All cubicle workers have stories about the time they hit "Reply All" instead of "Reply" and embarrassed themselves in the office. But in what might be the mother of all misdirected e-mail disasters, a lawyer representing drugmaker Eli Lilly in confidential settlement talks with the government had both Bradford Berenson, who is her co-counsel, and Alex Berenson, who is a New York Times reporter, in her address book. You can see where this is going.
Alex Berenson logged on to find an internal "very comprehensive document" about the negotiations, the consultant said, and on January 30, Berenson's article, "Lilly in Settlement Talks With U.S." appeared on the Times' website. A similar article followed the next day on the front page of the New York Times.
Those who knew the real story must have had a chuckle—or shed some tears—over Lilly's statement to the Times that it had "no intention of sharing those discussions [with the government] with the news media and it would be speculative and irresponsible for anyone to do so."
When reached for comment, Alex Berenson told Portfolio.com, "I can't say anything. I just can't."
Of course he can't. He's laughing too hard. Remember, everybody: Auto-fill is not always your friend.