CNET Reporter Resigns Over CBS Interference In Dish CES Award
from the editorial-independence dept
Now it appears that Sandoval has made his decision, announcing that he's resigned from CNET due to this situation:
Hello all. Sad to report that I've resigned from CNET. I no longer have confidence that CBS is committed to editorial independence.— Greg Sandoval (@sandoCNET) January 14, 2013
CNET wasn't honest about what occurred regarding Dish is unacceptable to me. We are supposed to be truth tellers.— Greg Sandoval (@sandoCNET) January 14, 2013
The Verge has now learned that the facts of the case are somewhat different than the story CNET and CBS had previously shared with the public. According to sources familiar with the matter, the Hopper was not simply an entrant in the Best of CES awards for the site: it was actually chosen as the winner of the "Best of Show" award (as voted by CNET's editorial staff).The Verge report also notes that CNET/CBS Interactive folks fought hard against the decision from the top folks at CBS, but in the end were told they had no choice. While it's not too surprising that folks from the old gatekeeper system, like Moonves, would be so clueless as to think that such a move would not massively backfire, it's still stunning to see that he never appeared to think through the consequences.
Apparently, executives at CBS learned that the Hopper would win "Best of Show" prior to the announcement. Before the winner was unveiled, CBS Interactive News senior-vice president and General Manager Mark Larkin informed CNET's staff that the Hopper could not take the top award. The Hopper would have to be removed from consideration, and the editorial team had to re-vote and pick a new winner from the remaining choices. Sources say that Larkin was distraught while delivering the news — at one point in tears — as he told the team that he had fought CBS executives who had made the decision.
Apparently the move to strike the Hopper from the awards was passed down directly to Larkin from the office of CBS CEO, Leslie Moonves. Moonves has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the Hopper, telling investors at one point, "Hopper cannot exist... if Hopper exists, we will not be in business with (Dish)."
Kudos to Sandoval for standing up for his principles. As a top reporter in the space, I have no doubt he'll land on his feet -- hopefully at a publication with more credibility. Let's see if other CNET reporters follow suit.