Not So Fast

While I will be the first to say that any journalist worth his salt should be prepared to apologize for things he or she may have incorrectly published or broadcast, it should be noted that such apologies should at least pretend to be sincere.

Such was not the case with the late-to-the-funeral mea cupla from Forbe’s Daniel Lyons published yesterday over on Forbes.com.

In that article, Lyons makes an effort to admit the error of his ways by speculating in his writings over the years that The SCO Group had a valid case against IBM, Novell, and Red Hat.

His initial reasoning seems sound: Caldera had a history of successful shakedowns, and in his opinion, Lyons believed that SCO had a shot to repeat history. Not to mention that in the early weeks of the case no one really knew what the heck was going on. Asking if IBM really did swipe some code from Unix and place it into Linux was a perfectly valid question. I will admit that even I was asking and investigating that line of thought for a little while back in the first weeks of SCO v. IBM.

But, like most of my colleagues, as I did the legwork, talked to sources, and delved into the hows and whos of the case, it became pretty clear early on that SCO’s case was not that strong. As more evidence came out from other sources (and no evidence, to this day, from SCO), it became crystal clear that SCO had no case as the months dragged on.

Lyons, for his own reasons, remained unconvinced. And if it were only the fact that he erred in believing too much in what SCO said, I would be the first in line to let bygones be bygones. After all, everyone has a right to their own opinions.

But Lyons went far beyond just believing SCO’s arguments. He used his bully pulpit at Forbes and his Floating Point blog to try to denigrate those in the community who were trying their best to dispute SCO’s charges. These acts, you will note, he has not apologized for. He only touches on it a little bit in this passage:

“I even wrote an article called ‘Revenge of the Nerds,’ which poked fun at the pack of amateur sleuths who were following the case on a Web site called Groklaw and who claimed to know for sure that SCO was going to lose…”

“Poked fun?” I may be a Midwestern boy, but in my book, poking fun does not include inserting quotes from analysts that compare Linux community members to terrorists, as read in that aforementioned 2003 article:

“SCO’s management has hired bodyguards after receiving death threats. Robert Enderle, an analyst who believes SCO’s claims might be legitimate, says he and others also have been threatened, and says this ‘techno-insanity’ verges on terrorism…”

If that is poking fun, goodness knows what Lyons calls a real attack. But perhaps we can get an idea from another article he wrote in 2005, two years after his “poking fun” piece. In this ultimately ironic “Attack of the Blogs” article, Lyons writes:

“One blog, Groklaw, exists primarily to bash software maker SCOGroup in its Linux patent lawsuit against IBM, producing laughably biased, pro-IBM coverage; its origins are a mystery…”

Notably, any apologies for that statement or the article are absent from this week’s apologia. Most telling of all is the lack of remorse for the sidebar to that same Forbe’s article, “Who Is Pamela Jones?,” where Lyons dredges up all the trash dug up by Maureen O’Gara in her investigation of the Jones.

“In February an intrepid reporter, Maureen O’Gara, decided to uncloak the mystery after she found a phone number Jones had left with staff at the federal courthouse in Nevada where a related SCO suit was filed. O’Gara traced the number to an apartment…, 10 miles from IBM headquarters in Armonk. O’Gara spoke to the building superintendent and later found Jones’ mother… but she never got hold of the shy blogger herself…”

Addresses above removed for privacy’s sake. -BKP

(It was recently revealed that for some reason, O’Gara’s company, G2 Computer Intelligence, was listed as one of SCO’s creditors on their Chapter 11 Creditor Matrix filing. No one knows why this is the case, but given your past contact with O’Gara, Dan, maybe you could find out for us. You lamented in that same article how O’Gara was permanently exiled from Sys-Con, but it seems that she’s back and writing there again.)

In my opinion, Lyons’ actions go far beyond buying into SCO’s legal arguments and thinking they had a chance to win. By actively pursuing and investigating Groklaw, he went above and beyond the call of duty and made it personal. That he couched this investigation inside an anti-blog article is irony indeed, given that it was revealed recently that Lyons is the creator of the Fake Steve Jobs blog.

I don’t know why this is personal for Lyons, but reading his Floating Point and FSJ blogs, it seems there’s a grudge here that goes way beyond punditry about SCO.

Perhaps, if he is willing to give an explanation for that, I would be willing to listen.