...of a sewer, and he doesn't like it. Doesn't like it one bit, and you know what he hates even more? That other people know it, so he has to continually try to drag them down with him.
Backstory: A few days ago, Arrington decided to change his investment policy, and talked about it on his shitrag website. This is not abnormal, face it, Arrington loves to talk about nothing as much as himself, and it's not like he particularly gives a fuck about conflicts of interest. The JooJoo/Crunchpad is a perfect example of that. Really, the reaction should have been "And you're telling us this...why?" But then I forget, Mike is now owned by AOL/HuffPo, so in theory, he has to play by bigboy journalism rules.
This is kind of a pain in the ass for him, as at best, it means he has to be far more circumspect in what he writes about, since he's back in the VC circle, and if you want to be really strict, it might mean he should stop talking about anything VC-related. Of course, because Mike is Mike, he puts it on the front page of TechCrunch, and that means it's going to be noticed. This is deliberate mind you. He could have just buried the change in a policy statement in the "About Mike" section of the site, but he didn't. Clearly he wanted attention, and he got it. Most notably from Kara Swisher.
(Disclosure: I am a total fan of Kara's. The woman has a touch with sarcasm that reminds me of Twain and Bierce. How can you not crush on someone like that?)
Evidently Ariana Huffington emailed her about Arrington, (what the fuck is it with the -<double consonant>-ington at AOL?) Kara being Kara, emailed Huffington back about this, and got about what you expect as an answer: "Disclosure is there, no harm no foul". Okay, weak, but sure, what the fuck, it's better than nothing. Kara emails Huffington back with a longer list of more detailed questions, and got nothing back. But then AOL says this to Business Insider:
As a rule, in order to avoid conflicts of interests, AOL Huffington Post Media Group editors, writers, and reporters may not have a financial interest in a company or industry that they regularly cover. This does not include investments in mutual funds, money market funds, or other similar investments. If an editor or reporter is assigned to cover a company outside his or her usual beat, and has a financial interest in that company, including owning stock, he or she may maintain the investment but must transparently disclose it.
Michael Arrington operates from a unique position. He was an investor in technology companies and start-ups before he started TechCrunch, and his extensive knowledge of, and involvement with Silicon Valley is one of the very things that has made TechCrunch a must-read site. TechCrunch is committed to transparency. Michael Arrington has written about the guidelines he follows -- that he rarely writes about companies in which he is an investor, and that when he does, he clearly discloses this information. The same rules apply when TechCrunch’s writers cover these companies.
Okay, so for all but one employee of the division Arrington is in, they cannot invest in companies they regularly write about. If it's a one shot deal, they can write about that company, but they have to disclose it.
Except for Arrington. Because what the fuck, he's Mike Arrington.
Keep in mind, Arrington's not owned by Gawker, he's owned by a company with, in theory, actual journalistic aspirations. That means they kind of have to operate to a higher standard, even when it's inconvenient. That's the point of a higher standard: You keep to it, even when it's inconvenient. To anyone who's followed Arrington over the years, you know that's never happening. William Randolph Hearst was Walter Cronkite compared to Arrington.
Of everyone in the pundit industry, Swisher's probably got the highest moral high ground to shoot from. From her addendum to her normal ethics statement:
In any case, as Arrington preaches, the more disclosure the better, and perhaps I should say even more so here, given the current swirl, by noting explicitly that I garner exactly no financial benefits from my relationship with Megan.
That might seem odd, because she certainly earns more. But I don’t know how much nor do I ask, since we have separate bank accounts and she always pays up–well, almost always–when half the bills are due. While it sounds painfully un-romantic, we only spend overall what each of us can afford equally in an exact 50-50 split.
In addition, I also legally signed away all rights to inheritance–although I had no such marriage rights in the first place, being gay–of Megan’s assets, which are in a trust for her relatives and our sons (for when they are too old to have any fun).
More to the point, I believe this makes me the only person to marry an exec at a hot Silicon Valley company with no prospect of any gold-digging.
Thus, I clearly would make the worst investor ever–not that I ever invest in tech or plan to while I am a reporter covering the sector.
Thank god, I suppose, that Michael Arrington is there to take up the slack.
Yeah, Kara calls Arrington "vaguely icky" but he is. Well, he's full on slimy as far as I'm concerned. But if you actually read the entire article, well, if that's your idea of a personal attack, you don't really understand the concept.
Which of course, makes you more like Arrington. Because of course, being the grotty little troll that he is, he can't let this attack on his manhood go. He's Mike Arrington, he's the bull, you can't mess with the bull without getting the horns. (Well, of course you can. The only time he gets uppity is with people large enough to have PR value. Trust me, the germophobic fuckstick has never said three words to me over calling him...well, a germophobic fuckstick to start.) Go ahead, read his response, it's standard Arrington Temper Tantrum.
I can't call it complete crap of course, because Arrington's response is a masterwork of insinuation and almost-accusation that would have made a drunkard senator from Wisconsin quite proud. Or a seven year old. Arrington's response is equal parts little kid logic and McCarthyism. First, the little kid logic:
Everyone else does it, so it's not wrong when I do it
Arrington sets this up well:
But the really important thing to remember, as a reader, is that there is no objectivity in journalism. The guys that say they’re objective are just pretending. Everyone is conflicted in different ways, and yet the “rules of journalism” don’t require any sort of transparency or disclosure unless it’s a direct financial conflict. I’m going to have to write a longer post about his yet again.
