Question for Brad Stone of the New York Times

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 10:12 pmPost subject: Question for Brad Stone of the New York Times

Hello Brad,

Your recent article stated, “Patrick M. Byrne, founder and chief executive of the beleaguered online retailer Overstock.com, has for years been accused of anonymously resorting to the Internet to do battle with his company’s critics. In an interview, Mr. Byrne said that he never hides his true identity and always signs his name when he posts under his online handle, ‘Hannibal’ (the Carthaginian conqueror, not the celluloid serial killer).” Please tell me on what basis you make the claims:

1)”Patrick M. Byrne, founder and chief executive of the beleaguered online retailer Overstock.com, has for years been accused of anonymously resorting to the Internet to do battle with his company’s critics.” That is, I understand many have criticized my appearance on the Internet, but I am not aware of having been “for years …accused of anonymously resorting to the Internet to do battle with [my] critics.” Please provide a citation for such accusations.

2) Please provide a citation for this claim: “Mr. Byrne said that he never hides his true identity and always signs his name when he posts under his online handle, ‘Hannibal'”. Is it your claim that I used the words “always” and “never” in some message board post (and if so, please cite that post), or is it your claim that I stated this in our interview? I know for a fact that the claim is false as regards our interview, and believe it to be false with regard to any online posting, but I stand ready to be corrected.

Respectfully,
Patrick M. Byrne

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 10:24 pmPost subject: Sent to [email protected]

Dear Sir or Madam,In your July 16 article, “July 16, 2007 – The Hand That Controls the Sock Puppet Could Get Slapped” your reporter made a claim that was false. In addition, he had to go way out of his way to make it.Since you have not previously even responded to my requests for citation, I decided simply to make this one public.Explanation welcome.Patrick Byrne, CEO, Overstock.comHello Brad,Your recent article stated, “Patrick M. Byrne, founder and chief executive of the beleaguered online retailer Overstock.com, has for years been accused of anonymously resorting to the Internet to do battle with his company’s critics. In an interview, Mr. Byrne said that he never hides his true identity and always signs his name when he posts under his online handle, ‘Hannibal’ (the Carthaginian conqueror, not the celluloid serial killer).”

Please tell me on what basis you make the claims:

1)”Patrick M. Byrne, founder and chief executive of the beleaguered online retailer Overstock.com, has for years been accused of anonymously resorting to the Internet to do battle with his company’s critics.” That is, I understand many have criticized my appearance on the Internet, but I am not aware of having been “for years …accused of anonymously resorting to the Internet to do battle with [my] critics.” Please provide a citation for such accusations.

2) Please provide a citation for this claim: “Mr. Byrne said that he never hides his true identity and always signs his name when he posts under his online handle, ‘Hannibal'”. Is it your claim that I used the words “always” and “never” in some message board post (and if so, please cite that post), or is it your claim that I stated this in our interview? I know for a fact that the claim is false as regards our interview, and believe it to be false with regard to any online posting, but I stand ready to be corrected.

Respectfully,
Patrick M. Byrne

Posted: Tue Jul 24, 2007 12:07 pmPost subject: Parsing The New York Times

Mr. Wings,I applaud your comment, in that your use of language is more crisp and precise than is Mr. Stone’s….”it is essentially saying that you don’t hide your true identity when posting online.””…your postings are made in such a way that people will always know it was you in particular who made the posting and that your ‘handle’ is usually ‘Hannibal’…”Both of these are precise and accurate statements about what I do and how I describe what I do. I feel Mr. Stone stretched this to suggest that I made a further claim about “always sign[ing]” as “Hannibal”, a claim that (had I made it) would false and easily demonstrated as false, if I made it, which I didn’t. Mr. Stone’s inexactitude did, however, open the floodgates of pettifoggery, obfuscation, and falsification so enjoyed by the shills. I have a modest history with The New York Times. I have, with their permission, taped conversations with their reporters which other nationally known journalists later listened to and said things like, “This makes me ashamed to be a journalist”). Mr. Stone’s decision to push this quote (or since it’s not even a quote, to push his description of my position) on precisely the issue that is the focus of attention, to create precisely the opening that blackguards were seeking, is hard to consider a coincidence, for if it is, it is one of those “coincidences” that happens over and over with clockwork-like regularity and complete predictability.Thank you for your helpful comment, Wings. I trust you understand why, given the situation, it was best not, in fact, to leave this alone, but to parse these claims as carefully as I have, and I thank you for your contribution to this effort.Respect,

Patrick

PS You also wrote, “I may be mistaken on this part, you may of said your handle was always Hannibal…” That is correct: to the extent I have ever used a handle, it was always “Hannibal” or some cognate thereof (“Hannibal100” on Fool, I think).

