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Carlos Ghosn Missed The Good Shit

Carlos Ghosn addressed the media today, the first time since he got whacked, axed, imprisoned. Also since he escaped. I had hoped that Ghosn would name names, and call out exactly the people involved in conspiring to lock him up. But Ghosn had more important things to discuss: the adoration of his loving fans, and the time GM offered to double his salary to poach him.

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Ghosn spoke to the assembled media in Beirut (the entirety of which can be seen here on Bloomberg’s Twitter), where he fled from Japan in an almost-unbelievable escape. He immediately put his foot in his mouth:

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While we may think we are currently in an era of a new Ghosn, a Ghosn that pulls off such daring escapes as hiding in a large box, we may not have yet fully left the previous Ghosn phase, which was attempting a disguise as a worker and getting caught incredibly easily.

Ghosn took some time in his press meeting to chastise current Nissan operations for missing out on a merger with Fiat-Chrysler, and also that he was offered double pay to join GM. “I made a mistake, I should have accepted the offer,” he said, per the transcripted Reuters highlights.

This is what I would call “industry exciting” rather than “actually exciting.” I had hoped for more from a guy just put on Interpol’s most wanted list. I wanted Ghosn to call out those who wronged him, and I wanted him to implicate everyone from Shinzō Abe down.

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But he didn’t. He played himself as a martyr. He claimed he was worried he would die in Japan. Ghosn, 65, faced up to 15 years in jail if sentenced.

Ghosn’s remarks were also, I hate to say, kind of what you expect from a CEO: a grandiose and self-centered view of the world where the CEO is wanted and beloved universally. The CEO is at the top. Every hand reaches up to you.

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Ghosn doubled down on it, saying just before a short break for the assembled press to gather themselves, that the media smeared him in Japan, claiming he didn’t love it there. He did love it there, and described taking walks in Japan, going to restaurants and to the movies, unattended. He claimed, in these unattended walks (and thus with no witnesses, I’ll point out), that people came up to him and told them how much they appreciated him, personally.

His handlers cut him off, and went to the break.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

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DISCUSSION

I wanted Ghosn to call out those who wronged him, and I wanted him to implicate everyone from Shinzō Abe down.

Well, I listened to most of the press conference, and he did name several Nissan executives, and Japanese lawyers and judges in the process. He claimed he will not name Japanese government people he know are involved as not to complicate the Japan-Lebanon trade and political relationship.

As for the racism, I interpreted his cringy Pearl Harbor remark as referring to the fact that the attack started before the US received a formal declaration of war from Japan, so it was effectively a surprise sneak attack, which he compares to his surprise arrest with no advance warning. I guess if you read his comparison as meaning all Japanese people are sneaky traitorous people, then of course it is racist, but it was not obvious to me that was his intention. In any case, it was an unnecessary unfortunate comparison.

He did sound grandiose and self-centered, as most CEOs are and we as a society reward them to be. I think Ghosn fleeing justice was wrong, however mistreated he claims to have been, but from the day he was arrested, the whole thing stinks of palatial intrigue from Nissan trying to extricate itself from an alliance with Renault they were increasingly unhappy with. Not sure we will ever see the trial where all this might be clarified, though.