Sunday, August 06, 2006

The (Recent) Wit and Wisdom of Patrick Byrne

Responding to overwhelming public demand (and so you don't have to), I have read through the recent, post-deletion writings of Overstock.com chief executive/conspiracy theorist/journalist-taunter/short-and-analyst-suer/"miscreant"-blamer Patrick Byrne, and excerpted some of the more cogent ones below:

On vengeance. "I'm not even winded, but my opponents have just gotten a small taste of what is in store for them. I plan on doing these guys slow. "


On humans eating dog food. "I agree that the metaphor I have used ('Somewhere in America there are Grandmas eating dogfood so some jerk on Wall Street can drive a Porsche') is a disgusting one to use. But there is method in my madness. I have seen my words lied about and distorted so frequently that I have realized the only way to defeat the bimbo journalists is to make my points in extremely earthy and punchy ways. "

On the Conspiracy. "As things play out in the next several months, my main interest is not in seeing justice served to the hedge fund blackguards (though that is nearly a foregone conclusion at this point), but in exposing the institutions which failed the public so miserably. Those are the SRO's and the regulators, of course, but also, much of the most respected business press. They are going to recognize that they went all in, too, when they cooperated in a cover-up."


On being mistaken for a 'tinfoil hat.' "If you are a nice, regular person, they will dismiss you as part of the lunatic fringe, someone who covers her hat in tin-foil to keep the police from reading her thoughts, etc. No one will pay any attention to your complaints. If you run a company, they will attack you, print articles lying about things you say, say that if you just ran a better business people would stop stealing from it, etc. "


On self-immolation. "The business press has done everything it could for the last year to paint me as a madman. In my defense, I claim, I went through all the normal channels to begin with, and got nowhere. So as I said in that Bloomberg article, I decided to pour kerosene on myself and set myself afire in the business press to make this an issue no one could ignore."

Note the recurrent theme here: Byrne, the CEO of a retailer that has consistently failed to deliver for its shareholders, sets himself up as a guardian of "shareholder interests." You have the love the sheer audacity of a spin campaign like this.

Rest assured that there is no need to actually visit Byrne's blog or stay up late to follow his fave message board (where he was still posting at 8:28 tonight) to keep up to speed on his latest thoughts.

I will personally monitor the dog food, miscreant, bimbo, conspiracy, self-immolation and unfair-press situation, and will post further excerpts as developments warrant.

Well, at least I will until a) he stops ranting on the Internet or b) I lose interest, whichever comes first. I trust "b" is the more likely scenario. I note that the media, which used to hang on every word emitting from his flapping jaws, has already begun to do what Byrne hates the most -- which is to ignore him.

© 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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