Posted: Tue Jul 24, 2007 6:01 pmPost subject:

I’m sorry but I am having trouble equating this text from the article

Quote:
In an interview, Mr. Byrne said that he never hides his true identity and always signs his name when he posts under his online handle, ‘Hannibal’ (the Carthaginian conqueror, not the celluloid serial killer).


with your responce to me here of

Quote:
stretched this to suggest that I made a further claim about “always sign[ing]” as “Hannibal”,

To me, the article is not implying that you always sign as Hannibal but just that you always sign your “name” and that your handle (bulletin board ID, etc) is always Hannibal. Yes, I remember now that you had mentioned the Hannibal100. Ofcourse you may have found yourself unable to get Hannibal as a user ID at various boards in the past and are just as likely to not be able to get it in the future (Hannibal is a significant historical figure and unfortunately the screen persona is popular for reasons that probably should be left unsaid). I’m not sure anyone would find a problem in seeing you sign a posting somewhere as Patrick Bryne (Mr. Bryne, P. Bryne, etc.) of Overstock with a user ID of Hannibal2000.Perhaps here the problem should be considered to be what was left open? Whereas you always sign your postings when using the ID of Hannibal, possibly you don’t let anyone know who you are when you use an ID that is not Hannibal? This leads back to the earlier (false?) statement of

Quote:
has for years been accused of anonymously resorting to the Internet to do battle with his company’s critics.


It’s a pretty sneaky way of implying that you have been posting anonymously but one that is not too likely to be picked up on by most people.
The English language certainly has some problems with it at times and can be used to distort most anything. Having gone through a divorce I certainly know how hard it is to answer a question that has been phrased in the manor of “So, when did you stop beating your wife?” The implied statement is that you beat your wife and there is nearly no way to answer this question and be believed that you have never beat your wife. Apparently journalist are not the only professionals to distort things in a statement. Unfortunately, I feel that your specific response to this editor may have left in the realm of having failed on this one by going after the wrong problem. In essence, you may of answered that you stopped beating your wife, not have never beat your wife.

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 7:03 pmPost subject:

Mr. Byrne,

Quote:
Mr. Byrne said that he never hides his true identity and always signs his name when he posts under his online handle, ‘Hannibal'”


I’m sorry but I’m having trouble understanding the problem you are having with this particular part of the article. Yes, it probably isn’t the best use of the English language in a sentence but it is essentially saying that you don’t hide your true identity when posting online. My thought would be that you would be complaining about it’s specific of saying you always sign your name and always use the same “handle” Hannibal (although I’m not even sure if is to your advantage to bother to correct this). Seems to me that I read here somewhere what it was that you sent to this person and it was along the lines of saying your postings are made in such a way that people will always know it was you in particular who made the posting and that your “handle” is usually “Hannibal” (I may be mistaken on this part, you may of said your handle was always Hannibal).
I’m fully in favor of what you are doing concerning the stock market and applaud you for it. But I am wondering if I am missing some nuance here or if maybe this should not of been something for you to complain about? Sometimes, some things are just best left alone.

Posted: Tue Jul 24, 2007 10:19 pmPost subject: Philadelphia Lawyers and Child Threateners

Hi Wings,Thanks for taking the time to write such thoughtful analysis. I think we are close to agreement. I will reply by starting with something you wrote:”Yes, it probably isn’t the best use of the English language in a sentence but it is essentially saying that you don’t hide your true identity when posting online.”I will say three things about this, at least two of which we agree on.1) I agree Mr. Stone’s English on this key point was not terribly precise. No worries, no blood no foul, Mr. Stone.2) I agree that your reading is, in fact the natural reading. And, for the record, I will go further and confirm the truth of the assertion as you read it: I do not hide and have never hidden my true identify when posting online.3) Where we differ is in how we view the importance of Mr. Stone’s lack of precision. The miscreants jumped on it and immediately began counting times I had signed “Patrick” versus “Patrick Byrne” versus “Hannibal” in some weird (and to me still inexplicable) attempt to find an inconsistency. I thus insisted on clarifying the Stone’s imprecise statement. Tonight one of the knuckleheads is back taking my effort to restate precisely what Stone said, and falsely claiming that it was an “admission” (“Byrne admits that he posted on the Internet under anonymous pseudonyms”): I doubt anyone will fall for it, since he neither actually cites such an admission nor gives an example of it, though it be the main claim of his blog. Which is pretty funny and wholly typical.So in short, Wings, your reading is correct. Stone’s English does have only a small imprecision in it. Because the blackguards think they’re Philadelphia lawyers they jumped up and down in the space Stone’s imprecision created, and when I went to seal it up, they used that as an opportunity simply to reverse their allegation.

