Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Two Little Oddities

Two little oddities crept up today in advance of the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on hedge funds.

The first, mentioned by Herb Greenberg in his blog, concerns one of the witnesses, a former employee of Gradient Analytics -- the research firm being sued by Overstock.com for supposedly having an unholy relationship with short-sellers.

Greenberg points out that this former employee's written testimony apparently originated from none other than Overstock.com. It will be interesting to see if any of the senators are awake enough to raise the issue today.

The other little oddity crept up in the CJR Daily blog, in an article on the hearing. The article says that the hearing's star witness, Gary Aguirre, has alleged a "scandal of gargantuan proportions" and urges readers to the "sanitycheck website," which has an eighteen-page letter he wrote to Congress.

"Sanitycheck" is, of course, a naked shorting conspiracy website devoted in large measure to anonymous attacks on journalists who write critically about companies (note this and this blog item). The site is run by a paranoid nut who goes by the phony name "Bob O'Brien" and has been identified by the New York Post as a used medical equipment salesman named Phil Saunders. Saunders/"O'Brien" is notorious for, again, smearing journalists -- such as raving that the editor of Forbes was paid off. Or smearing a Business Week reporter for daring to pose tough questions to Saunders's pal, Overstock's CEO Patrick Byrne.

Odd, don't you think, that a journalism review -- a site presumably devoted to advocating tough journalism -- would link to the financial world's leading enemy of tough journalism? Particularly since CJR could have linked to the place where "sanitycheck" got the letter -- the Wall Street Journal's website? As you can see, the Aguirre material is available there, at no charge, to subscribers and nonsubscribers alike.

No big deal. Just thought it was, well, an odd choice of links.

Actually there is yet another oddity noted in the New York Post today. One of the witnesses at the hearing today is a lawyer from a nonexistent organization who once rooted through the trash of one of his client's enemies.

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, the senators were too busy sucking up to anti-shorting nuts to deal with the origins of the ex-analyst's testimony. See my later item today.

© 2006 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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Wall Street Versus America was published by Penguin USA on April 6.
Click here for its Amazon.com listing and here for more information on the book, from my web site.

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