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Monthly Archives: June 2008

I could easily write 80 blog entries on the various exploits and pratfalls of… well, in the spirit of charitability, I’ll call him the eccentric CEO of Overstock.Com, Inc., Patrick Byrne. Just as an example of said eccentricity, he curiously signs off his introduction, by titling himself “Deep Capture Reporter”, rather than, you know, CEO of a fairly prominent online retailer.

But to go into all of that would distract from the task at hand.  Besides, other bloggers have already done a yeoman’s job of documenting his antics over the past few years.

Basically, Byrne’s purpose here is to take credit for inspiring Mitchell to produce this work.  Frankly, why this would be something to take pride in I could not tell you, but Byrne certainly has his own ideas about what is praiseworthy.

Byrne starts by waxing poetic about the exalted body that is the Columbia Journalism Review, noting, among other things, that the school wherein it is based also awards the Pulitzer Prize. These will be interesting comments in light of the implicit accusations soon to follow, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet.

Suffice it to say for now that the CJR, while a high quality publication, nevertheless publishes only six times a year, and carries a staff of just eight people.  Bright people, I am sure, but not exactly in possession of the resources one would expect of a publication claiming to be the “watchdog of the press in all its forms”.

Byrne goes on to state that, upon giving him the leads that were the foundation for the article, he warned Mitchell that “[c]hasing this story will take you down a rabbit hole with no bottom.”  Which is a remarkably apt description of an attempt to read it as well.

Byrne then goes for the big close by selling just how big this story would be (in terms of importance, not quantity of verbiage), invoking Enron (even though some of his supporters have claimed that Enron was just a victim of the sinister forces investigated here), and claiming that the article will help explain why “reporters react when journalists investigate them” by acting like “white-collar crooks”, “refus[ing] interviews” and hid[ing] behind lawyers”.

But did you notice something about that last statement?  If you were wondering exactly how Byrne makes the distinction between a “reporter” and a “journalist”, take half credit, because he makes no effort to explain it.  But regardless of what the distinction is, note, above, that Byrne firmly labels himself as being a “reporter” as opposed to a journalist.  So, in the space of just three short paragraphs and a signature, he has effectively accused himself of acting like a white-collar criminal.

Ladies and gentlemen, Patrick M. Byrne!

Ahem.  So much for the warm-up act, then.  Next week, the wilderness beckons.

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Greetings, reader. I suppose I should say “readers” but no point in being overly optimistic about such things.

The name’s Bond.  Underbond.  A trite joke, yes, but one that was going to be made sooner or later, so I might as well get it out of the way immediately.

The inspiration for this blog was an article in the UK publication The Register, wherein Overstock Inc. CEO Patrick Byrne publicly offered a total of $75,000 for promotion of Mark Mitchell’s treatise on stock market conspiracies entitled “Deep Capture”.

Simply stated, I want a piece of that money.

Now, that said, I do not promise to be glowing in my commentary about Mitchell’s work. In fact, from the few sections that I have scanned I find it to contain some quite atrocious writing for someone who has held a prominent editorial position.

Indeed, I do not even promise to be fair in my assessment of the piece. As the Patrick Byrne himself has illustrated, what can be deemed “fair and balanced” one day can be ripped as “crap” the next. That said, Mr. Byrne seems to be firm in the belief that all publicity is good publicity, and therefore fully expect that any possible bias on my part will be set aside when judging its promotional value to Mitchell’s work.

This journey into the Heart of Deepness will not be a swift one. The piece in question is broken up into no fewer than 82 sections, not counting the introduction from Byrne himself, and I have no intention of proceeding at a pace greater than one a week, a pace that would bring me to the end of the work sometime in early 2010.

Truth be told, this is a journey I do not expect to complete. Not because of the intervention of some Russian mobster or, for that matter, the wrath of the state of Utah coming down on my head for questioning their favorite son. No, in that length of time I fully expect the situation to have changed in some way — exactly what way I cannot be certain — that will render this effort moot.

But I have been wrong before on matters of that sort. So let’s go and see what’s out there.