So for the record, for any stranger, or reporter, who wanders in here:

I have, in fact, never hid my identify when posting online. I have always posted as myself, or as Hannibal. I have only used the name “Hannibal” at Fool, InvestorVillage, and Overstock itself, after extensively making it clear that Hannibal was I. I have posted on other people’s blogs a few times, generally consumer information and shopping blogs, but always identifying myself. The only possible exception to the preceding statements is this: in 1999-2000, I posted as Hannibal a few times on F—-ed company.com, looking for inventory to liquidate, and while I think I did reveal my identity there, it hardly mattered anyway because we were a tiny upstart of whom almost no one had ever heard, and I do not have a record of those posts.

One would think that would be as simple and clear an assertion no one could misread it. Let’s watch.

By the way, thank you for taking the time to tease this analysis out, Wings. Send me an email and I’ll hook you up with a coupon.

Respectfully,

Patrick

PS As long as we are talking about these guys, I’ll give you a taste of who they really are. The other day one of the blackguards threatened me and a friend by posting our personal information on the Internet (and in the case of my friend, that of his wife and children as well). Personally I am indifferent because I am 10 feet tall, bulletproof and invisible, but I don’t think blackguards should be threatening children. Who did the threatening? A fellow named Sam Antar, a convicted felon who reduced his own time in jail by ratting on family members. Some guy. What does he do when he is not threatening children? He goes on CNBC to be fetted by the likes of Herb Greenberg. This may seem strange until you start to get what is going on down the rabbit hole: CNBC (and much of our financial news industry, for that matter) is more or less a 24 hour infomercial where Herb & Cronies hawk whatever cookware sets, Total Gyms, or stock and bonds they are instructed to hawk by a few hedge funds. But the cronies are growing silent because they are starting to realize the game is up. Herb is in too deep to stop, so he has been tasked with creating another crony with whom he can then quote back-and-forth. They cannot even find a Chanos to make denials (given how shifty Chanos looked in the recent Bloomberg expose on naked shorting http://images.overstock.com/f/102/3117/8h/www.overstock.com/07-0313Bloom_PhantomShares_NSS.wmv). So they are having to dig pretty deep, and the best they could do is come up with a convicted felon, relative-ratting, and now, child-threatening, Sam Antar.

Posted: Tue Jul 24, 2007 11:04 pmPost subject:

Patrick,I don’t mean to interrupt this thread, but, there is a serious situation on the message forums right now. A user, mistuff4yu, has been posting ALL day with the worst kind of filth and foul language you can imagine. He has been reported over and over again, all day, and is still on the boards with more of the same filth! Any customers that may come to the message forums would be horrified. It’s bad enough for the sellers to have to deal with it, but, where is the moderator for the forums? Back when Byron was handling it, it would have been dealt with swiftly. Please contact your people and tell them to get the user totally banned and wipe those posts out. It’s an abomination for anyone to see them. Thank you and again, sorry for interrupting your thread but no response from the techs in charge.Myra
Posted: Tue Jul 24, 2007 11:47 pmPost subject: Myra

Myra,On it. Will be taken care of tonight or first thing in morning.So sorry.Patrick

Posted: Wed Jul 25, 2007 4:55 pmPost subject:

Quote:
The miscreants jumped on it and immediately began counting times I had signed “Patrick” versus “Patrick Byrne” versus “Hannibal” in some weird (and to me still inexplicable) attempt to find an inconsistency.


Sounds like some people need to “get a life”. But ofcourse this seems to be the life they decided to get.
I guess I now have a better understanding of the particular aspect that you chose to address. Who in their right mind would really care if in one post you signed Patrick Byrne CEO of Overstock and in a different post you signed Mr. Byrne of the Overstock Corporation? Obviously you have more problems with these people then I had thought.You may still wish to consider addressing on a more specific basis the point I had made

Quote:
Perhaps here the problem should be considered to be what was left open? Whereas you always sign your postings when using the ID of Hannibal, possibly you don’t let anyone know who you are when you use an ID that is not Hannibal? This leads back to the earlier (false?) statement of
Quote:
has for years been accused of anonymously resorting to the Internet to do battle with his company’s critics.
Quote:
It’s a pretty sneaky way of implying that you have been posting anonymously but one that is not too likely to be picked up on by most people.


