Managing Mossberg

People ask me all the time, How do you do it with Walt Mossberg? Like today, he’s supposed to be writing a review comparing the Treo 750 and the Samsung BlackJack. Instead it turns into a tribute to Apple. And he basically says, If I were you, I wouldn’t buy either of these phones, I’d wait for the iPhone.

So how do we do it? No, we don’t pay him. Walt takes himself very, very seriously and would never cop to a bribe. The solution for us has been a combination of hypnosis and flattery. Basically we bring him in, let him hang out with me, all very casual, and here’s the key: I ask all the questions. I’m like, Dude, what do you think of this design? Where do you think the Internet is going? Bullshit stuff like that, but he waxes on and on, feeling all important because the Great Steve Jobs is asking for his advice. Beauty of it is that Walt is as dumb as a box of rocks. But he thinks he’s like super-duper brilliant. (It’s an affliction common to employees of the Wall Street Journal. Something about the water in the newsroom. “Ego juice,” they call it, or so I’ve been told.) Sometimes we videotape old Walt going on and on, waving his arms and getting all worked up. We tell him we’re taping so we can study his ideas later, but really it’s just so we can laugh our asses off.

Anyway it works like a charm. Walt actually believes he’s had a hand in creating most of our products. So of course he’s not gonna dump on them. Oh, and then there’s the hypnosis. While he’s talking, I do a lot of work with my eyes, and then when I do get a few words in edgewise, I use a lot of NLP trigger words and send him under. He leaves here fully hypnotized and believing he’s the true inventor of the iPod, the Nano, the Shuffle, the iPhone, whatever. One phone call every week to 10 days is all I need to refresh the hypnosis and keep him under.

I also got him to grow that crazy beard. Goat Boy, we call him. Or, sometimes, Goatberg. Photo above shows him right after his most recent brainwashing. I had him leaping onto chairs on all fours and making billy goat sounds. He doesn’t remember any of it. Evil? I guess. But it’s a heck of a lot of fun. Much love, Walt. Keep up the great work. Baaa-aaa-aaa. Baaa-aaa-aaa.