OLD Media Moves

Henry Blodget's view of the BW/Overstock online battle

January 17, 2006

We all know who Henry Blodget is. The disgraced former Wall Street analyst now has a Web site called Internet Outsider where he posts comments about Internet stocks.

Blodget took at look at the Overstock.com/BusinessWeek tussle between President Patrick Byrne and e-commerce editor Timothy Mullaney. Here are his decidedly anti-journalist comments:

“Well, first, he takes the time to write answers to a lot of the questions. This sort of thing is a waste of a CEO’s time, especially for a little 1,000-word jab. But Byrne-the-CEO clearly enjoys being Byrne-the-famous-and-entertaining-renegade and spending a couple of hours crafting such answers is par for his course. He does duck several of the key fundamental questions–some of which I’ve raised here–and he devotes hundreds of words to detailing short-seller conspiracies, branding some Wall Street analysts charlatans (plausible), and then saying he never reads their stuff (also plausible, and perfectly defensible–this is also a waste of a CEO’s time). This, too, however, is vintage Byrne.

“And, of course, Byrne had another agenda in answering the questions: He sent them to a buddy, who published them. Before the Business Week story ran. With the (reasonable) logic that an on-the-record interview is on-the-record for both parties. And the next thing that happened, according to Bryne, is that Mullaney called up screaming and threatening, called Byrne’s two temp secretaries ‘dumb bitches’, and vowed that, when the story came out, Byrne would be sorry. So Byrne wrote Mullaney another note, and the buddy published that, too.

“To anyone who has ever been burned by a reporter, Byrne’s move seems like poetic justice. Yes, Byrne should have told Mullaney that he might publish the answers–a reputable journalist with integrity, of which there are many, would have given him this courtesy. On the other hand, given the colossal amount of time Mullaney was implicitly requesting, a bit more courtesy and gratitude on his part would have been nice, especially for someone who might later want to lecture temp secretaries about how he’s not being shown any.

“In any case, the Q&A is an amusing read, and the image (true or not) of a reporter cursing out some temp secretaries because he’s had the tables turned is worthy counterpoint to the media’s perma-story about how the main character flaw of most corporate titans is ego. And stay tuned for Mullaney’s story–which, one hopes, will include his version of the events…”

The full post can be read here.

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