Ofcourse with them saying that you have ‘admited’ having made postings on the Internet under anonymous pseudonyms which is not even implied in the original article, you have to wonder if sneaky implecations are beyond their mental capabilities to grasp.
Just a thought.

Quote:
By the way, thank you for taking the time to tease this analysis out, Wings. Send me an email and I’ll hook you up with a coupon.


I’ve found this discourse interesting enough to be it’s own reward and have not been looking for any compensation. So, as the offer is appreciated, I will decline it with hopes of not offending the offerer.
Regards
Lee McGuire
wings3
I don’t normally bother to actually sign my name on the board as it generally doesn’t matter to anyone but what with the current discussion felt it would be best. 😉

Posted: Wed Jul 25, 2007 9:24 pmPost subject: Wings

Wings,Thanks for the generosity of your reply. I will accept your invitation to address one last specific point:”Whereas you always sign your postings when using the ID of Hannibal, possibly you don’t let anyone know who you are when you use an ID that is not Hannibal? This leads back to the earlier (false?) statement of… has for years been accused of anonymously resorting to the Internet to do battle with his company’s critics…. It’s a pretty sneaky way of implying that you have been posting anonymously but one that is not too likely to be picked up on by most people.”You got it exactly: it is a sneaky way of implying just that, and while this could be coincidence, but since this is the nth time a reporter has done precisely this, it is hard not to see a pattern. So, again for the record:”Whereas you always sign your postings when using the ID of Hannibal, possibly you don’t let anyone know who you are when you use an ID that is not Hannibal?” Answer: I do not “use an ID that is not Hannibal” (unless it is “Patrick Byrne”).”has for years been accused of anonymously resorting to the Internet to do battle with his company’s critics” Answer: This is just a flat lie on Mr. Stone’s part. No on “has for years been accus[ing me] of anonymously resorting to the Internet to do battle with [my] company’s critics”. Just a lie. I asked Mr. Stone to produce some examples of these years of accusations, but received no reply.Lastly, you are right about the rest. “Who in their right mind would really care if in one post you signed Patrick Byrne CEO of Overstock and in a different post you signed Mr. Byrne of the Overstock Corporation? ” Because you are new to this battle, you may not know that underneath essentially all the press accounts you read of me there lies precisely this kind of pettifoggery, over and over. That is because the Establishment press is itself engaged in a cover-up.By the way, we are going to win. We are building a great company, we are getting discovery in our two lawsuits, the information dam is cracking and this scandal is moving into the mainstream (I get more and more calls each week, do radio interviews, etc). If the NYT thought that Jason Blair episode was a problem, I cannot wait until real reporters start looking into these cozy relationships.

“Of course with them saying that you have ‘admitted’ having made postings on the Internet under anonymous pseudonyms which is not even implied in the original article, you have to wonder if sneaky imprecations are beyond their mental capabilities to grasp.”

Not beyond their mental capabilities. They are just practitioners of the Big Lie. Lie over and over and over about something like that, and readers get disoriented, confusing hard facts with balderdash.

It is nice to meet a gentleman such as yourself here. Take care.

PatrickLast edited by patrickbyrne on Sat Jul 28, 2007 2:22 pm; edited 1 time in total

Posted: Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:08 amPost subject:

Quote:
“Whereas you always sign your postings when using the ID of Hannibal, possibly you don’t let anyone know who you are when you use an ID that is not Hannibal?” Answer: I do not “use an ID that is not Hannibal” (unless it is “Patrick Byrne”).

Apparently, Brad hasn’t done his research. I hear they offer a great research class at the local community college.This is the problem with journalism. If the guy had spent 2 weeks on this site analyzing the posts made by you.. he wouldn’t have made those statements. How hard is it for a journalist to pick up the phone and ask before making it public?What he has posted is no big secret, its no surprise.. in fact it’s outrageous that he even took to the time to write it. How many people are registered on Overstock Auctions? He couldn’t take the time to ask anyone?You see, they say when you assume you make an @$$ out of you & me.. Unfortunately Patrick, you’ll be the one to clear it up.

It amazes me really. Every post made by Hannibal has always been replied by buyers & sellers on this site that call you ‘Patrick’. We’re not morons, and we know who we’re talking to.

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