Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Today’s NY Post – Much ado about The Easter Bunny

Today's New York Post article was interesting to me, in the sense that it spent a lot of time focusing on the pressing question of Who's Bob O'Brien, and zero on whether it is even possible, just possible, that Dr. Byrne is correct in his allegations about a conspiracy of hedge funds, the media, class action suits, billionaire financiers, and shadowy master minds.

Tut tut. There will be none of that.

Who cares about a wide reaching scheme that threatens the entire US financial system?

Nope. Of what interest is that sort of nonsense? Who wants to know how it is possible that Byrne/friends/loyal institutions could own virtually all of the legitimately issued shares of his company, leaving the huge short interest with no shares with which to cover, and yet the company can trade millions of shares per day? Who cares that Byrne has affidavits placing the defendants in an illegal scheme (if the allegations are to be believed)? Who cares that OSTK hs been on the Reg SHO list for over 6 months, with only a break of a few weeks in the middle, and yet nobody from any regulator will explain how that is possible without the law being egregiously violated every day?

Instead, we have the speculation that a guy by the name of Phillip Saunders is Bob O'Brien.

For the Record: My attorneys advised me several years ago not to reveal my name. Concerns about my safety have escalated since then with the naked shorting topic and several ominous posts and events, and that advice has not changed. So as always, I will neither confirm nor deny my identity. Everyone will just have to keep speculating.

Unless of course the current object of the press’ attention turns out to be a 300-pound Samoan lad. Or I do. Or Bob does. Then, those that have met me/him/us/them will chime in to say it isn't me/us/them and we’ll all be back at square one. See, this is already getting confusing...

Let's examine the trip down the rabbit hole the Post takes in getting to the identity they speculate might be "O'Brien - AKA the Easter Bunny".

About four months ago, a document went up onto the NCANS site with the name psaunders on the document somewhere – that got the whole psaunders thing going - they assumed that the name on the document loaded up on the NCANS website was my/Bob's name - odd, that, given that so many other names have been on docs and associated items at the sites - but still, why not? Seems reasonable as anything else we'll see. And they concoted a timeline that convinced them that it had to be psaunders due to the speed with which the document was edited - things like the telephone and instant messengering are apparently unknown in the hedge fund world. They then assumed that my nom de plume's residence was accurately described as Vegas. Why? Well, uh...because I’d said so. I also said that the site was headquartered at Cheetah's. And many thought that was true in an earlier article, as well. Apparently I’m a liar about much, but honest about my address. Baffled yet?

So then they set out to profile all the people in Vegas (I presume) with that last name (wonder if they considered middle initials used as first names or skipped that fairly common item) and came up with our lucky lad as one of the list of possibles.

So one has to ask what evidence there is that psaunders isn’t a mistaken lead, or a guy who helps with the web stuff, or merely a contributor? They could have asked NCANS and we would have told them that there was at least one psaunders in San Diego who is a card carrying member. Or that there have been other psaunders' who have been involved in the site. Apparently they wanted this to be the correct one, the perfidious Bob O’Brien himself, and poof, made it so. Really, I get the impression that anyone would have done the trick - the machine requires its food.

Could this have anything to do with the Rocker Partners lawsuit, and wanting to have a thread to pull, a guy to name, someplace to start? Nah. That would be way too obvious, given the timing, and the, what, 4 or 5 articles in 8 days the reporter has written on a topic he's never chimed in on before in his life.

One nit to pick, in the article Boyd refers to speaking to O'Brien, and then articulates that "The Post" believes that Saunders is he, and then uses Saunders and O'Brien interchangeably when discussing comments and attributions. That is confusing - it appears that he never actually spoke with Saunders, only has a belief, and yet attributes statements to Saunders as though by using the declarative, he can force theory to become fact. From a journalistic standpoint it seems unprofessional - did he speak with Saunders or not? Are my statements being attributed to Saunders, and if so, absent anything but a theory, why? If he never spoke with Saunders, why does he refer to me as one and the same, absent proof? It just seems rhetorically slothful. You can read a poster's similar view here .

Now, one could wonder aloud why the WSJ has published at least 3 “Who’s Bob O’Brien” articles, not counting the latest Barron’s article, and yet decided not to publish this exact same story, but rather let the Post scoop them. One could also inquire why my identity is so interesting, and yet the message of systematic stock manipulation and naked short selling isn’t. I guess the SEC and DTCC keeping the level of fails secret to protect hedge funds and the US economy from unknown damage isn’t sexy enough, but speculations as to my real name are? Some businessman's possible association with NCANS is gripping, but a coordinated scheme to manipulate a public company isn't news. Got it. Seems like a lot of effort to out a pseudonym, but what do I know?

