BusinessWeek Magazine sure is one big hellhole, judging strictly by the internal backstabbing, sniping, and intra-office gossip wars that go on there. The latest scathing editorial criticism comes in the form of a comment on a blog interview of editor John Byrne. A helpful reader takes the opportunity to point out that Byrne's predecessor was the widely despised Kathy Rebello, infamous for once hyping stories on her own site with praise from a fake commenter. Also discussed by the angry commenter: a celebrity gossip-refugee news editor with a shelf full of Barbie dolls, and a napkin-folding Rebello underling who fetched his boss water on command (we need one of those!). The provocative comment-along with some context from a BW insider, and our request for more information-after the jump.

An abridged version of the infamous anonymous comment:

The last time I looked, boasted a news editor who formerly worked at STAR magazine, has her shelves covered with Barbie dolls, has decorated her office in leopard skin prints and was the chief water-fetcher and gossip retailer to Kathy Rebello, whom Byrne replaced after she managed to fill the site with click-fraud slide shows that artificially boosted traffic while alienating BW's traditional audience of investment-savvy readers.

Rebello also managed to drive off 90% of the staff she inherited from Bob Arnold, largely because they had been hired by him, not her. Complaints of abuse, overwork, and gratuitous slanders peddled by her "pod squad" of underlings landed on the HR department's desk with such frequency during Rebello's tenure that even someone so manifestly out of touch as Steve Adler eventually had to do something about it - the first step being to quit penning officewide herograms about the great job she was doing, the second to appoint Byrne.

Mind you, Byrne's appointment also made considerable financial sense: Given BW's parlous financial state, McGraw-Hill could ill afford to keep sending multi-year severance checks to abused staffers who lawyered up on the way out.

Sadly, can't be taken too seriously while the Rebello influence lingers, and while Byrne is a lovely man, that "reader engagement" stuff is but a ploy to present chicken droppings as chicken salad.

Yes, it's nice that stories are getting lots of comments. But are the bulk twitterings of internetland's keyboard ticklers really the metric for judging the success of magazine site - a magazine that was once, and not so long ago, a peer of The Economist, both in terms of analysis and influence?

I can't really believe that Byrne believes what he is saying, not in his heart of hearts. It's his duty as a good company man to put the best spin of things, and that's what he has done.

When he cleans out the Rebello apparatchiks - one was a humble conference organizer before embarking on a new career as a mad woman's sycophant - then you will know that means business.

Context from a tipster:

Incidentally, the BW senior editor who worked at Star magazine is Patricia O'Connell...(at Star she was famous for once taking a week off when her cat got sick).The napkin-folding ex-conference planner is the celebrated Martin Keohan, who I remember as leaping up from his desk and racing to the vending machine whenever Rebello would stick a hand holding an empty water bottle out the door of her office. She didn't even have to say a word to get the little brown-noser off and sprinting.

Anybody have any more information on Rebello or BW's problems in general? Email us.

[Talking Biz News]