OLD Media Moves

Phony business journalists?

March 2, 2006

SEC commissioner Christopher Cox, in an interview with Reuters today about the issues surrounding his agency’s subpoenas of business journalists as part of an investigation, made an interesting comment about how the SEC is working on guidelines to determine how it will use subpoenas in the future in relation to journalists.

Reuters reporter Kevin Drawbaugh wrote, “The formal policy to be adopted will not require that plans to subpoena journalists first be checked with the commission, Cox said.

“He said the commissioners had discussed the problem of defining who is and is not truly a journalist.

“‘There are people masquerading as journalists who really aren’t. That’s a concern,’ he said.

He said the guidelines would concern only the news media and no one else.

“Cox said he believes that, after the policy is adopted, issuance of SEC subpoenas to journalists ‘will continue to be exceedingly rare.'”

Gee, if I am a reporter and the commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission tells me there are “people masquerading as journalists who really aren’t,” I’d be curious to know who he is talking about. None of the journalists his agency subpoenaed last month are masquerading. In fact, they’re some of the top players in the field.

Read the Reuters story here.

Gary WeissFormer BusinessWeek reporter Gary Weiss, on his blog this evening, thinks he knows whom Cox is discussing. Weiss writes, “The ‘sanitycheck’ website, promoted by Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne on CNBC yesterday, bills itself as an ‘independent’ website that likes to say that it engages in ‘journalism.’ But if you follow Byrne’s advice and go there, you see that it is run anonymously by an individual who hides behind a phony name while he promotes several companies, Overstock among them. One of its primary functions is to slander and intimidate journalists who fall afoul of those companies.

“That’s not ‘journalism’ by any stretch of the imagination. Time for the SEC to take action against this fraudulent website and its scummy operators and hidden backers.”

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