- a tale of reporters who seek to be players, but instead become pawns - a tale of prominent journalists who help cover up a massive financial crime while toadying to some of Wall Street’s slimiest operators.
* * * * * * * *And it all starts when Patrick Byrne gets a phone call from the Easter Bunny. Really, that’s what the guycalls himself - the
- and he talks like the Bee Gees on fast forward, a nasally frantic falsetto,on and on about some kind of conspiracy involving big time Wall Street operators, the Mafia, and a bunchof famous journalists. Somebody’s got to stop these people, the Bunny says, or the American financialsystem is going to come crashing to its knees. Also, the bad guys might put a bullet between the EasterBunny’s ears.Now, Patrick Byrne is just a CEO in Utah — he sells toasters. He doesn’t see what this has to do withhim, and the Easter Bunny seems pretty weird, so he says, uh-huh, uh-huh, okey-dokey, and thinksmaybe he’ll hang up the phone and go for a pastrami sandwich.But the Easter Bunny persists. He says it’s a conspiracy, the biggest financial heist in history…look, hesays, don’t believe it, but he’s going to make some predictions–and Patrick can see for himself whetherthey come true…* * * * * * * *August 12, 2005
the proudest day of Patrick Byrne’s life
Some months have past since the EasterBunny got in touch, and now Patrick is on a conference call with 500 blue chip investors and a few journalists. He tells his telephone audience that he’s been talking to this fellow named Bob (which isanother Easter Bunny alias), and Bob seems like he lines his hat with tinfoil, he really does, but he’s laidout this scheme, he’s made some predictions…so everybody please download Patrick’s computergenerated slide show and follow along from home.The first slide reads, “The Miscreants’ Ball.” Patrick says the miscreants are selling billions of dollars ofstock that simply does not exist - phantom stock. They have destroyed hundreds of public companies forprofit. Some journalists, meanwhile, are “crooked.” They’re “lickspittles.” They are famous journalists andthey cover up the miscreants’ crimes. They attack all who oppose them. One reporter has been terrorizinga little old lady in Vegas, purported to be the Easter Bunny’s mother. Another reporter, she’s French —she’s been telling people that Patrick is running some kind of criminal cabal out of a gay bathhouse inSan Francisco.And that’s not all, follow along please with the slides — they show how the miscreants and the journalistshave ties to government agencies and private investigators, maybe the Mafia, and also an arms dealer,an undercover mole, a corrupt law firm, and Eliot Spitzer. There’s mention, too, of a “master criminal fromthe 1980s” — call him “the Sith Lord,” like in
- he might be orchestrating all this, and Patrickcan’t just sit on his hands, he’s not cut out for it, it’s his black Irish temper, so he’s going to say to the SithLord, to the miscreants, to the journalists: “Did I stutter? Did I stutter, or did I say I was going to take thisfight to you?“Well, now you know what I mean.”* * * * * * * *Patrick is the CEO of Overstock.com and, truth be told, his company sells more than just toasters. It is adiscount retail outlet that sells all sorts of stuff - one of the fastest growing companies on the Web and acompany that seemed, at least for a while, like it might become a serious competitor to Amazon. But in