Wednesday, June 01, 2005

My Profile of Jesse Eisinger of the Wall Street Journal

It seems like a good idea, actually - why not profile an writer who now works for a major pub, plays poker with hedge fund guys, and has invested a month of his time in profiling me, against my wishes? In fact, it will give him an opportunity to comment on the tactics employed during his little journey of pseudo-discovery, and provide a fun basis for any action brought against him. So why not, I say? Here's the complete text of an email sent to him a few minutes ago. I have agreed to keep his emails private up until this point - I would say that now, all communications will be aired, as this seems bigger than just me anymore. There's some pretty significant legal and ethical questions that come into play, and I think that's a more interesting story.

The following was emailed to Jesse a few minutes ago. I will post any responses I receive. It mirrors a format we used in our interactions, and contains data that can be inferred by the reader to be accurate. I agreed to keep Jesse's emails confidential, and will, up until now, but I think that this has gotten large enough to merit further visibility on any subsequent communications.


Your list of questions to me yesterday, and the information contained therein, got me thinking about what a fascinating story profiling a reporter for the WSJ might be. I should alert you that this list of questions will be going up on the blog, as I am hopeful that others can further refine my stumbling attempts at gaining clarity into how the investigative reporting process works. You will note many are eerily similar to your list of questions. I apologize in advance – there are no new ideas. I do hope that you won’t mind being the topic of a profile. I can assure you that only the most positive intent is at heart, and apologize if some of the questions are tough ethical/legal ones.

1) Where did you first get the idea of profiling Bob O’Brien? From whom, specifically?

2) Do you know, or have you ever met, David Rocker, of Rocker Partners? If so, when was the last time the two of you interacted? Was Bob O’Brien, NFI, NCANS, or your investigative report of me ever discussed?

3) Do you know, or have you ever met, Marc Cohodes, of Rocker Partners? If so, when was the last time the two of you interacted? Was Bob O’Brien, NFI, NCANS, or your investigative report of me ever discussed?

4) Do you know, or have you ever met, Herb Greenberg of CBSMarketwatch? If so, when was the last time the two of you interacted? Was Bob O’Brien, NFI, NCANS, or your investigative report of me ever discussed?

5) Do you know, or have you ever met, Mark Cuban? If so, when was the last time the two of you interacted? Was Bob O’Brien, NFI, NCANS, or your investigative report of me ever discussed?

6) Do you know, or have you ever met, Tyler Burke? If so, when was the last time the two of you interacted? Was Bob O’Brien, NFI, NCANS, or your investigative report of me ever discussed?

7) Would it be acceptable for me to obtain attorney/client privileged information about you and your connections? I am doing a profile, so the journalistic protections afforded you should be in effect. If not, why would that be unacceptable? Would you consider LexisNexis and your credit report to be OK to get without your permission, or to be passed them by third parties? If not, why not? Did that not happen in your investigation of Bob O’Brien?

8) Would it be acceptable for me to obtain your banking records, as well as the banking records of the other subjects of my profile, including hedge funds I suspect you may be linked to – someone might just pass them to me, and I can’t reveal my sources – you know how that goes? I know they are federally protected, but I am doing a profile. If not, why would that be unacceptable? Did that happen in your investigation of Bob O’Brien? Please explain, for the record, how you obtained the account information of NCANS, to the level of detail that includes dates of donations, accounts money came from, the names of the donators, etc. Please further explain how that is not a violation of the donors’ privacy, Federal law, and the attorney client privilege, given that it is an attorney’s trust account?

9) Would it be acceptable for me to obtain your telephone records, as well as the telephone records of those I suspect you may be affiliated with, in order to contact every person you have called over the last 90 days, and ask questions pertaining to my profiling of collusive connections between hedge funds and reporters, specifically you? I know those are federally protected, but I am doing a profile. If that would not be acceptable, why not? Did you, or someone passing information to you, not do exactly that in your profile of Bob O’Brien? Given that some numbers called were limited to one or two people, we can pretty much link that – so would it be OK to do so in your case? If unacceptable, why?

