BioCentury has seen enough stupid story pitches over the last seven years to put together 100 "Top Ten" lists for David Letterman. But a pitch delivered last week by a public relations shop combined enough elements of both the ridiculous and the outrageous to warrant comment.

The firm phoned to offer an "exclusive" on a breaking story for one of its biotech clients. The "exclusive" is an age-old publicist's ploy to pander to a publication's competitive instincts or paranoia, or to win points by offering a "favor" to a reporter. Occasionally a worthwhile story actually results. But this time the firm or its client wanted to attach some strings to the offer, and a more junior exec called back to ask that BioCentury not call a competing company that would be affected by the coming news.