Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Headless Lawsuit in Topless Blog!

On some level of journalism, I guess anything could happen.

At least that’s according to a recent article by Business Insider’s Henry Blodget about an alleged “mole” at Twitter who was allegedly spying for Google, specifically about an exec the microblogging service was trying to poach from the Silicon Valley search giant.

In a decidedly splashy, hello-traffic, ALL-CAPs headline–THE SEARCH FOR THE “TWITTER MOLE”: All Eyes On John Doerr“–Blodget pointed his J’accuse finger at the legendary venture capitalist as the culprit.

Based on…

Well, based on nothing, it appears, except rank speculation and what appears to be no attempt to get Doerr to comment.

And, while it’s not my cup of tea, whatev, I suppose.

Except when I read down to the bottom and landed on this gem:

We have talked to several sources familiar with aspects of the situation. Thus far, we have not been able to confirm either assertion.

First, no one has even confirmed that Google was tipped off in advance of Twitter’s poaching effort, much less by a Twitter mole.

This doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

And later still:

So we haven’t been able to confirm the “high-level mole at Twitter” story. And we think there’s a good explanation for why there might not be a mole at all.

Secondly, we have talked to no one who has any evidence other than the logic above that, even if there is a Google mole at Twitter, the mole is John Doerr. One insider we spoke to, in fact, dismissed the idea out of hand.

Say what?

It’s kind of like thinking that a sparkly Civil War-era vampire falling in love with a moody chick in the Pacific Northwest and flying through the pines all day and mooning over their cruel fate was real.

Okay, that was a Hollywood movie called “Twilight,” but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen!

Thus, Doerr–a tough customer to be sure, capable of all kinds of sharp-elbowed behavior–is guilty until proven innocent?

Or just not guilty at all, but let’s just say he might be anyway, without a shred of evidence, because it could have happened!

(Courtroom confession: It was All Things Digital‘s Liz Gannes, who did it on the blog with scoop on the Twitter talent raid effort of Sundar Pichai!)

Speaking of evidence, less than a week later, Javert–oops, I mean, Blodget–was back in another kangaroo court performance with another terrifically loud headline:

“The Guy Who Says He Owns 50% Of Facebook Just Filed A Boatload Of New Evidence–And It’s Breathtaking.”

Breathtaking, I guess, if you are in that fantasy teenaged girl mode, but deeply suspect if you are anyone with a modicum of journalistic responsibility.

It is perfectly fine for Blodget to dredge up the copious emails from a man named Paul Ceglia–who alleges he possesses a contract that he struck with Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg at the time of its creation–and analyze them.

And it is certainly notable that a credible law firm, DLA Piper, has taken on the case for Ceglia and it does seems unlikely that it would have done so without doing some level of due diligence.

In fact, in an interview with Am Law Daily, DLA partner Robert Brownlie, international co-chair of the firm’s securities litigation, said: “At first I shrugged it off as incredible. I would not have gotten involved and DLA would not have gotten involved if we had any doubts about the facts or evidence in the case.”

That was, of course, countered by Facebook’s lawyer Orin Snyder at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, who said in a statement that the Ceglia allegations were part of “a fraudulent lawsuit brought by a convicted felon.”

By the way, in fancy-lawyer parlance, that translates to a liar-liar-pants-on-fire defense.

So, microwave the popcorn and get ready for the drama, because no question, it is clearly going to be juicy all around with a whole lot of social networking poking!

In fact, such a case is tailor-made for Blodget, who has always been a very gifted writer with a nose for sharp-edged analysis.

It’s too bad, then, that he did not hone his knife to such an edge when it comes to Ceglia, giving him much too much credibility based on what could be fake emails, especially since they come from a man with a history of fraud.

History, in fact, that Ceglia is depending on in this case, since Zuckerberg most definitely has one in regards to partnerships gone bad.

Thus, Zuckerberg has been sneaky before, ergo he’s sneaky here.

That’s no surprise as a legal tactic, of course, and I threw in the “ergo,” since I too want to play Perry Mason in a blog.

But. More to the point, while Facebook was certainly hard-nosed in dealing with both protracted and high-profile legal challenges from the Winklevoss twins and also Eduardo Severin, I don’t think I have ever seen the company explicitly say evidence was completely fabricated, as it is alleging Ceglia’s emails are.

As I said, I have no idea if they are or they’re not, but I do know this: While those emails are certainly bombshell in nature, they are designed to be so precisely because it is a lawsuit in which the principal is trying to shame Facebook into settling.

None of that seems to concern Blodget, who concludes at the end of the post:

“In short, to us at least, the emails don’t read ‘fake.'”

In short, to me at least, that’s for fake-email experts and the courts to decide.

The real fact of the matter is, who knows? I certainly don’t, although I do know it’s terrifically easy to file a lawsuit and claim just about anything you like.

And the same seems to be true–more and more these days and not for the good–for blogs too.

As for me, I need to get back to my goal of proving that sparkly vampires do exist.

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— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google