Gauging TechCrunch’s Moral Fiber In One Sentence

15 07 2009

The study of microexpressions has long been fascinating to me.  If you’re really paying attention, you can learn a great deal about a person in fleeting, unguarded moments.  I think this is true about language as well.  In written and spoken conversation, passing remarks – let’s call them “microprose” – can often give a far more realistic depiction of what’s really going on than what is presented as the main course.  This is, of course, because they are less thought out – and thus less guarded – than the rest of it.

When Arrington posted his rant back in December about how TechCrunch was no longer going to honor embargoes, I stayed out of that fray.  I did that for many reasons: mostly because I think they have every right to refuse to honor embargoes, partially because I didn’t really care enough, and also because the issue was already getting a lot more treatment than it deserved.  But at the time, one little piece of it stood out to me:

“We’ll happily agree to whatever you ask of us, and then we’ll just do whatever we feel like right after that.”

I remember being troubled by that.  It’s one thing to say you won’t honor embargoes and NDAs.  It’s quite another to say you will agree to them and then break them.  The former describes someone doing what they feel is best for their business in an increasingly competitive space; the latter describes someone running a serious ethical deficit.

Last night the news broke that Arrington is in receipt of several hundred confidential Twitter documents forwarded to him by a hacker who broke into some of the company’s email accounts.  I won’t get into it all here; it’s being covered ad nauseam by the usual suspects.  Last night, Arrington publicly feigned moral contemplation about an “ethical line” he didn’t want to cross, then closed the same article with “more posts coming soon.”  Bring me the vomit bag.

I would conservatively estimate that the feedback loop of mutual-Web2.0-masturbation that goes on with Arrington and the toadys immediately around him might evacuate 40% of the oxygen from the social media ecosphere.  And that’s fine; jerk each other off all you want – it’s America.  But when you decide to participate on the buy side of a market for the fruits of criminal labor, I object – and I hope your readers do, too.

5 responses to “Gauging TechCrunch’s Moral Fiber In One Sentence”
17 07 2009
Mike Darnell (03:54:23) :

Well written.

I'm afraid though that in this dog eat dog world Arrington's shenanigans will only be brought to a halt by a successful hefty law suit.

18 07 2009
Chris Abraham (08:22:19) :

I think this is the sort of thing that is going to drive the conversation off the blogs and back into the “ethical” embrace of the unholy priesthood of journalism. At least proper mainstream outlets can honor an embargo.

PR firms and publicists will respond, over time, with once bitten, twice shy when it comes to relating to the type of A-list blogs like TechCrunch, platforms that have, rightfully, the same sort of influence as newspapers and other media outlets but are under no restriction in terms of how they handle news: they're bloggers, they're blogs, they're subjective, and they're proud.

This isn't about blogs, this is about terms of engagement and this is about trust. Hell, some of my best friends are reporters and some of these embargoes are rushed out of error, but in a newsroom, if you break an embargo, you get in a lot of trouble and you could be fired.

This all boils down to the web of trust: as long as getting on TechCrunch remains as important and essential for the tech community, Arrungton can — and will — do anything he bloody wants, no matter how much of an ethical deficit it projects.

That said, do you think Twitter will ever engage with TechCrunch after this? Well, I don't mean to be cynical, but I think so.

I think this is all Kabuki theater. I think people in Silicon Valley love the attention and love the hype.

Besides, whenever my firm gets some column inches on TechCrunch or ValleyWag for our clients, our clients think the sun rises and sets on us and the client gets attention from Tech blogs and sites from around the world.

Michael Arrington's influence is real. His power is palpable. I am sure bulbs light up in his fingers even before he screws them into lamps. I am sure he needs to use hair gel for fear that his electricity will show when his hair stands on end.

Until that ends, he — and his properties — can do whatever he wants with impunity in much the same way that Rush and Beck can on the radio.

18 07 2009
Chris Abraham (11:22:19) :

I think this is the sort of thing that is going to drive the conversation off the blogs and back into the “ethical” embrace of the unholy priesthood of journalism. At least proper mainstream outlets can honor an embargo.

PR firms and publicists will respond, over time, with once bitten, twice shy when it comes to relating to the type of A-list blogs like TechCrunch, platforms that have, rightfully, the same sort of influence as newspapers and other media outlets but are under no restriction in terms of how they handle news: they're bloggers, they're blogs, they're subjective, and they're proud.

This isn't about blogs, this is about terms of engagement and this is about trust. Hell, some of my best friends are reporters and some of these embargoes are rushed out of error, but in a newsroom, if you break an embargo, you get in a lot of trouble and you could be fired.

This all boils down to the web of trust: as long as getting on TechCrunch remains as important and essential for the tech community, Arrungton can — and will — do anything he bloody wants, no matter how much of an ethical deficit it projects.

That said, do you think Twitter will ever engage with TechCrunch after this? Well, I don't mean to be cynical, but I think so.

I think this is all Kabuki theater. I think people in Silicon Valley love the attention and love the hype.

Besides, whenever my firm gets some column inches on TechCrunch or ValleyWag for our clients, our clients think the sun rises and sets on us and the client gets attention from Tech blogs and sites from around the world.

Michael Arrington's influence is real. His power is palpable. I am sure bulbs light up in his fingers even before he screws them into lamps. I am sure he needs to use hair gel for fear that his electricity will show when his hair stands on end.

Until that ends, he — and his properties — can do whatever he wants with impunity in much the same way that Rush and Beck can on the radio.

18 07 2009
Chris Abraham (15:22:19) :

I think this is the sort of thing that is going to drive the conversation off the blogs and back into the “ethical” embrace of the unholy priesthood of journalism. At least proper mainstream outlets can honor an embargo.

PR firms and publicists will respond, over time, with once bitten, twice shy when it comes to relating to the type of A-list blogs like TechCrunch, platforms that have, rightfully, the same sort of influence as newspapers and other media outlets but are under no restriction in terms of how they handle news: they're bloggers, they're blogs, they're subjective, and they're proud.

This isn't about blogs, this is about terms of engagement and this is about trust. Hell, some of my best friends are reporters and some of these embargoes are rushed out of error, but in a newsroom, if you break an embargo, you get in a lot of trouble and you could be fired.

This all boils down to the web of trust: as long as getting on TechCrunch remains as important and essential for the tech community, Arrungton can — and will — do anything he bloody wants, no matter how much of an ethical deficit it projects.

That said, do you think Twitter will ever engage with TechCrunch after this? Well, I don't mean to be cynical, but I think so.

I think this is all Kabuki theater. I think people in Silicon Valley love the attention and love the hype.

Besides, whenever my firm gets some column inches on TechCrunch or ValleyWag for our clients, our clients think the sun rises and sets on us and the client gets attention from Tech blogs and sites from around the world.

Michael Arrington's influence is real. His power is palpable. I am sure bulbs light up in his fingers even before he screws them into lamps. I am sure he needs to use hair gel for fear that his electricity will show when his hair stands on end.

Until that ends, he — and his properties — can do whatever he wants with impunity in much the same way that Rush and Beck can on the radio.

10 09 2009
New York Times Names Michael Arrington ‘Ethics Czar’ (18:28:54) :

[…] The cash-strapped daily denied hiring Arrington solely for access to his extensive contacts in the venture capital community, though a Times insider who asked to remain imaginary did confide that “it’s always nice to have a friend with deep pockets and flexible morals.” […]

Say something:

You can use these tags : <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Article information