Arrington vs Laporte, when tech journalists collide

Calling the ethics or motives of any journalist into question, is one sure fire way to really make them angry.

So when Michael Arrington, (editor of one of the largest technology blogs on the Internet, TechCrunch) implies that Leo Laporte (the head of one of the biggest technology podcast networks, This Week in Tech) has a tainted opinion of the newly released Palm Pre because it was a seven-day review unit and not one he'd purchased... sparks are sure to fly.

Caught on live stream while recording Gillmor Gang, Arrington did exactly that, and Laporte let him have it, calling him "the most trollish person I've ever worked with." However, this was after he called him and said a few other things we've decided not to directly repeat here.

After the blow up, Laporte announced he would remove the Gillmor Gang, the cast that was being recorded at the time which Arrington is a frequent contributor to, from the Twit network. He then cut off the current recording and walked out.

Warning, the following video contains language that may not be suitable for all audiences.

Afterwards, in a posting on TechCrunch, Arrington says that he was upset with Palm for not sending TechCrunch a review unit, which he claims is due to the bad press his site had given the device. His feelings leading into the blow up, was that Palm was only giving review units to people who they thought would give favorable reviews. He also explains how he considers the fact that Leporte received the device for free, even though Laporte is expected to return the device, to be a conflict of interest. As he says in the posting, "as long as Palm sends out a letter with the device asking for it back in a week, it isn't considered a financial conflict of interest. The fact that few people ever return them is rarely brought up."

Laporte apologized in the TechCrunch comments saying "Now that I know what was going on in your mind, I apologize to you. ... I'm embarrassed by my overreaction."

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Leo has a longtime reputation as a good tech reviewer, but what people don't realize (or forget) about him is that he is VERY enthusiastic (read: borderline gusher) about ALL technology, ESPECIALLY historical events (Palms attempt at a comeback).

The gilmore gang are ruthless realists who want to get to the bottom line about anything tech and move on to find the next big thing.

I say it was Leo and his enthusiasm what was really thrown under the bus here (by being cut off repeatedly and treated like a know-nothing), and that must've hurt Leo deep down. You can tell from this video that Leo is DEEPLY hurt. It's not just his reputation that was insulted, it's his soul as a tech enthusiast.

All in all, I applaud his ability to laugh about all this.

A very interesting side of Leo, never seen/heard him throw someone under the bus like that. It was quite refreshing! Leo took out his tech balls and slapped Arrington upside the head with them!

Don't know the other guy, but after 'trying' to watch Leo on various TV Shows and give people very wrong answers or have no clue what he was talking about was very disappointing.

For someone that purports to be a computer 'guru' he should at least be able to pass a basic A+ test, and if he has, the information didn't stick, I wouldn't trust him to change toner in a laser printer, let alone change a fuser or even know which end of a USB cable to use. (Sadly some of the questions he messed up that I saw were simple things like how to uncompress a ZIP folder in WindowsXP, and instead of use the built in tools that are automatic for the user, he made the issue very complex with them install WinZIP and other suggested tools and even doing command line instructions - when he could have just told them to right click on the ZIP and make it easy.)

He was always likeable, and seems like a nice guy, but when he would mess up a simple simple answer to a technical question everytime I watched or listened to him makes me tell people to run if he is giving any advice whatsoever.

The same can be said of Paul Thurrott, that sadly gets paid for books on using computers. He is a person with good sources at Microsoft, but when it comes to actually 'understanding' the technology, is scary and out of his league.

Another name of the so called experts to avoid are Mary Jo, again another person with good MS sources, but a rock short of a full box when it comes to getting it. You can see this become laboring when she does technical interviews and the people want to scream and run.

The last name to avoid in 'technical journalists' is good old Chris Pirillo, he couldn't 'tech' his way out of a paper bag, and showed his true nature of understanding when he flipped into the I hate Vista rants when Apple was giving him new Macs. (Strange timing uh?) Let alone his rants on Vista weren't even about what was legitimate about Vista but bitching about things like its search and how much better OS X was because it would find Control Panel items, and ironically, Vista also would find Control Panel items the SAME WAY, he just never tried it on Vista, which he admitted to one of my techs after they followed up on his rant.