"See, it's not wrong. After all, it's impossible for human beings to be objective about things. So claiming you can be is lying, and by not claiming objectivity, I'm better than them, I'm being honest with you, I'm not bullshitting you."
Well, yes, if your philosophy is based on a self-centered narcissistic, selfish worldview that lacks any self-awareness whatsoever, that's true. However, for those of us whose emotional and mental maturity graduated elementary school, we also understand we have prejudices. Because of that self-awareness, we can, if we choose, temporarily set aside those prejudices, and judge something, even something we don't like, in an objective manner.
For instance, I am no fan of organized religion. However, in spite of that rather heavy prejudice, I can, and do, recognize that there are numerous religious groups that do honestly try to do things the "right" way. I still disagree with the concept, and think those folks would do things the right way with or without religion, but, in spite of my worldview, I can set aside certain feelings and thoughts and comment on things I normally intensely dislike without the filter of those feelings or thoughts. I don't do it a lot, as it's a lot of work, but it's entirely possible. I'm no fan of the Republican party, but I can recognize that not all Republicans are loons, and that "loons" is not a terribly mature criticism.
Self-awareness, it allows us to operate objectively in a subjective world, But you have to have it, use it, and not be of the opinion that it's all about you. Unsurprisingly, Arrington can't do that. What. A. Shock.
But anyway, that's his initial setup.
Then comes the whisper campaign:
But when you read a tech blogger call a CEO “tough and misunderstood,” should you know that the CEO in question is social friends with that blogger, and leaks confidential information to her? The answer is yes. But you’ll never know. Or when the same CEO is called incompetent by another blogger who was just turned down by said CEO to speak at his conference. Disclosed? No. Conflicted? Yes.
Of course, Arrington doesn't name names. But you know it's happened. I bet you've even heard about it, maybe in TechCrunch. Because how can you trust anyone who doesn't fully disclose every encounter they've ever had with anyone they talk about? Sure, Arrington doesn't do this in every article he writes, but who can do that? Besides, we know objectivity's impossible, so really, what do you expect?
By now, Arrington's got a head of steam, so he now names names. But still in that sleazy Joe McCarthy style:
AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher, the chief whiner about our policy, is married to a Google executive. This is disclosed by her, but I certainly don’t see it as any less of a conflict than when I invest in a startup. And yet she whines.
Kara's whining. First step: Belittle criticism. It's not serious, it's whining. Second step, insinuate. "Look who she's married to. Sure, she discloses it, but it's a conflict. She's no better than me." Arrington is assuming no one read Kara's entire article, or her normal ethics statement. But it's also pretty sleazy, even without Kara's disclosure. Because her spouse works for a company Kara writes about, Kara has a conflict, and is therefore untrustworthy.
Kara's not the only one tarred with the "guilt by association" brush:
One of her writers, Liz Gannes, is married to a Facebook consultant. She covers the company and its competitors regularly. She discloses it as well, but it isn’t clear whether or not her husband has stock in Facebook. That’s something as a reader I’d like to know. And regardless, it’s a huge conflict of interest. I think someone will think twice before slamming a company and then going to sleep next to an employee of that company. Certain adjectives, for example, might be softened in the hopes of marital harmony.
I'm going to say that Arrington has less of a grasp of a healthy, functional relationship than even a seven year old. Here's a tip Mike: Bagging on someone's employer is not the same as attacking that person. Well, if they're you or just as immature as you it is, but in a normal, healthy, relationship, it's not the same. It's not even the same if you're talking about hobbies. My wife loves "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". I think it's proof that Whedon is a hack on a Lucasian level, only whinier. I have told her this a number of times. She knows it. It's sometimes a minor sore spot with us. (Seriously, it's a fucking TV show. If you're going to let a TV show fuck up a relationship, both of you are morons.)
However, no matter how much I ask "how can you like this tripe" and bag on the show, Whedon, and everything the man has ever done, the only time she gets angry at me is if I go on for too long, and just get boring about it. Same thing with employers. If you're writing about a company your spouse or S.O. works for, and you change the story because they might get mad, that's a shit relationship. But it is not an automatic conflict of interest.
Now that Arrington has made his insinuations about his attackers, (by the way, for those who overuse the term, what Arrington is doing? That's nigh-perfect ad hominem. "Swisher is untrustworthy because her spouse works for google." Perfection), the full on "See! THEY'RE NO BETTER THAN ME! SO THEY CAN'T CRITICIZE ME! NEENER-NEENER, THEY'RE NO BETTER THAN I AMMMM"
Well Mike, even if Kara did kick a puppy, she still gets to criticize you for punching a baby. See, someone else being "imperfect" does not in fact, mean they cannot call you out on being wrong.
Also, note that he never seems to actually address the meat of their criticism. He has his tantrum, pulls his little ad hominem, and then, like every douchebag who has ever loudly left a forum, leaves with a pronouncement of how shocked he is by all this:
Before I started TechCrunch I never understood how screwed up this whole news world was. It’s ugly as hell out there, people. These people, the tech press, just disgust me.
No Mike, you understood it perfectly, which is why you troll it so much. You are like a career state-level politician claiming to be just a regular dude compared to those bastards in DC. You're full of shit, you've always been full of shit, you always will be full of shit. You are a self-centered fuckwit who still gets angry if you don't get to go to lunch with the cool kids.
You're a middle-aged Ricky Smith, still stuck in high school fantasies of sticking it to the jocks and the cool kids.
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