Thursday, August 18, 2005

Sources from hell

If you've been in editorial for very long you've had at least one encounter with a crazy source. You know the type -- foul-mouthed, paranoid and none-too-bright. These folks tend to be consumed with the need to try and control their press coverage.
My all-time favorite lunatic was a guy who insisted that I had no legal right to write anything about his company (a publicly traded transportation company) unless he approved it. Of course I ignored him. And about every week or so he'd leave a nasty message on my answering machine threatening to sue me for violating something he called "business reputation privacy rights."
I had another source -- a transportation analyst -- who grew erratic and paranoid. He eventually took to issuing reports via FAX that accused reporters of working with FBI agents to hand control of U.S. markets to terrorists.
But it seems like I had it easy.
According to the New York Post, Patrick Byrne, the CEO of Overstock.com, has "routinely fired off profane and belligerent e-mails to analysts and reporters with whom he disagrees." Byrne has taken to complaining that many reporters have joined with a group of 1980s-era financiers "and a shadowy mastermind he called "the Sith Lord" to destroy his company.

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