This is good drama for the geek world though, and probably will help both of these people's careers, as Rush and other shock and media whores can confirm.

bribes for a good reviews
vs
blackmailing and sabotaging the product for not receive a free stuff.

nothing new under the sun.

The whole review thing is BIASED EVERYWHERE, anyone that says otherwise is saving his ass. It's part of humanity to take a side and pass judgement mixed with your own opinions of what's good or not.

On the other side, companies know giving out free **** will help them get what they want, and mixit up with technology freaks that need to have the latest greatest every few months. The good thing is these guys are happy enough with a new phone and don't expect exclusive celebrity parties and escorts like the video game reviewers.

How old are these guys? One guy acts like a 6 year old because "Jimmy got a new toy, but I didn't", calls the other a name, then the one with the toy calls the other little kid a bunch of names, then runs off to mommy to tattletale.
Geez!
These guys sound like a bunch of spoiled rotten brats.

I love when people on this site call others nerds and laugh especially someone as highly respected as Leo in this industry. Leo most defiantly has done way more and will be far more respected than these users calling him a nerd for defending his morals. I'd trust a review from Leo far more than any articles posted on such sites as these just because of the fact that he has a set reputation and is known for being truthful.

Agreed. Mike Arrogant is an obnoxious and jealous troll who was trying to set LaPorte off.
Got his wish huh? I LOLed.

As to ANY of this crap being journalism - not even remotely.
The days of unbiased journalistic reporting were gone with the advent of easy "information" from the web. Hardly anyone checks their facts, sources or spelling/style and what passes for "news" nowadays is a pathetic and half-assed rehash of press releases, promotional material or outright copied work by someone else.

Exactly, but look at headline "...when tech journalists collide" And when Leo Laporte defend his "integrity" so furiously you know whats up. Open wound and they dont want to talk about it. Anything but integrity. And there is not even any meat on this story. Just a review sample borrowed for 7 days. 1 guy/child is ****ed because he cant play with it, opposite the others - notice "Scoble got one" in the background? All good fun but dont call it journalism or focus too much on integrity, ethics. They are all doing their business... Some more professionally than others.

I can't believe some of the stupid comments in this news post. If you don't know who Leo Laporte is, don't share your opinion about him, because quite frankly it's not a valid one. I'm actually surprised the amount of people on a tech news site who don't know who Leo Laporte is. Besides that, he was in the right not to take crap from Arrington. The guy is quite frankly an ass and I'm surprised it took this long for someone to call him out.

That techcrunch guy is a ****ing bull**** artist.

Almost all of the **** posted on his site are fabricated stories or half truths.

**** that guy.

Did anyone watch the Gillmor Gang when they came back on air later? There was still some thick drama even though they all made up.

Leo has been trying to get his hands on a Pre for weeks and was really looking forward to reviewing it. I know he was PLANNING to buy one for his review, but apparently got a loaner/review one at the last moment.

Arrington on the other hand is just a tool, and like to try to start crap and discredit other opinions.

And if Leo ever reads this HAIL AIE!!! see you in game.

Yeah Leo Laporte has high ethics. Like when he had Dell as sponsor and talked about Dells being perfect for his mum - and try to make Kevin Rose agree that "we" always used Dells back in the day (Tech-tv or whatever) because they were solid etc. He often mix ads with what appear to be content/own oppinion. Well if he really like X product fine, but a thin line to walk. Was on one of the older Twits. Nobody cares as long as it is not talked about, like Arrington did.

Of course he knows all these semi-hidden conflicts of interest are all over the show. What to do? Back to the basement and do it without ads, gifts etc.? Not an option but not the same as he wants to discuss this or even think about it He and many others are open for attack/critics should they reveal how the "stream" works.

It sounds like you don't quite understand how sponsorship works in the radio. Generally speaking almost all radio shows have sponsors. Many sponsors are companies that have done business with the talent, and get a plug that's more or less a testimonial. This isn't a bad thing if you trust or value the talent's opinion and ethics - which many people do - because they're essentially vouching for the product/company that's sponsoring them.

