Wednesday, February 08, 2012


This is written at
9to5Mac, though I've seen this error at Ars Tehcnica, Cult of Mac, and a variety of Mac sites:

If you have followed the story, you know it was really the New York Times article that took this blunder to the next level. It eventually forced Apple’s otherwise calm boss Tim Cook to issue a company-wide communiqué calling these accusations “patently false” and “offensive.” He challenged assertions that Apple had known about working conditions at Foxconn sweatshops but did nothing to improve them. Such accusations are “contrary to our values,” he said, further contending: “It’s not who we are.”

If you reread the email in question you'll see it does not do these things. Cook's email didn't call the New York Times reporting "patently false" or "offensive"'s what it said:

Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us.

This is what is called in the business a non-denial denial. Nothing in the email contests *any* of the reporting by the NYT, or my work factchecked by THIS AMERICAN LIFE—the only thing they are saying is patently false is the suggestion that Apple doesn't care.

This is an effective technique—look at where this has worked:

Apple CEO calls Times supplier report "patently false and offensive"
Tim Cook calls assault on Apple's ethics in China "patently false and offensive"
Apple CEO Calls NYT Report on Worker Conditions "Patently False and Offensive"

There's a lot more—it gets repeated every day.

But it isn't true. If Tim Cook actually had a bone to pick with the NYT or with me, he's have done it by now with a team of crack lawyers. But he never will. Because he has no issues with the NYT reporting.

Because it is true.