FORTUNE -- After watching Apple's (AAPL) share price get whipsawed for years by market behavior seemingly disconnected from the company's underlying value, you could almost hear the jaws drop on Investor Village AAPL Sanity Board last week when Charlie Gasparino used the New York Post's op-ed page to come to the defense of high-frequency trading.
In a piece titled "Michael Lewis' high-frequency bull," Fox Business News' combative senior correspondent slammed Lewis' new book Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt as "utterly disingenuous" and an "easy lefty" take on advances in computer technology that Gasparino maintains have made the markets more efficient and lowered the cost of trading. If there is any "ripoff," he writes, it "is of the rich, by the rich."
"The guy who buys Apple on an online-brokerage account gets the price he sees on his screen; that's how the E*trades of the world fill orders. And if you have a mutual fund, your money manager should be smart enough to figure out (as many have) how not to be gamed by the HFT guys."
"That's like saying one tree isn't affected by a forest fire," wrote a Sanity member who posts under the initials djt.
"Charlie don't trade," wrote another. "If he did, he would notice all sorts of weirdness around bids and asks and executions of trades... The effect may be de minimis on any given 100 share trade where they shave a subpenny, but I can't tell you how many times I tried to hit a bid to sell, or hit an ask to buy, and they turned out to be a mirage. The market isn't broken, it's 'fixed.'"
"Big money is in a full court press defense at the moment trying to diminish the impact of Lewis's expose," wrote still another. "[Gasparino] suggests that the small retail investor is in no way being impacted while the HFTs skim fractions of a cent off per trade. While that may even be true on a per trade level, it ignores the overall impact of a crooked system. It also ignores the potential for manipulation and flash crashes created when 99% of orders are withdrawn milliseconds after placement. And it glosses over the fact that perhaps the 'watchdogs' are as much to blame as the traders because after they put in their time at SEC boot camp, they want a place at the trough working for an HFT."
"Sometimes folks," djt concludes., "things are exactly as they appear to be. In this case, rigged."
Editorial sentiment is changing, but it may take some time to turn the ship around.
FORTUNE -- Although it was never in quite the same boat as The Motley Fool, Insider Monkey or ValueWalk, there's been a predictable cast to the Apple (AAPL) coverage on the Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch site these last few months. Typical headlines:When a stock like Apple loses its mojo Wall Street feeds Apple to the muppets again Is MORE Philip Elmer-DeWitt - May 7, 2013 10:35 AM ET
A snapshot of high-frequency trading algorithms in action on Friday
FORTUNE -- What happened to Apple (AAPL) in the last minute of trading Friday?
Tyler Durden, who tweets as @zerohedge, offers the Nanex chart above as evidence that it was a premeditated flash dump executed by one or more high-frequency trading algorithms. How else could 800,000 shares worth nearly $300 million be sold in 17-second intervals?
If retail investors are moving back into mutual MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jan 27, 2013 11:24 AM ET
Behind the Flash Crash of May 6, 2010
FORTUNE -- "The last time I traded, I bought Apple in 2001."
That's what market data analyst Eric Scott Hunsader tells the Dutch TV producers of Money & Speed: Inside the Black Box -- a 2011 exploration of the market breakdown that caused the 2010 Flash Crash -- now available for free on You Tube and, with extras, as a $0.99 iPad app.
Two other experts interviewed -- a fund MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 9, 2012 5:03 PM ET
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