Whole Foods CEO caught in message-board dispute

AUSTIN, TX: Whole Foods CEO John Mackey was outed by The Wall Street Journal for writing eight years' worth of anonymous message board postings about his company and its competitors.

AUSTIN, TX: Whole Foods CEO John Mackey was outed by The Wall Street Journal for writing eight years' worth of anonymous message board postings about his company and its competitors.

In the public postings on a Yahoo Finance message board, Mackey often praised Whole Foods, while disparaging competitor Wild Oats.

This year, however, Whole Foods bid $18.50 a share for Wild Oats.

Mackey wrote on his own blog that the Federal Trade Commission, which is challenging the merger, wants to embarrass him with revelations of his postings, which were noted in company legal documents. Whole Foods declined further comment.

Richard Levick, president and CEO of legal and crisis PR firm Levick Strategic Communications, said the case highlights the need for lawyers to work closely with PR counsel when turning over potentially embarrassing documents to the government.

"A CEO should no more go on TV in Marx Brothers glasses than use a fake name in the blogosphere," he said.

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