Originally posted on 11/6/2009 by Patrick Byrne
Followers of the twisted tale of DeepCapture will remember that on August 12, 2005, I gave a webcast of which I remain proud, titled, “The Miscreant’s Ball” (see slidedeck and accompanying transcript). Contrary to mainstream journalism (if one may write “journalism” to refer to back-and-forth parroting by hedge fund choagies Bethany McLean, Roddy Boyd, Herb Greenberg, Ron Insana, Joe Nocera, Carol Remond, Jessie Eisenger etc. of research so shoddy it would make a sophomore poetry student blush), that talk was not primarily about Overstock. In fact, only 9 of the 40 slides (2 at the opening, 7 at the end) concerned Overstock.
The bulk of the Miscreant’s Ball presentation discussed the modern bear raid in the context of a web of relationships among a number of Wall Street players, including certain prominent hedge funds and financial journalists, relationships which I depicted as intersecting through Jim Cramer (who later was caught on tape bragging about precisely the activities I had described), a law firm named Milberg Weiss (which since imploded under a DOJ indictment), the SEC (which I claimed had stopped protecting the USA due to its having become hopelessly captured by Wall Street), Eliot Spitzer, and Kroll, a corporate intelligence service which was, I said, employed by hedge funds (which David Einhorn has since confirmed) to build networks of corporate insiders (which may ring a bell with readers following the news now emerging regarding the recently indicted Raj Rajaratnam).
The original Miscreants Ball relationship web. Click to see full version.
The Machine went apoplectic in an attempt to spin, deride, downplay and obfuscate those claims. Their method was simply to cover the Miscreant’s Ball as though it was only about Overstock (though less than 1/4 of it concerned Overstock). The journalists who wrote of it refused to cover, describe, or even mention the claims concerning this web of relationships, claims which formed 3/4 of the Miscreant’s Ball presentation. CNBC’s Ron Insana went so far as to trade taping an interview with me regarding these claims in return for access to supporting affidavits: once Ron Insana had the affidavits, CNBC refused to air the interview, and days later, the affidavits turned up in the hands of Roddy Boyd. How odd.
Their stylistic technique, mindlessly replayed with the creativity and originality of a Lawrence Welk repeat, was to ridicule my use of the term “Sith Lord” (note to Hedge Fund Choagies Local 107: people who pretend not to understand metaphors dumb down the discourse). Admittedly, salting the presentation with this and other colorful shibboleths proved insufficiently granular (i.e., all the journos turned out to be Ephraimites).
In subsequent interviews I refined the metaphor to be “Al Queda” (a network of people sharing operating methods and goals, but not necessarily communicating extensively). Yet when interviewers asked about the Sith Lord comment (see, for example, see my correspondence with BusinessWeek’s Tim Mullaney, among others) I made a rule of including something along the lines of:
“I really think in terms of a composite of two people. Some day I might sack up and let the world know who the master minds are, but not now.”
I suppose I could have made it more obvious.