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Is this a sentimental documentary erring on the side of historical
rewrite or a healing probe into the aftermath of the World Trade Center
tragedy? Bearing in mind its focus is on what happened within one
company in the aftermath of the fall of the Twin Towers, we debate over
whether this doc gets it right.
The background is that Cantor Fitzgerald, L.P. is a financial services
firm founded in 1945. At the time of the attacks, the firm had grown to
be one of the largest, if not the largest, bond trading firms in
America. It had more than 5,000 institutional clients, being one of
only 21 firms that traded US bonds with The Federal Reserve Bank of New
York. It was located on the doomed 101-106 floors of the World Trade
Howard Lutnick, the focus of our dissension in this doc review, was
named President and CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald in 1991 and Chairman in
1996. His reputation for ruthlessness may be as true as it is
commonplace in the stratospheric salary circles of investment bankers
working in the world's top financial centers. If CF closed shop,
Lutnick and his buds would have had a lot to lose.
We agree on the facts. On September 11, 2001, CF lost 658 of its 960
New York employees in the World Trade Center attacks. A few days later,
in a miraculous last-ditch effort with a money deal from Morgan
Guaranty Trust Company (subsequently JP Morgan), CF re-opened its doors
with a skeleton crew. On Sept. 19, the firm pledged to distribute 25
percent of its profits for the next five years, along with ten years of
health care, to families of its 658 former employees. These profits
would otherwise have gone to the partners of the firm.
Wilkinson: This was a gift from the partners to the families of the
deceased employees, and this film makes sure the viewer gets the
picture. By 2006, the company had completed its promise, having paid a
total of $180 million, with an additional $17 million from a relief
fund run by Lutnick's sister, Edie.
Lutnick and the rest of the firm's leadership have milked this gesture
of generosity for all it is worth. In the eyes of some, they have
milked it for more than it is worth.
The complexity of this situation lies in the uniqueness of the terrible
tragedy that caused it. There is simply no comparison to a firm
compensating the survivors of employees killed through natural
disaster. They had no obligation to do anything. The question is, have
the survivors been used as public relations pawns to secure and cement
bond sales for Cantor Fitzgerald?
The answer, to paraphrase Mr. Dylan, is blowin' in the wind.
Questad: Who cares if the survivors are being played or not? When the
Pentagon was hit on the same day, we didn't hear the government
offering special deals beyond policy to the families involved. What
about the rest of the Trade Tower companies that were hit did we hear
of generous family packages for their workers? Furthermore, when the
Columbine and Sandy Hook student massacres took place and the Oklahoma
City bombing rocked our world, did we see the government rush to
families with extra compensation?
The point is, the immediate reaction of Lutnick, who also lost his
brother that day, was compassion, not avarice or self-protection. There
might also be some divine, if not coincidental, providence involved.
Lutnick had been prepared. At age 18 he lost his mother and then a year
later his father. The middle child of three, he banded with his
siblings for support. Though abandoned by family members, Lutnick's
college gave him a full scholarship in response to his loss. Through
grief, bonding, resiliency and a college that cared, the Lutnicks
Lutnick's tears on CNN in the aftermath of the attacks were not fake.
His outreach to all the affected families was from a deep empathy that
came from personal experience.
Enter your own point of view and read more of the debate at It's Just
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Tags for Out Of The Clear Blue Sky Full Movie
Chad Anthony Miller
, Kim Marie Vasquez
, Michael Santosusso
, Sandra Palmeri
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