(Disclosure, I’ve done web work for Dan Lyons, aka “FakeSteveJobs” in the past couple years. I like him…but this post isn’t about that.)
Mid-week, Apple announced to their employees that Steve Jobs was taking a leave of absence due to ongoing health issues. This comes on the heals of his non-appearance at MacWorld, which had spurred another eruption of rumors in blogjikstan that he’s gravely ill. However, amny ofof the old media tech hands dismissed this a case of Apple cutting back on their tradeshow expenses.
Yesterday, Dan Lyons really got into it with Jim Lyons from CNBC over the issue of whether the media had enable Apple to get away with lying. From Dan’s article in Newsweek about the fracas:
On Wednesday night I went on CNBC and was obnoxious enough to point out, on the air, that CNBC itself had been put into the latter camp by a Silicon Valley bureau chief who had appointed himself the official defender of Steve Jobs and Apple. Worse yet, in December, when one blog in the Valley reported that Jobs had canceled his annual Macworld keynote because “Steve’s health is rapidly declining,” this reporter went out of his way to attack that outlet and refute its report, both on air and in print. The CNBC guy claimed he had sources deep inside Apple who were telling him that Jobs was healthy. “Apple’s Jobs is (Still) Fine,” was his headline on the CNBC Web site.
Turns out, however, that the blog—a gadget site called Gizmodo—was right, and the CNBC guy was wrong. When I was on air, I pointed this out, and suggested the CNBC reporter should apologize to Gizmodo, and also to his viewers for having misled them. For this I’ve now become persona non grata at CNBC. From what I was told after the show, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever be invited back. (For what it’s worth, after the show I apologized to Goldman and others at CNBC for being so rude. And the next day, a CNBC spokesman said that I have not been “banned” from the network.)
The larger takeaway is what this episode says about how the media covers Apple. It’s one thing for PR flacks to tell lies. That is, after all, what they get paid to do. But it’s another thing for the media to join in on the action.
I’ve watched in awe over the past couple years as Apple in general and Steve Jobs in particular are granted a pass from the media. No matter how Orwellian or heavy handed they are, the press lauds them. The truth is this: if Bill Gates were still at the helm of MS and pulled this stuff, he and everyone at MS would have been dragged into the parking lot and beaten to death by the media. If MS pulled out of “WindowsWorld”, we’d hear how the next stop was a bankruptcy filing.
I ask this: how is it that the bloggers became the watchdogs and the old guard tech media have rolled over for Apple? Yes, they have some lovely products, but that doesn’t mean we have to carry the water for them. The press is here to inform the public and this story was one that obviously affected both the tech and finance sectors.
It makes me boil to hear a reporter defending his stance on a story saying “All I am telling you is what my sources inside the company are telling me, who I trust” when those sources outright lied to him and played him, CNBC and world at large, for fools.