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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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