Saturday, June 02, 2012

Gertrude West has written a timeline of this kerfuffle with Swisher and Mossberg that happened this week. I addressed this on Twitter with West, but I thought I'd say a little more here.

Why did Daisey ensure he would antagonize Swisher and Mossberg by calling them hacks? Twitter made him do it.

This isn't some masterful strategy that ensures anything—I was simply pissed, for reasons that are clear in the post. And I think you can argue about whether such language is called for, etc. but if you don't know that I'm a provocative person at this point, you aren't paying attention.

And Twitter didn't "make me". But I think we all know how Twitter encourages brevity, and if you write something and want people to read it, it also encourages a degree of intensity. That's why I'm writing this here, where there's room.

Shortly before midnight AllThingsD announced that video highlights of the Cook event were posted on the AllThingsD website. One highlight was the full exchange about Apple’s involvement with manufacturing in China. This video contains significant information that wasn’t caught in the live-blog, including Cook’s reference to extensive documentation about Apple’s oversight of its suppliers posted on

And I reviewed the video once it was up, and if I had been wrong about their questioning I would have eaten crow and retracted my condemnation—I do know how to retract, after all.

The problem here is that West hasn't followed the entire Apple/Foxconn struggle, which as been going on since 2006, closely. The existence of Supplier Responsibility Reports in no way obviates the NYT investigation findings, or the NPR follow up findings where they revealed Apple inspected the iPad factory that exploded the day it exploded, and that the inspection lasted a total of ten minutes.

Nothing Cook says in that conversation changes the lack of bite in the questioning. I didn't raise issues with Cook's responses, because he's doing just what you'd expect—he's speaking up for his company, focusing on what they are doing, and spinning things positively. It's the interviewers' responsibilities to ask questions that compel, and they had ample specifics to draw from. I wasn't vague—in my post I talked specifically about the kinds of questions that could be asked, and how the opportunity had been squandered, and why this matters.

At this point something truly remarkable happened. Noam Cohen of the New York Times wrote about this conflict for the NYT’s Media Decoder blog using Daisey’s two blog posts as his primary source. Cohen ignored the video clips of Cook on the AllThingsD website and the wealth of information on the Apple website. Instead he repeated what Daisey had written, casting Daisey in the role of hero in the process.

I don't know how we know how Cohen wrote his post, but like I've said—if you have followed any of this, the "wealth of information" on the Apple site isn't a magic ticket that excludes one from hard questions in the least. And the video does not show hard questions that connect directly to the investigations that have been done—they just airily refer to "critics", which, they state, some are "fictional".

Poynter chimed in with a lament (based on the live-blog not the video) that Swisher and Mossberg hadn’t followed up on a January NYT article about conditions at Apple’s Chinese supplier’s factories. Andrew Beaujon would like to know more about them. He just doesn’t want to have to personally go to the trouble of checking to see what information is available at and

Again, I don't know why we know what Beaujon looked at, because the video and materials on Apple's site doesn't change the contention that the questions were soft. Others on Twitter, including the EIC of Ars Technica, let me know that they had been having the same conversation about the quality of the questioning. The story found some legs because its central contention resonates with people, because it's real and matters.

As an aside, SACOM just released a report at the end of the week on Foxconn's working conditions, contending that Apple's efforts are largely PR and that they aren't seeing movement on the ground in wages and improved conditions.

The one new piece of data that came out of Rob Schmidt's week-long series inside Foxconn was that workers weren't seeing the raises they had been promised.

You aren't reading about that in most tech sites, because almost no one picked it up.

These questions matter.