Stephen Feinberg speaks!

(But doesn't say much)

Feinberg: A rare interview
Stephen Feinberg is no Howard Hughes after all. The reclusive chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, who generally refuses interviews and won't allow his picture to be taken, seems to have realized that the silent treatment may not be the best option when you own two of America's best-known companies, Chrysler LLC and GMAC.

"Our approach may have been a mistake with the public," Feinberg admitted to New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin, who was granted a rare audience with the private equity mogul.

It was Sorkin who wrote a column in February suggesting Feinberg seemed "cold and ruthless" in a letter he wrote to Cerberus investors. Feinberg's letter wasn't meant for public consumption, but it was widely circulated around Wall Street.

One particular sentence in that letter attracted attention: "We do not need to be heroes to earn a good return on the investment in Chrysler," Feinberg wrote. That seemed to contradict statements made by Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli, who repeatedly has referred to Feinberg as a "true American patriot" who regards it as his duty to save Chrysler, an "American icon."

Sorkin wrote that he spent two hours in Feinberg's office, which he said was positively "threadbare compared with most of his peers' temples of wood-paneled walls and platinum-plated bathroom fixtures."

Feinberg didn't reveal much of himself in the session. But he did reiterate his dedication to Chrysler: "We have a national responsibility. We can't let ourselves fail. We're killing ourselves because of its importance."

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