Anti-naked short faction attacking biz journalists

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  1. Bob O'Brien says:

    I do find it interesting that my reporting on this issue and my mockery of some industry sacred cows has been painted as some sort of enmity, or that I am the enemy of business journalism.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    I am pro truth, pro transparency, pro accurate reporting. If it is well written, so much the better. My problem is with a narrow slice of the NY financial press who seem to all spin a perspective which coincidentally is popular with mega-wealthy and powerful hedge funds and brokers. I have been the beneficiary of quite a few of these biased and one-sided “hatchet jobs”, and understand the difference between reporting accurately, and inventing a fiction or highly filtered version of verity and representing it as the truth.

    I have tremendous respect for some journalists. Judith Burns is one example of an unbiased, conscientious reporter – in my interactions with her she was tough, but fair. We disagreed on some things, and she let me know when she felt I had stepped over the line. But she reported the truth. That commands respect.

    I am of the naive and arcane belief that those in positions of power and influence, who are so quick to cloak themselves in the protective mantle of journalistic freedom, owe their readers an obligation to at least try to get it right. I also believe that those precious protections were hard fought and won by past journalists whose integrity was above reproach. Cox, in his comments, described a press controlled by a dictatorship, where the spin bore no resemblance to the truth. I was reminded of the last year, where certain publications simply covered-up through non-coverage major calamities in the market – Barron’s conspicuous lack of coverage of the massive Refco fraud being one example, the demonization of Dr. Byrne and subsequent non-coverage of his lack of delivery of shares purchased in the market another, the DTCC’s inaccurate portrayals of Cam Funkhauser’s statements and their claims to have been shot out of the NASAA conference another.

    It is a dark day for journalists when bloggers have more intellectual integrity than many who claim to be professionals in this field. The truth will out in time. Meanwhile, your membership has to grapple with representatives of your craft who casually discuss ruining critics who “dare” to publish embarrassing, one-sided interactions with the press, and others who chat about obstructing the subpoena process as though they were considering their sushi order.

    Either the press is the conscience of a civilization, or they are entertainers – raconteurs, tellers of tall tales, whose word is understood to be biased, and more geared toward hyperbole than truth. I would argue that this past year is a glaring example of an industry in crisis, whose best intentions have fallen prey to character traits as old as humanity itself – avarice, favoritism, cynical conceit, post-modern contempt for ethics.

    That I have been able to catch so many in this noble pursuit in lies, or behaving reprehensibly, should not be cause for enmity from your camp – it should be cause for reflection over the state of your vocation. Most or your ranks are undoubtedly good, hard-working, under-paid and under-appreciated folks who pursued this art for higher reasons. It is sad that a few very bad apples have been able to stain the calling – and even sadder that it appears to be an industry more interested in self-protection and consolidation of power than in self-policing.

    The traditional barriers that have long existed, and have protected journalists – the requirement for a printing press, a delivery system for the physical product, money for ink and paper – have been replaced by a cyber-reality which is a true meritocracy. Just because a crony of a hedge fund manager or a familiar of a powerful prime broker writes a column that twists the truth to the point where it is so garbled as to bear no relation to reality, doesn’t mean that it is going to stick. Now your industry has to contend with avocational commentators, some of whom have proved to be more reliable than the mainstream press.

  2. Bob Barron says:

    You’ve got to be kidding. Surely you are aware the anti-nss and market manipulation forces, are not “enemies of business journalism”, but rather those specific “business journalist” toadies that parrot the script of unregulated hedge funds. Perhaps you should read the words of some business journalists that don’t owe their careers to hedge funds. There are some out there you know and they know the distinction.

    It is interesting that you had to confirm the comments of Bob O’Brien, as in thousands of words he has rarely made a mistake, wnd when confronted with a mistake, he immediately corrects same, as opposed to some of those same “business journalists” you hold in such high esteem.

    Of even more interest, is your lack of comment on the words of Mr. Colarusso. Do you suppport these comments?

    “we have barrels of ink and stacks of money, and all the resources in the world at our disposal, legal, and via our media, to crush them, or at least bring them to some degree where they cannot do this with impunity”.

    One last point, do you question why Herb Greenberg, et al, Rocker Partners, et al, keep talking about sueing those that criticize them, but have actually never done so. Perhaps their lawyers have advised them that truth is a defense, and perhaps they do not wish for the legal discovery that is ready and waiting for them.

  3. Chris Roush says:

    For a different viewpoint on the anti-naked short sellers and O’Brien, I encourage readers to check out the blog operated by Gary Weiss, the former BusinessWeek reporter.

    In particular, there is this posting from Monday: http://garyweiss.blogspot.com/2006/05/its-nice-to-have-friends.html

    And this one from April: http://garyweiss.blogspot.com/2006/04/smear-du-jour-redux.html

    Weiss accuses O’Brien, who does not use his real name on the Internet, of smearing the reputations of business journalists without providing any documentation.

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