Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Today's Overstock.com Moment: Payola Journalism

The SEC-investigated, book-cooking Overstock.com, as it awaits a decision by Nasdaq as to whether it should be delisted for its various naughtiness, continues to provide merriment for children of all ages.

Today's "Overstock moment" comes in the form of an article published in The American Spectator by F. Vincent Vernuccio and Jeremy Lott. It extols the "worker's paradise" that is Overstock. I mean really extols. But hey, bad journalism about Overstock is nothing new, and "CEO porn" is one of the afflictions of our business.

The timing of the article was not great, given that the company has just been accused of lying by its former auditor, but I guess them's the breaks.

What makes this particular puff distinctive, however, is that Overstock paid for it. That isn't disclosed in the article proper (except for "on its dime", which flits by you if you blink) but emerged in the comments section, in this exchange:
Denver Todd| 11.24.09 @ 8:46AM

I am a bit jaded about things like this. I remember the tech boom in Seattle where lived at the time, when good companies allowed workers to bring their dogs to work. It is nice to know there are positive working environments out there, even if THE COMPANY PAID THE AUTHORS TO WRITE THIS ARTICLE.
Jeremy Lott| 11.24.09 @ 9:43AM

Overstock paid for our travel and such. It didn't fatten our bank accounts.
The other day I pointed out that one of the things that appeals to me is Overstock's total lack of irony. CEO Patrick Byrne personally attacks critics (including moi), calling them "crooks" and "goniffs" (when they are Jewish), when they are women they are whores (he accused Bethany McLean of giving "blowjobs to Goldman Sachs traders").

He has three lowlifes on his payroll at a website called "Deep Capture" to write about "captured journalists" like me and Floyd Norris and Joe Nocera and McLean and Roddy Boyd and Herb Greenberg (and pretty much anyone who has written a non-puff piece about Overstock) accusing us of being "captured" by nefarious forces paying us major moolah to criticize him.

Seriously. He is such a narcissist that he believes that it takes bribery to force unwilling journos to criticize this prince among the nations.

A flavor of the recent non-paid coverage can be found in the illustration (right) from AccountingNation.com, from an article entitled "Overstock's Nut-Bag CEO."

I assume his goons are cranking up blog posts claiming that AccountingNation and Going Concern were bribed for their recent coverage, as were Business Insider, Floyd Norris and of course, Grant Thornton, which just told the SEC that Overstock has lied in a recent 8-K filing. All tools of the Sith Lord.

And here he is, engaging in the bottom-feeder practice of paying a journalist, openly, to write a puff piece about him.

As I said yesterday, Byrne is one of a kind. He is a crook for the ages.

© 2009 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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