So why is it a shocker or a "conflict of interest" if Leo supports Dell products if he likes them? Would it not be more disingenuous if he supported products he does not trust or believe in?

First of all it does not make sense to promote the Dell name in such general terms as he did. You dont think Leo is vouching for all xxxxx Dell products do you? And he just happens to feel Dell love when they are sponsoring the show! Come on...

Besides that, yes this is very common. Not really saying it is wrong but that there are conflict of interest all the time in this part to infotainment - a lot more if "journalism" is being used as a label. Not sure about LL. Matter of how it is being done really. The Dell "segment" one with Kevin Rose "right Keven?" or something along those lines, and references to his mums new computer was just over the top. Nobody likes Dell that much ;)

The Dell story was also fairly recent after Leo was proud about how he could run the show without ads. It certainly changed at some point.

Arrington is a douche. Leo Laporte is one of the most respected and ethical members of the tech journalist community and has been for over 30 years.

I think Arrington had a valid concern in pointing out the fact that Leo had a "free" review unit, but he handled it in an aggressive and condescending manner, implying that Leo only liked it because he got it free.

This is exactly why I stopped reading TechCrunch and have no respect whatsoever for Arrington.

Arrington was way out of line, and his comments were definitely meant to imply Leo was somehow biased. Knowing Leo's track record he should have known better. He was definitely trolling.
Leo's reaction was a bit too much maybe, but I can totally relate to it, I probably would have reacted in a similar fashion.

I can't stand Leo Laporte. I don't really know much about the other guy though.

Frankly, this whole thing is ridiculous in my opinion.

Really?! You don't think it's legitimate to get the disclosures of possible paid bias reported out in the open at the outset? I do.

excalpius said,
Really?! You don't think it's legitimate to get the disclosures of possible paid bias reported out in the open at the outset? I do.

This would be a legit argument if this wasn't the way most hardware gets reviewed. The fact that manufacturers hand out their latest and greatest to be reviewed, later to be returned or not is how the items are reviewed. This is common knowledge, so it was completely unprofessional for Arrington to cry like a little school girl about it simply because he's bitter.

Kudos to Leo. I'd also like to add that I couldn't care less for either of them. I don't really respect either of them.

All I heard was one guy ask the simple question (you can't tell who) and the other guy completely freak out about it, even though the first person never said anything along the lines about what he decided to freak out about.

Either way, I didn't think the question was out of line, and the guy freaking out must be hiding something or feeling guilty or else he wouldn't have overreacted.

And I agree with you, getting it and returning it reduces the conflict of interest argument. But we never got that far in this "discussion". He just jumped straight to righteous indignation and the "thou dost protest too much" phase...skipping right past anyone actually asking him if he was on the take or not, haha.

nekkidtruth said,
This would be a legit argument if this wasn't the way most hardware gets reviewed. The fact that manufacturers hand out their latest and greatest to be reviewed, later to be returned or not is how the items are reviewed. This is common knowledge, so it was completely unprofessional for Arrington to cry like a little school girl about it simply because he's bitter.

To be honest, if it were common knowledge then I'm not so sure that people would listen to these people and respect their opinions as they do.

In the world of research and medicine, you're required to disclose sources of funding and close affiliations with companies. Research articles are not submitted as dressy advertisements, but as pure, unbiased research, and there's a lot at stake. It makes sense to have those regulations. A tech review may gut some people of a few hundred dollars, but nobody's going to die over it. Still, it'd be nice if reviewers were totally up-front and honest about stating possible conflicts of interest or biases. When I read a review I want a full, honest review - not an advertisement dressed up as a review from an average user. That's worse than an advertisement, because at least with an advertisement you know that the negatives won't be pointed out and that you should be skeptical.

Ledgem said,
To be honest, if it were common knowledge then I'm not so sure that people would listen to these people and respect their opinions as they do.

