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Does CNET have adequate disclosures?

CNET's disclosure policy/judgement appears inadequate again in its latest net neutrality piece by Declan McCullagh: "Wanted: writers for DC tech lobby group, secrecy mandatory" which assails the financial motives/conflicts of other writers in excruciating detail without applying the same tough standard to themselves at CNET. 

  • Readers of this blog may remember another post I wrote on this subject, where I called CNET out for not disclosing when Mr. MucCullagh wrote about Google-related issues -- that his wife works for Google.  
    • In that post, I said I was a frequent and usually appreciative reader of Mr. McCullagh's Iconoclast column, but that if CNET challenges the motives/disclosures of others, they must have clean hands of their own.
  • To their credit, CNET now discloses that Mr. McCullagh's wife works for Google.

My point here is that CNET should have either had another writer who was not so conflicted write this piece or CNET should have increased the amount of disclosure on this piece to be congruent with the true thrust of the piece

  • The headline: "Wanted: Writers for DC tech lobby group, secrecy mandatory" communicates CNET/McCullagh's indignance that "writers" could possibly seek to better themselves financially in the marketplace of ideas. The article derided public affairs writers as "former journalists hoping to better their previous salaries." Oh the horrors of a free market...  
    • The investigative minutia raised in this one-sided article about anti-net neutrality/Google advocacy, and the light disclosure included in it, raises the spectre that CNET has a journalistic double standard, one approach for some companies it likes and another for companies it does not like.  
      • First, given the openness and disclosure detail CNET appears to be holding others to in this particular piece, wouldn't it be relevant to disclose what portion of the McCullagh's current and future livlihood depends on Google's overall success? Most Googlers join Google hoping/expecting their household to become millionaires along with the long term success of Google.
      • Second, could one suspect from the one-sided nature of this CNET article that CNET/McCullagh are an unwitting part of Google's "tech lobby group?" 
        • If CNET were objective and balanced on this topic, would they not have dug  into the fact of how Google puppeteers its public policy strategy in large part through public interest entities that get free help from Google and over $270 million in free Google adwords laundered through Google.org?
        • Is CNET looking into why privacy groups view Google as the worst corporate offender of privacy but many so-called public interest groups aligned with Google, who claim they care about privacy -- turn a blind eye to the reality that Google is the single biggest threat to American's privacy?
      • Where is the outrage from CNET when Google is not a neutral gatekeeper?  
      • Is CNET/McCullagh a pro-Google lobby group" just because they are sympathetic to Google's interests? Under CNET's standards for others in this particular piece... its an open question. 

While we are talking about full disclosure -- I openly represent broadband interests/companies as a well known analyst and free marketeer, in my Precursor LLC consulting practice, and also as Chairman of NetCompetition.org -- a pro-competition e-forum opposed to net neutrality legislation/regulation which represents broadband interests.

  • Also relevant to disclose is that I had a major dust-up and disagreement with CNET's Executive Editor, Molly Wood, who came after me personally for having the audacity to share my net neutrality views in an National Public Radio editorial.
  • I did have a little fun calling the 432 commentfest on CNET: "Day 27 of "CNET holding equal time hostage."
  • CNET allowed pro-net neutrality commentary, but denied the other side's views to be aired, which is their right -- it just exposes them as not being objective or fair on the issue of net neutrality or Google. 

Bottom line: Thank goodness CNET is free under the constitution to publish and say whatever they want.

  • Thank goodness, I too am free under the constitution to point out CNET's ongoing bias in its coverage of Google and net neutrality.