Monday, October 13, 2008

When Will Patrick Byrne Stop Lying?


And when will the media call him on his lies?

Overstock.com's wack-a-doo CEO Patrick Byrne has been telling every journalist naive enough to swallow his hokum that he "predicted" the current economic calamity. His latest blatherings came today on CNN.

There was this exchange:
.....How did you know the train was coming?

BYRNE: Well, boy, you do your homework. Yes, if you go on YouTube and YouTube my name, you'll see all these videos where I've been saying that.

Basically, every drinking binge I've ever seen ends in a hangover. Well, every expansion, every boom that's fueled by cheap credit ends in a collapse like this. So it's been sort of four or five years, it's been pretty clear this is coming, coupled with there's rampant stock manipulation on Wall Street that's just made the system more brittle.

Byrne, of course, has not uttered a word about "cheap credit," subprime mortgages or Fannie or Freddie or any other actual factor in the recent unpleasantness.

Indeed, Byrne's fellow naked shorting conspiracy theorists, notably blogger Phil Saunders, mercilessly pumped NovaStar Financial -- a leading subprime lender -- claimed that it was a victim of naked shorting and not its own profligate lending, and attacked critics of that company. They'd continued to do so as it slid toward bankruptcy. with Saunders flailing away on a website he created, nfi-info.net. As a commenter points out, Byrne once touted that doomed subprime lender as an "awesome firm."

Instead, Byrne's blatherings over the years have been incoherent rants about "Sith Lords," "hedge fund conspiracies" (notwithstanding his own background in the hedge fund biz), and "counterfeit stock," and there is of course not a shred of evidence that any such things caused the market calamity.

His 2005 contention that a "Sith Lord" -- a mastermind from the 1980s -- was conspiring against good CEOs like him has turned out to be a figment of the imagination of a very truth-challenged corporate exec.

His main preoccupation, of course, has been attacking people who dare to criticize him or say nice things about people he doesn't like, most recently in a vulgar, homophobic tirade.

In fact, the CNN interviewer apparently wasn't listening very carefully, because she let a nutty Byrne attack on Joe Nocera of the New York Times pass without comment. If CNN was a bit more wide awake, it would have realized there was something not quite right about the person it was interviewing and cut him off right there.

So I guess the question is, when will Patrick Byrne stop misrepresenting his past statements? When will he stop lying? The answer, of course, is "never," so I guess the next question is, will the supply of naive journalists giving a podium to this snake oil salesman ever end?

UPDATE: More on Byrne's con game, from Tracy Coenen.

© 2008 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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