Meg Whitman Tests Media's Celeb-CEO Myth

Calif. voters to decide if ex-eBay honcho was really a rock star
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2009 3:09 PM CDT
Meg Whitman Tests Media's Celeb-CEO Myth
Former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman speaks at a news conference at the California Republican Convention in Indian Wells, Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009.   (AP Photo/Francis Specker)

For years Meg Whitman has benefited from the sycophantic business media’s lionization of the CEO. Throughout the boom years, “CEOs were pretty much automatically rock stars,” writes Simon Dumenco for Advertising Age. “If they banked a billion or more, the thinking went, they must have been doing something right—right?” Now Whitman is running for governor of California, and the boom years seem long ago. Will voters still believe in "the omnipotence of the Celebrity CEO?"

Republicans, who claim to hate the press, “will gladly trade on the media-created mythology” surrounding her CEO days. But now voters, suddenly suspicious of billionaires, will be asking, as the media didn’t, if she was really that great. She made eBay into a huge company but made plenty of missteps—cough, Skype, cough—along the way. Ultimately, her record is distorted by “the funhouse mirrors of the boom years.” (More Meg Whitman stories.)

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