In the world of research and medicine, you're required to disclose sources of funding and close affiliations with companies. Research articles are not submitted as dressy advertisements, but as pure, unbiased research, and there's a lot at stake. It makes sense to have those regulations. A tech review may gut some people of a few hundred dollars, but nobody's going to die over it. Still, it'd be nice if reviewers were totally up-front and honest about stating possible conflicts of interest or biases. When I read a review I want a full, honest review - not an advertisement dressed up as a review from an average user. That's worse than an advertisement, because at least with an advertisement you know that the negatives won't be pointed out and that you should be skeptical.

It is absolutely reasonable to expect an unbiased review. That doesn't negate from the fact that this is how the review process works for technology. Under most circumstances, new hardware is released to a select few individuals to form an opinion of the device. As I said, it is common knowledge that companies offer a "trial period" if you will of their device to those in the industry who consumers trust.

Does that mean a company picks and chooses who to review the device? Absolutely. However unethical it is to try and "buy" their review, of course it happens. Anyone who knows even a little about Leo knows that he is not easily "bought" and will give an unbiased review. Regardless of how he obtained the device. He actually makes it a habit to generally purchase a device before reviewing it so this "conflict of interest" no longer exists. So he was absolutely in the right to be angry as Arrington attempted to "call out" Laporte on something he knew very well wasn't true. Publically.

That being said, anyone who takes this story as is and does not attempt to dig a bit further, doesn't understand that Arrington was bitter because he was not given access to the device to review. His theory is Palm didn't like one of his earlier reviews on the device and he may have been axed off "the list" of people who would get a free trial. This is simply a case of "How come you get one and I don't!" which, rather than point the finger at Palm tried to discredit Laporte simply because he felt cheated. He's not in elementary school and what he did was grossly unprofessional.

Techcrunch sucks!, Neowin rocks!, Leo is Cool, even though he lost it with Mike, but is that going to stop me from respecting Leo, no way! i've been a fan of Leo's from when the Screensaver's first aired on TechTV.

What really ****es me off though is how all these guys get the lastest previews of new technology, makes me jealous.

Where's the option for "who gives a flying ****?".

And how awful does it sound for an old man to be using stupid words like "trollish".

That "old man" has been one of the most respected names in tech journalism since you were still p**sin your didies, assuming you've ever stopped. Speaking of trollish...

And Excalpius? Wannabe? Your ignorance is showing through...

pijo said,
And Excalpius? Wannabe? Your ignorance is showing through...

No apparently YOURS is. 8)

Because I have personally worked directly with the heads of Apple, Microsoft, and Intel for almost 20 years, I'd classify ALL "tech journalists" as technology wanna-bes. 8P

But yes, I was indeed being harsh. Point taken.

Leo overreacted badly with the pottymouth verbiage, but was totally correct in calling the guy out.

Reviewers have been getting free versions to demo/evaluate them since the dawn of time. Can you imagine how few reviews we'd actually see for anything if reviewers had to buy all the stuff first. And that's not even taking into account how much stuff is reviewed BEFORE it comes out, making pre-purchasing it an impossibility.

Kudos to Leo for taking a strip off the guy's back, but try to keep it clean next time eh?

Anyone else hate Leo's voice? It's overly fake in every single syllable. Even moreso than Chris Pirillo's face repeated 74 times. Are there any good tech podcasts anymore? I can only think of Neowin's podcasts and GeekBrief.

CrimsonRedMk said,
Anyone else hate Leo's voice? It's overly fake in every single syllable. Even moreso than Chris Pirillo's face repeated 74 times. Are there any good tech podcasts anymore? I can only think of Neowin's podcasts and GeekBrief.

I actually like listing to him. Best around I think.

Take that! lol

On one hand, tech journalists have been getting review things for ever, they have to. They need to get the products before release so that they don't have to go out and buy an expensive piece of hardware.

On the other hand, as funny as the reaction was, i've never heard Leo talk like that ever.. it's a bit disappointing. But still... kick his ass leo! lol

I agree. It hit a nerve that was exposed already.

It's not like Laporte is going to give it a great review anyways.

It has no Apple logo and he lined twice for both iPhone lanches and even dedicated a whole day on TWiT Live for the iPhone 3G launch. Palm will be lucky to get an objective review so they gotta butter up the iCabal.