So what does it all mean? I chose the name Bob O’Brien in honor of the CNBC commentator, but hell, I’m flexible. Half the bashers are convinced I’m James Dale Davidson, so maybe some permutation of all three names now? Phillip Dale O’Brien? Bob Phillip Davidson?

For the record, there are a number of inaccuracies in the article - the first is that I never indicated that I lived or had properties in California (he could have spoken with Saunders, who could have indicated that he did, but I didn't). I indicated that I was in the Oregon/Nevada/California region, but wouldn't narrow it down further. That could have been an honest miscommunication, so we'll just say it was an open issue. I have certainly made my share of oopses, so I can't throw the first stone.

I am curious as to how they got emails alleged to have come from me. That is curious. Very curious. I can't think of any legal way to get them.

I looked at the site for the Lycaon Group, and there is no phone number, just an email, so I'm not sure where all that came from - maybe Brett is one of the webmasters or contributors for NCANS, or the guy that the Lycaon Group site was farmed out to (FWIW, I did NOT create nor contract for the Lycaon Group's website, thus that connection is erroneous), and the phone number is on the registration form - odd that NFI-info would be based in the BVI and masked by a a german registrar, but presumably the same people did Lycaon and went to none of that effort. Could it be that Lycaon was farmed out to one of the content contributors for NCANS, who didn't particularly care if his identity as a contributor was know? Not in the Byzantine world of the ever-more-convoluted conspiracy theorists. It all has to be much more complicated than that. Why is unknown, at present.

But at the end of the day one has to again wonder why any of these speculations are news of any sort.

Let's say none of it is true. Or all of it. Or some of it. How is anything changed? It isn't.

One thing of note is that the Post acknowledges that I have safety concerns, and everyone that reads this blog knows that I have been the lucky recipient of ominous messages, and yet there was no hesitation in publishing an article speculating as to my identity. I wonder what the reaction will be if the businessman's car blows up, or if he's hit crossing the street? Apparently that is a non-issue compared to the importance of breaking this stop-the-presses story.

So we got a column that covered a possible O'Brien sighting, and yet nothing to cover the implications if Dr. Byrne is correct in his allegations. That to me is odd in the extreme. We have the CEO of a major corporation going public with his contention that there is a coordinated manipulation in his stock that encompasses key players in the financial press, that he cannot get a straight answer as to how many shares of stock are circulating for his company, that there is a Master Mind directing a web of colluding hedge funds to systematically violate the law and destroy companies for profit, and yet what is the story?

A full page speculating as to whose shirts I wear. If it weren't so funny I would be crying.

So there you have it. This week’s tabloid-installment of the “Who’s Bob O’Brien” non-story. Stay tuned for the next episode of this soap opera – maybe I’ll get treated to a two-page centerfold with my shirt off in the WSJ next year, with a story about some woman claiming to have fathered Bob O’Brien’s alien child (whose spilt milk bottle left a clear outline of the Madonna, if you kind of squint…).

6 Comments:

Blogger turk142 said...

Easter Bunny -- I would like to come out as Bob O'Brien. Lets get 100 people or so all to admit to being the one to dramatize the obvious -- who cares who he is. Ignore the message and attack the messenger.

Well, i'm ready to be attacked, because I am Bob Obrien! C'mon Roddy you two-bit hack, come after me. My email is ask3g1@netscape.net. I promise to reveal all. heh

8:53 AM  
Blogger bob obrien said...

Bob, be careful. I don't think you want to go public on this. Powerful forces are gathering, blah blah blah.

9:01 AM  
Blogger eric said...

Bob, I think it's time to start charging these bastards to talk to you. You're famous, and time is money. While they're spending your time, that's time you could have been using for the cause. I'd say come up with an hourly price of what your time is worth and charge it. Maybe the contributions can go to NCANS, a charity, or just keep it yourself. You deserve it. Either they pay, or they say, "Obrien was unavailable to comment."

4:55 PM  
Blogger snoozern said...

I knew, fess up, dirty, you're really Elvis, aren't you?

1:04 AM  
Blogger n-tres-ted said...

bob,

Did you see the report in the NYT business section today about Bayou Fund (the $400 million hedge fund that got out of town overnight)? About $100 million of the money has been found by the Arizona AG, apparently belonging to a firm called Majestic Realty. But I thought Mr. Jeff Matthews says this kind of activity by a hedge fund would be wrong, and is just not done...

9:01 PM  
Blogger bob obrien said...

Saw it.

"I don't know anything about any of that".

If it weren't so sad I'd be laughing louder.

11:12 PM  

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