In the storied history of the modern communications art form known as the "press conference," few practitioners have failed as miserably as Gibson Guitar Corporation CEO Henry E. Juszkiewicz, whose sweat-drenched performance earlier today should earn him a Razzie for Worst Portrayal of a Confident Businessman.
Under a brutal afternoon sun, Juszkiewicz entertained a throng of reporters outside the renowned guitar-making company's Massman Drive factory, where less than 24 hours ago agents from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Immigration & Customs Enforcement confiscated a reported $1 million in guitars and guitar parts that were allegedly imported illegally from India, as well as computer hard drives from the company's Nashville headquarters.
From the Nashville Post:
Juszkiewicz said U.S. Fish & Wildlife agents seized ebony and rosewood imported from India in the most recent raid, believing the seizure — like the taking of rosewood and ebony from Madagascar in a 2009 raid — is related to an investigation of violations of the Lacey Act.
A seminal piece of environmental legislation, the Lacey Act, among other things, requires that U.S. buyers certify they have followed the laws of foreign countries when importing certain lumber. Juszkiewicz insisted his company followed the relevant Indian law and, thus, is not in violation of the Lacey Act. Indeed, he said he has ordered production to continue in Nashville and at a Memphis facility, also raided Tuesday.
"Supposedly, every guitar we build is a violation. I've instructed my staff to continue building and I am taking responsibility," he said.
Why he didn't defer this public shaming onto a more adequately trained PR flack is one for the ages. Over the course of about 30 minutes, the embattled CEO blamed the U.S. federal government bureaucracy, claimed he is a victim of "class warfare," and suggested that anybody who so much as touches one of his allegedly illegal guitars is committing a criminal act — a logic that evidently includes Gibson's own workers and guitar-store employees as well as middle-school kids who want to climb the "Stairway" on display models. When asked if it's ethical to continue manufacturing and distributing a product with such broad criminal application, Juszkiewicz again blamed Big Gubmint.