Jeff Green, Bloomberg, September 24, 2014

It’s becoming a time-worn script. Company gets in trouble. Public gets upset. Company hires former head of three-letter agency or former prosecutor to get to the bottom of said trouble in thick report. Public forgives.

The National Football League’s decision to hire former FBI Director Robert Mueller to examine its handling of a player’s domestic violence case mimics companies such as General Motors Co. and BP Plc in hiring high-profile outsiders to blunt criticism by airing their dirty laundry. Demand for such investigations has spawned a multi-million business as 55 percent of companies last year said they had at least one internal investigation requiring the assistance of outside counsel, according to an April report on litigation trends by Norton Rose Fulbright.

The question is how impartial these investigation can really be — or, more broadly, how much truth do they want to find?

“It’s always a challenge when you’re trying to shine bright lights on what’s going on in dark rooms,” said Davia Temin, head of the New York-based crisis management firm Temin & Co. “The question always is, how far does the public blood-letting go?” […read more]