Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Judd Bagley Hears His Master's Voice

I'm practically gagging on this tiresome subject, but here we have yet another lurid story sliming its way out of the wild and wacky world of Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne.

Fans of the old Lassie TV series will appreciate this: it is the story of a CEO, and the lapdog that loves him.

In a message board post yesterday afternoon, Byrne mentioned in passing that he had been asked to comment upon something by a terrific New York Post financial reporter, Roddy Boyd. Roddy, you may recall, wrote an article the other day on Byrne delaying for one year his disclosure of a subpoena.

Obviously Roddy Boyd is not on Byrne's list of favorite people. In fact, having just written an article unfavorable to Byrne, and at work on yet another, he is No. 1 on the hit parade.

And then..... look what we have here!

Later that same day, Overstock.com's stalker-in-residence, the nauseating Judd Bagley, announced a brand new post on Overstock's antisocialmedia corporate smear site, which he operates.

The subject of the smear site's latest overheated fantasies is none other than New York Post reporter Roddy Boyd!

Byrne had spoken, and his lapdog was on the case. Boyd was not one of Bagley's favorite people either, because it was his Jan. 2 article in the Post that exposed Bagley as the operator of the then-anonymous antisocialmedia smear site. That ruined Bagley's careful efforts, such as an anonymous registration, to keep the site anonymous. Bagley and Byrne constantly issued dishonest and misleading public pronouncements seeking to hide Bagley's involvement.

All this would be funny if it wasn't so creepy -- and if this did not involve a public company that is a grotesque parody of corporate ethics.

However, one thing you have to admit is that this stomach-wrenching toady has been doing an excellent job stalking and and spreading fabrications about Patrick Byrne's enemies! I just learned -- and this has not been picked up anywhere -- that Byrne has recognized Bagley for his excellent performance as his personal lapdog by promoting Bagley to the position of "director of communications."

The former "director of social media" of a company that has no social media is now "director of communications" of a company that "communicates" by rambling, unsigned posts in message boards, and by maintaining a unique astroturfing smear site.

It was never announced -- which is odd for someone moving to such a visible position -- but instead was tucked away in an Overstock conference handout here. As you can see, he was elevated to his job sometime before April 30.

Note the typical Bagley lie in the handout. He was not "speechwriter and press secretary for then-Governor of Florida Jeb Bush." He worked for a minor commissioner, Cynthia Henderson, head of the Department of Business and Professional Affairs. Bagley's major achievement there was a smear campaign against a Tampa reporter who wrote tough stories about Henderson, as reported in a previous item.

Hey, you've got to admit that Bagley has worked hard for his position. Not every company has a full-time cyberstalker, and Bagley had filled that position admirably, making him richly deserving of promotion.

Besides, with all the SEC scrutiny and all, I suppose it was time that Byrne gave Bagley actual responsibilities at the company apart from running the antisocialmedia.net corporate smear site. However, this assumes he does have responsibilities other than running the smear site. This is Overstock.com and not a normal company, after all. A normal company would not only disavow such a site, but would have fired its proprietor. This being Overstock, the stalker is encouraged and promoted.

You have to admit, not every "director of communications" has done such an excellent job of getting miserably poor media coverage, with more bad coverage coming every day! His attack on the integrity of Roddy Boyd will certainly add to his reputation as a kind of one-man corporate press-enraging mechanism.

Another nice thing about his promotion is that the SEC now has a much higher-visibility target in its investigation of Byrne's misconduct, as well as securities law and ethical lapses at Overstock in general. I understand that the company's accounting practices are a particularly serious focus of the SEC's attention.

This elevation means that from the date of his employment as "communications director," whenever that was, all of his many antisocialmedia and message board posts have -- more than ever before -- the official imprimatur of Overstock.com. He certainly was speaking for Overstock on the boards before his promotion, but this underlines the official character of his Internet activities.

It means a bunch of other things that I'll be describing in future blog posts.

So let's break out the champagne and toast an upward move for one of Corporate America's most truly loathsome characters.

Oh, and I know a perfect gift to give Bagley in recognition of his crawl up the corporate ladder: a framed copy of Overstock.com's Code of Ethics.

UPDATE: An interesting coda involving the Investor Village message board, which has become an extension of the Overstock.com cyberstalking apparatus.

After Bagley's post appeared on the Investor Village message board, a user posted two message containing personal details about Bagley and his family. Those messages were almost instantaneously deleted -- in contrast to the dozens of cyberstalking messages posted on the IV board by Bagley and others, may of which are obscene or threatening in nature. One, containing a death threat against me, is still there.

IV has also kicked off critics of Bagley and Byrne, notably felon-turned-corporate whistleblower Sam Antar, as I've previously pointed out.

© 2007 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.


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, gary-weiss.com.

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