InfoWorld fires Randall C. Kennedy

onSale - Your Computer & Electronics Superstore“On Friday, Feb. 19, we discovered that one of our contributors, Randall C. Kennedy, had been misrepresenting himself to other media organizations as Craig Barth, CTO of Devil Mountain Software (aka exo.performance.network), in interviews for a number of stories regarding Windows and other Microsoft software topics. Devil Mountain Software is a business Kennedy established that specializes in the analysis of Windows performance data. There is no Craig Barth, and Kennedy has stated that this fabrication was a misguided effort to separate himself (or more accurately, his InfoWorld blogger persona) from his Devil Mountain Software business,” Eric Knorr reports for InfoWorld.

“Integrity and honesty are core to InfoWorld’s mission of service to IT professionals, and we view Kennedy’s actions as a serious breach of trust,” Knorr reports. “As a result, he will no longer be a contributor to InfoWorld, and we have removed his blog from this site.”

Knorr reports, “Over the past 10 years, Kennedy has contributed valuable information on Windows performance and other technical issues to InfoWorld and its readers — insight and analysis we still believe to be accurate and reliable. Based on our discovery, however, we cannot continue our relationship with Kennedy. Questions about this matter may be directed to Kennedy at rck@xpnet.com. We apologize to our readers.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: The last thing we covered that was directly written by Kennedy was on January 26, 2010 (InfoWorld’s Kennedy: IT needs to act now to avoid the Apple tablet apocalypse), a piece so lopsided that we concluded it must have been an attempt at satire. Now, we’re not so sure that satire was Kennedy’s goal. Hit-whoring seems more plausible at this point (it figures, one of the few times we give the benefit of the doubt… Kennedy’s piece was just so ludicrous and over-the-top that we couldn’t believe it wasn’t done intentionally for humor.) The last article we covered that referenced Kennedy or “Devil Mountain Software” was on February 18, 2010 (RAM Hog: Most Windows 7ista PCs max out memory, researcher says) in which Computerwolrd’s Gregg Keizer quoted “Craig Barth” extensively. That piece by Keizer appears to have been the trigger that unmasked and subsequently unemployed Randall C. Kennedy. At this point, we would obviously disregard everything in that article. As attentive users know, Windows 7ista appears to like RAM very much, but its actual degree of hoggishness is unknown. We’re left wondering: Does the “C.” stand for “Craig” or for something else entirely?

Perhaps, not coincidentally, on February 21, 2010, Larry Dignan reported for ZDNet, “Every story we found that is based on data from Devil Mountain Software, without exception, was first reported in one of two places. ComputerWorld reporter Gregg Keizer has frequently been first on the scene with details when DMS has released a new study. We found at least a dozen stories under his by-line at ComputerWorld based on reports from XPNet, many including quotes from DMS Chief Technology Officer Barth. As we note later in this report, our reporting strongly suggests that ‘Craig Barth’ does not exist and is in fact a pseudonym for InfoWorld contributing editor Kennedy since the late 1990s.”

“Several stories originally reported at ComputerWorld using XPNet data have been widely publicized and occasionally leap into traditional (non-technical) media, often through syndication deals with IDG,” Dignan reported. “We found examples of stories mentioning Devil Mountain Software at All Things Digital (Walt Mossberg’s popular side project for the Wall Street Journal), FOXNews.com and USAToday.com and ZDNet’s international properties among others.”

Dignan reported, “Barth is quoted in at least 12 articles that have appeared in ComputerWorld, beginning in November 2007. His name disappeared completely from the site for all of 2009, but he has made up for lost time in the first seven weeks of 2010, as five stories authored by Keizer and quoting Barth have appeared in ComputerWorld… ZDNet editors have confirmed through multiple sources and Kennedy’s digital slip-ups that ‘Craig Barth’ was a pseudonym used by Kennedy at multiple technical publications in the 1990s. One of those articles turned up in a Google search. As news editor for Windows NT Magazine (later renamed Windows IT Pro), Barth’s by-line appeared in an ‘NT News Analysis’ first published in April 1998. Ironically, a brief item in that same column, also by-lined by Barth, includes several pithy quotes from Kennedy, who was identified as a ‘senior analyst with Giga Information Group.’ As an analyst, Kennedy would have been prohibited from writing for trade publications, so using a pseudonym would have been essential in this case. That by-line appeared for the last time in the December 1998. In January 1999, the section got a new name, and Kennedy’s by-line reappeared.”

There’s much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: In a response to Dignan’s piece, Randall C. Kennedy writes:

Wow! That has to be the most thorough character raping I’ve ever witnessed! I feel like the new kid on the cell block! You could have at least bought me dinner first!

But seriously, you missed a couple of important facts:

1. IDG knew. Galen Gruman, Executive Editor of InfoWorld knew. As did Eric Knorr. And several others. But poor Gregg Keizer – hey, the man was looking for an anti-Microsoft angle at every turn, and he let his zeal get the best of him. I honestly never meant any harm, especially to Gregg.

2. InfoWorld didn’t let me go. I resigned. In fact, up until Saturday afternoon they were still trying to salvage the situation. They didn’t want to lose 2+ million page views per year, which is what the shock jock persona they developed for me delivered.

3. Craig Barth may be fictitious (though, legally, both names are in fact mine to use), but the data never was. I may like to stoke the presentation a bit, but I never embellished the facts. We’ve got nearly 24,000 users. We don’t need to invent data.

