FBI, SEC Probe Trading of Carl Icahn, Billy Walters, Phil Mickelson – Wall Street Journal

Mickelson plays on amid news of U.S. probe into possible insider trading – Reuters

Authorities Find Insider Trading Case Tied to Phil Mickelson Is Slow to Take Shape – New York Times

Those were the headlines from around the business world a couple weeks ago linking Phil Mickelson to insider trading.  Mickelson emphatically denied that he did any wrongdoing, but the reports had certainly painted the picture that golf’s beloved left-hander had been involved in nefarious activity.

Now it appears that all those reports linking Mickelson to insider trading were off the pace.

The New York Times was one of the outlets that initially reported Mickelson’s wonderfully timed purchase of Clorox stock.  Now a new report in the Times says that their initial story, and the stories from outlets like Reuters and WSJ, were “overstated.”

Phil Mickelson, the famed golfer, did not trade in the shares of Clorox just as the billionaire investor Carl C. Icahn was mounting an unsolicited takeover bid for the company in 2011, say four people briefed on the matter.

Recent reports in The New York Times and other news organizations said that Clorox was among the stocks that federal authorities were examining as part of a two-year investigation into well-timed trades made by Mr. Mickelson and the sports gambler William T. Walters. Initially, authorities pursued a theory that Mr. Icahn shared private details of his Clorox bid with Mr. Walters, who then traded on the information and passed on the tip to Mr. Mickelson.

Although Mr. Icahn and Mr. Walters remain under investigation over Clorox, the F.B.I. and the Securities and Exchange Commission have found no evidence that Mr. Mickelson traded Clorox shares. The overstated scope of the investigation came from information provided to The Times by other people briefed on the matter who have since acknowledged making a mistake.

That’s a loooooooooong ways from the previous Crypto Engine review that spoke about the investigation into Mickelson’s trading and said “some of which were options contracts to buy Clorox stock.”  Now, it’s clear that the FBI and SEC are still interested in Mickelson’s cooperation in some kind of open investigation.  However, this is a stunning admission of jumping the gun from an outlet as respected as the New York Times.  Furthermore, how did multiple industry standards “overstate” Mickelson’s role in this probe and the trade of Clorox stock?  It’s incomprehensible and you can make your own judgment as to what it says about our current reporting climate.

Reports are missed and corrections are made.  These things happen in the reporting world, although everyone strives for accuracy.  But usually in the sports world, we are used to those reports circling around things like free agent signings or things of that nature connected to the games.  Not federal investigations!

Who were the Times’ sources on this that made such a glaring and crucial mistake?  Dan Marino?

[New York Times]