More than two years ago, Patrick Byrne, the future Deep Capture reporter, had dinner with an editor of one of the nation’s most important newspapers. The editor said, “I know the media has not been fair to you on the naked short selling issue. Would you like to write an editorial?”
Patrick said, “Sure, but it won’t get published.”
The editor said, “I decide what gets published.”
Patrick wrote the editorial. A day after he submitted it, the editor, known to be a gentleman, called Patrick and said, “I am terribly embarrassed to have to tell you this, but it appears that I will not be able to publish your editorial – or, for that matter, anything else written by you.”
Other publications seemed to have a similar attitude, so Patrick put his editorial in a drawer.
But he didn’t shut up about naked short selling. He said that this problem would eventually crash the financial system. He lambasted the media for failing to cover it.
The media did not listen. Influential journalists, I am embarrassed to tell you, went out of their way to silence or ridicule people who said naked short selling was a problem.
Well, now that Wall Street has suffered the biggest calamity since the Great Depression, almost everyone agrees that naked short selling is a problem. John McCain, Hillary Clinton, the Chairman of the SEC, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the CEOs of some of the very investment banks that have long participated in naked short selling – they all said last week that this crime must be stopped, or the financial system is toast.
So, just for kicks, Patrick dusted off his editorial.
This time, it was published – by Forbes.com.
Too late now, perhaps. But, please, read this editorial. Read it because it is so simple. Read it because you will see what some of our most sophisticated financial journalists failed, or refused, to grasp.
Read it because the media could not, or would not, and this says something very important about the quality of our public discourse.