4. I also *never* lied about my clients. You can add to the list Intel, IBM, Microsoft, HP, Compaq, Citrix, Dell Computer, VMware and a host of others. I don’t need to make this up. I’ve got purchase orders, canceled checks and a mountain of old white papers to prove it.

Now I think I’ll take a walk down to the Longan tree in my front yard and pluck a few for the beach. Life is tough when you’re semi-retired and living on one of the most beautiful tropical islands in the world (Mauritius). But hey, if people are going to compare me to Bernie Madoff, then I’ll be damned if I’m not going to live life to the fullest.

In another comment regarding Paul Thurrott, Kennedy writes: Thurrott is one of the worst shills to ever soil the journalism industry. I may have ruffled some feathers from time to time, but at least I never sold my soul to the Microsoft devil.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Gabriel” and “Another IT Guy” for the heads up.]

27 Comments

  1. @DX

    He wasn’t fired for using an alias. Did you even read the article?

    Ethical questions remain as to whether Craig Barth was providing DMS data to Kennedy AND whether Kennedy was providing Giga Information Group’s confidential data to Barth!

    These alleged acts are criminal and a serious breech of corporate ethics.

    Infoworld is hedging their bets because who knows what will occur when the other shoe drops.

    If Kennedy resigned as he says, it begs the question; did he do it to avoid any further investigation? He’s sadly mistaken if he thinks this is over.

  2. spyinthesky gets it.

    Now add the part where analysis is used to reinforce the author’s claims and you’re dragging corporations into a legal battle. In the name of protecting their profession, real journalists are going to be on this story like white on rice.

    Randall Craig Kennedy, if that’s your real name, has fooled a lot of people, including DX, botvinnik, and TheConfuzed1, but you will have to leave your island paradise when you’re served.

    Kennedy was a fool to write a rebuttal to Dignan’s piece in ZDNet and if you read the comments that follow, you will see RCK is defending himself to ZDNet’s readership!

    Microsoft is watching this story unfold with extreme interest. Kennedy has been bad-mouthing them for years and he even wrote a piece of popular software that monitors Windows performance and collects the data that was subsequently turned over to Craig Barth, to support his argument against Microsoft!

    Gaaaak!

  3. There is a value to having the story posted. Shows us all that you can be too clever for your own good. It’s like the line from the movie Body Heat. To paraphrase Mr. Rourke to Mr. Hurt, “Anytime you plan a decent crime, there are 50 ways you can screw it up. If you can think of 25, you’re a genius…and you’re no genius.”

    When writers use aliases, it isn’t for Kennedy’s purposes. He was duplicitous, and he knew it. This was a breach of ethics, it’s boring to hear another smart guy explain why he’s right because he’s so much smarter than…everybody else.

    Infoworld had no choice. If they allowed this to go on, who would believe in the identities and trustworthiness of their other contributors?

  4. Kennedy writes: “Thurrott is one of the worst shills to ever soil the journalism industry. I may have ruffled some feathers from time to time, but at least I never sold my soul to the Microsoft devil.”

    As most MDN readers have suspected for quite some time. Thanks for the confirmation, Randall.

  5. If you think Madoff has damaged others, here’s another example that has ripped off millions of people for several decades, to the tune of 10s of billions of dollars:

    Amway is a scam, and here’s why: Amway pays out as little money as they can get away with, so they support the higher level IBOs ripping off their downline via the tool scam.

    As a result, about 99% of IBOs operate at a net loss, while the top 1% make several TIMES more from their Amway tool scam than from the Amway products. This was made illegal in the UK in 2008, but our FTC is unable to pull their heads out of their butts to stop it here.

    Read about it on my blog, I suggest you start here: http://tiny.cc/D5oJh and forward the information to everyone you know, so they don’t get scammed.

  6. @Another IT Guy: I am glad you pointed out the Ars Technica article. Although very technical, I believe I sort of got the gist of it, basically, that Kennedy’s DMS performance software misunderstood an element of the way Windows 7 uses RAM, portraying it as being in use, when in actuality it was queued up for use, but not occupied. To defend himself against the article, Kennedy apparently got access to the data on Peter Bright’s computer via the same performance software, raising privacy concerns, extending even to the possible misrepresentation of secure https data traffic. His comments lend further doubt as to the true motivations of other IT writers like Dvorak, Thurrott, etc.

  7. @newton

    The deployment of DMS performance software is a whole other story. But let’s be clear, Kennedy/Barth purposely continued to use software that would yield unfavorable results to bolster his attacks against Microsoft. In other words, he was being paid not to update his software, or educate himself in the manner in which 7ista manages memory.

    Keiser and infoworld (distributor of his software) and anyone else who used those results is feeling the sting of betrayal right now.

    Now, imagine all of the IT professionals who have been using Kennedy’s data for the last ten years to reinforce their own agendas around the workplace. They too have lost a bit of integrity. Some of them, big time.

    Anyone still using DMS software hasn’t made the connection between Barth and Kennedy. All else have pulled the plug already, for privacy’s sake.

    His comments lend further doubt as to the true motivations of other IT writers like Dvorak, Thurrott, etc.

    No, they don’t, and Kennedy never mentioned Dvorak.

    Dvorak and Thurrott are carnival barkers for a freak show, compared to the role Kennedy/Barth has been conducting for the last ten years. The fact that Kennedy invoked Thurrott’s name is quite telling. It’s as though he’s taking one last cheap shot at someone he identifies with, before going down.

    “I may have ruffled some feathers from time to time, but at least I never sold my soul to the Microsoft devil.”

    No, you didn’t Randall C Kennedy, you competed with him. We all take a side and live with our choices, but exactly who’s side are you on? !!

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