10) Would it be acceptable for “Bob “O’Brien” to physically visit your aged relatives, and their neighbors, in order to get some depth on you? Let them know that I am doing a profile on you and the connection to hedge funds, and further send the message that I am willing to travel to drive my point home? Would that be an invasion of your privacy, do you think, or acceptable? If unacceptable, why, exactly, given that you did so in Bob O’Brien’s case? Would trespassing on private property be acceptable to gain access to these folks – you know, going into a guard gated community where they live, in violation of the laws against doing so. Would that be OK? If not, why not?

11) Can you offer an explanation as to how Mr. Cuban had access to your information, or at least your speculation of Bob’s real name, within a few days of your beginning your profile? He came out and used it in an email exchange, so it was known. How did that happen, do you think?

12) Can you speculate as to what lengths hedge funds with hundreds of millions in the balance will go to in order to silence their critics? Do you think they would break Federal banking laws? Federal communications laws? Federal privacy laws? If they would do so, are there any reasons for you to believe that they wouldn’t break other Federal laws?

13) Given that we are talking about Federal lawbreakers here, can you help me understand how having what you presume to be my real identity in the hands of these fellows, which would appear to be highly likely given some of the email exchanges, would not pose a clear and present danger to me, if correct? You have been advised of the danger, and have first hand experience with the lengths they will go to, and yet have shown no interest in my safety or the safety of those around me. Would you please help me understand why I should feel any compunctions about any privacy or safety concerns you might have as objections?

14) Given that colleagues of yours at Barron's like Alpert were outraged at Mr. Cohodes' publicly available address being posted on the message boards, do you think his sense of outrage will be far greater over the types of invasions I have described, or do you believe that outrage will be selectively reserved for friends and cronies? Could you help me understand the difference in response we can expect?

Sorry the list is so long, and I probably will have more questions as this develops – but yours was longer, so I figure you can return the favor. I appreciate your answering these, to help with my profile, and to give the folks at home better visibility as to what passes for journalistic ethics and acceptable boundaries for members of the media.


Blogger rvac106 said...

You've got to go to the law on this. You've got to make the report, make the complaint, register the outrage, document the transgressions. Get it down on paper, in the correct hands. While I appreciate the work you've done up till now, I don't think it's worth your life.

But, that's just me......

10:11 AM  
Blogger bob obrien said...

You can rest assured that appropriate steps are being taken.

10:53 AM  
Blogger smokyjoe said...

I agree w/ RVAC. It is imperative this is brought to the appropriate authorities. Namely the FBI, Secret Service, U.S. Attorney General, and any State AG with possible jusisdiction. A federal or state judges cease & desist or restraining order seems a prudent request. I am no attorney, but several =Constitutional rights and civil/criminal protections seem at question here. ACLU might be a good place to start.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Tommy said...

Do you have a list of email addresses at the WSJ including that of the Journalist and his editor?


6:14 PM  
Blogger bob obrien said...

An update, given that there has been no response to my email to Jesse. A new one was sent this morning:

Robert Obrien
to Jesse
(7 minutes ago)

Just a reminder that I have addressed every email to you in a timely manner, have not published our agreed upon emails, and I am anxious to begin my work in earnest on your profile. Would you please take a moment out of your busy schedule and respond to the questions, particularly the ones wherein it would seem the only answer is that you are working with illegally obtained information? I know that can't
possibly be true, and am eager to hear the real truth on that.

I know that quite a few folks are anxious to hear your explanation. As am I.

Appreciate it.


9:50 AM  
Blogger Chet said...


He doesn't need to answer all the questions you posted, many can be found right off of the google cache.

For example:

3) Mark Cohodes / Rocker
Google Cache

4) Herb Geenberg:

Google Cache

5) Mark Cuban: Here they appear on the same Kudlow and Cramer episode:

Google Cache

There's lots more! Have fun!

12:15 PM  
Blogger bob obrien said...

Hey Chet. I'm more interested in when he last spoke with them, and whether doing this "profile" on me and on NFI was discussed. It just seems marvelously coincidental that so much energy has gone into little old me from the WSJ - now a full month of heavy lifting. I want to know if he is discussing and being guided by hedge funds who are badly underwater on their short position in NFI, or stand to be badly hurt by all the FTD's being bought in. Seems reasonable to me, but thanks for the links.

5:36 PM  

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