Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Patrick Byrne's Smear Campaign Backfires

Mark Mitchell, Deep Capture
One of the techniques of the loony-tunes CEO of, Patrick Byrne, in advancing his shrill and nonsensical Wall Street conspiracy theories is to dispatch across the Internet an army of paid hirelings led by former Florida Republican wingnut Judd Bagley and disgraced ex-CJR editor Mark Mitchell. Well, Byrne seems to have picked the wrong target.

A shill for Byrne who goes by the Internet moniker "Shawn Brandom" (I mentioned him or her a while back), made the mistake of spamming Byrne's "Deep Capture" smear site as a comment on a Huffington Post article by filmmaker and journalist Diane Tucker. Bad move. Tucker responded:
The comment above by "Shawn Brandom" is interesting but not credible. These are actually the first three paragraphs of a story written by Mark Mitchell, a journalist who has been criticized for being the shill of CEO Patrick Byrne. Here is the link:

At first I was going to delete "Brandom's" comment. But I'm leaving it up because it illustrates a growing problem in financial reporting: who can you trust?
Tucker didn't let it go at that. She followed up with journalist and writer William K. Wolfrum, who authored a terrific post entitled "Wow. CEO Patrick Byrne is an unethical freak." Now, of course, the "wow" factor is pretty much gone for any regular reader of this blog. But it was all new to Wolfrum, so the result is a lengthy excoriation of Byrne and his hirelings Bagley, Mitchell and so forth, known and unknown.

Wolfrum observed:

. . .it’s one thing when a couple filmmakers hoax a gullible media with meaningless made-up factoids. It seems as though it would be another thing altogether when a publicly traded company would go through an amazing amount of hoaxing and “astroturfing” to bolster it’s CEO’s numerous lawsuits.

But such is the world of and it’s CEO Patrick Byrne. Because Byrne understands the Internet, and has given himself a voice using corrupt or invented characters.
Evidently Byrne has not won over an adherent to his conspiracy theories:

Not being an economist, I won’t even begin to attempt to give an opinion on Byrne’s naked short-selling campaign. But even without that, I can definitely report that there is just a non-stop foul stench emanating from and Byrne.

The stenchmeister is Bagley, Byrne's pointhuman in the field of "issuer retaliation"----the term of art for public companies retaliating against critics. Bagley leads the online smear army and is paid by Byrne to construct elaborate conspiracy theories on the basis of surmise and innuendo. That is OK I suppose, until you realize that the man cannot distinguish between fact and fancy. I'm not kidding. I seriously doubt that he can make that distinction on even the most trivial of subjects.

Just the other day he just flat-out lied when a message board member made a passing reference to Bagley's sole "journalism" experience, which is working as a traffic reporter for Metro Networks. Bagley said "I've never even worked as a traffic reporter." He stuck by his story until confronted with evidence that he had, indeed, reported on traffic jams on the highways and byways of Salt Lake City. He then posted that his "wife reminded him" about his humble past employment, which he omits from his online resume.

At about the same time, Bagley posted this flight of fancy to describe why his Deep Capture creeps posted innuendo that Bethany McLean, of Enron fame, left Fortune under a cloud -- and not the truth, which is that she left for Vanity Fair.

Wolfrum summed up this phenomenon neatly: is apparently ruled by a modern version of Ed Wood’s film troop. They are a very stupid bunch who don’t seem to have a focus on reality whatsoever. And like Ed Wood, they are doomed to inglorious failure.

Seriously, leaving everything else out, look at it like this: The CEO of a publicly traded company has created several Web sites and hired several people to attack his enemies and sockpuppet at blog comment sections. All the while producing what seems like thousands of words daily about short-selling.

UPDATE: That was faster than usual. No sooner than the ink dried on this post then I get a call from the creepy disgraced ex-journalist, Mark Mitchell. Since he is a clone of Bagley's in the dishonesty department, all he heard after "what was your name again?" was the sound of my receiver being replaced on the hook.

© 2009 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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