Speaking of courageous journalists

Jim Louderback’s courageous about-face on Microsoft Vista (see here) started me thinking about the rest of the media, which is always a bad thing, because there is no single group of people that I despise more than the media. Except maybe Indians, but for now let’s stick with the the media. It’s even worse when I’m slightly baked, which I am right now.

I wouldn’t mind if the press would just admit to being the craven, resentful bastards that they truly are; what really irks me is the way they preen around and really seem to believe they’re doing God’s work on earth, speaking truth to power, blah blah blah. Remember when Apple sued those fucks who published our leaked product information, and we had to listen to all that sanctimonious bullshit from the EFF and all these others about the noble media and its super-holy quasi-religious role in our society? Now we’re hearing the same bullshit from a bunch of CNET scammers who are running a shakedown on HP. Sure, HP spied on them. So now they want money, but they’re dressing it up as some kind of great crusade in the grand tradition of Edward R. Murrow or the authors of the Federalist Papers or something.

You think the CNET case is not about the money? Right, it’s the principle. Please. HP has already offered to throw money at these people, and they want more. That’s what this is about. It’s about being an underpaid hack at CNET and not being able to afford a house in the Bay Area and then suddenly realizing you’ve hit the lottery because someone looked at your phone records and you felt all violated, boohoo. These people really believe that HP should pay them millions of dollars. Big millions. What’s most galling is that these reporters started this mess themselves when they ran stories based on information that was leaked to them by board members who were bound by ethics (and maybe the law) not to disclose information from board meetings. I’m not saying HP should be allowed to spy on reporters. And I’m not saying the reporters did anything illegal. But come on. These folks are not exactly pure as the driven snow.

I asked Katie Cotton if we spy on them too. She was like, Jobso, are you crazy? Of course we spy on them. I asked her if we might end up in trouble too and she’s like, Honey, you leave that to me and Moshe. We need you to focus on inventing the future. Okay? That’s enough for one man, even a genius like you. Besides, the less you know, the better. It’s called plausible deniability. Have you heard of it?

But I was curious about the shakedown at HP and I bet you are too. Here’s how the racket works, according to one of our lawyers who told us about it in a meeting last week. He’s a good guy, total East Coast hard-ass, former prosecutor type. He’s been with us for years, and I see him every other week or so in these meetings, but I’ve never bothered to remember his name because what’s the point? For the purpose of this post, let’s call him Mike.

Mike has a friend who works in legal at HP. The deal as it was presented to HP by the lawyers representing the CNET hacks is this: Pay up, and you won’t have to suffer months and months of endless bad press. Or, to put it another way: Instead of discussing the monetary value of whatever damage our clients suffered — because let’s face it, it ain’t much — let’s instead value this settlement by asking what it’s worth for you not to have this black cloud hovering over your brand. Because believe me, we’ll make it hover. We’ll huff and puff and call our friends at the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times and we’ll make this fucking thing into a smog cloud like the one over Mexico City in winter. You won’t be able to step outside on the HP campus without coughing.

Did you happen to notice the way the hacks at the Journal fed all that anti-Murdoch shit to Fortune and the Times when they were still hoping to fend off his takeover? You think those articles just happened by accident? Ever occur to you that those same reporters hate HP too and would just love to get in a few kicks by “covering” the CNET v. HP case? (It’s not just HP. Most business writers hate all companies. They hate business in general. I’ve never understood this. It’s like hiring guys who hate sports to be sportswriters.) Oh, and furthermore, Mr. Hurd, has it occurred to you that IBM Global Services will bring up this “scandal” in every bid where they’re going against you?

Trust me, Mike says, HP won’t fight these claims. They’ll pay up. And these weenies at CNET will be living in nice big houses in Palo Alto or Piedmont. Wait and see.