mr. Kornmehl had said that “many sides” were aware of Mr. Greenberg’s alleged history.
MAJOR ERROR: It is unclear what this box of materials shows. Is this a staged photo-illustration in contravention of NYT policy? Or is it supposed to truly show the material I was accused of sending my ex? If it is the latter then it is wildly inaccurate and misleading, because I never sent my ex any threatening letters, not by a long shot.
MEDIUM ERROR: This not an accurate representation of the encounter with my ex-girlfriend. I was not “trailing her closely,” I inadvertently ended up behind her at a congested intersection in my small town. This photo is also of the wrong place – it was a busy intersection, not a secluded winding road. The Times seemingly used this inaccurate photo to advance her false and preconceived narrative that I was “stalking” an ex-girlfriend.