For the past couple years, Utah-based Internet shopping tycoon Patrick Byrne has been publicly defending his position that there's corruption on Wall Street and he maintains a belief that journalism is at the heart of it.
"This is not an exaggeration," he told a group of local economists and students at the University of Utah Monday, while he continued defending his belief that the mafia may also be involved in illegal hedge-fund operations.
"You don't have to dig very far into this to get to organized crime."
Byrne, who is chairman and CEO of online shopping business Overstock.com, named several scenarios of why the problem has gone undetected for so long, including widespread ignorance and economic illiteracy, bandwidth and integrity issues, journalistic conformity, involvement of crooks, and social media outlets controlling the dialogue.
"But I've been in this rabbit hole for so long, it's hard to see what normal people see," he said. "I've grown tired of saying obvious things and being called crazy."
Byrne criticized various local and national media depictions of financial and education-related news, saying no media outlet has either the integrity or know-how to investigate such a crime. He feels he has been "demonized" by mainstream press accusations while "the statistics could tell the story on their own."
"The institutions that mediate our social discourse have been captured by powerful private interests," he said, adding his claim that "hedge funds manipulate the financial press."
The dot-com business, Byrne said, has been the overrun by a small group of broker-dealers and hedge-fund operators. That corruption has been protected by a small group of journalists "who don't understand what they're doing," he said.
Former Columbia Journalism Review employee Mark Mitchell said he is close to releasing an article detailing a similarly corrupt media presence in what he calls the "single biggest scandal in American journalism." He said the crooks on Wall Street are real, and that they pose a complex problem, not only for the struggling businesses they are taking down, but for all of America.
He has been a recipient of threats by people who have wanted him to back off the story, from phone calls from lawyers to physical abuse, Mitchell said. He said the incentive for journalists who include themselves in the cover-up is usually help on breaking news stories "that sometime end up being big."
Byrne and Mitchell agreed that not all hedge funds are bad. They said that only about two dozen of the 11,000 are unsettled where the money is never delivered.
"Legal shorting is great," Byrne said. "Short-selling is good for the market and can provide useful information." He's received support from some journalists, but continues to stand by his claims, "waiting for the lid to come off one of these days."
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