NYT Invents a Steve Jobs Backlash

Remember how the media all turned negative on Steve Jobs so soon after his death? Me neither.

But don’t tell the New York Times. Today (11/03/11) the paper has a piece by Alex Williams pondering the speed with which the glowing tributes turned into something else–i.e., when “bloggers began their assault.”

That assault, by Williams’ account, consisted of things like this:

“Was Steve Jobs a Good Man, or an Evil Corporate CEO and Wall Street Shill?” asked a contributor on the Occupy Wall Street website.

Then, on the Forbes site, David Coursey, a technology writer, wrote an article called “Steve Jobs Was a Jerk, You Shouldn’t Be,” in which he suggested that Mr. Jobs might have been “a borderline sociopath.”

That OWS blog assault started with this: “As most of us know, Steve Jobs is a great man….” And that Forbes piece was pretty nasty; it called Jobs “a hugely successful genius who changed the world to be how he thought it should be. That is something only Steve could get away with and we are better off for it.” Ouch!

The Times adds that “thevelocity with whichSteve the Saintstories morphed into Steve the Sinner stories was striking.”

Evidence? Here we go:

As for the mainstream press, it cleared its throat, straightened its tie and dived into the fray with the rest of them.

Five days after Mr. Jobs’ death, the British news magazine the Week published a roundup of “anti-Jobs” stories. It included an essay titled “In Praise of Bad Steve” by a writer named D. B. Grady in the Atlantic (“Apple wasn’t built by a saint. It was built by an iron-fisted visionary”); a 2010 investigation in the Mail in England into the “Chinese suicide sweatshop” where iPods are made; and an Op-Ed article in the New York Times by Mike Daisey, a monologist, who pounded Apple for what he saw as Orwellian tactics (“There is no tech company that looks more like the Big Brother from Apple’s iconic 1984 commercial than Apple itself”).

So a British magazine’s roundup of “anti-Jobs” stories included one piece that was actually pro-Jobs, as its headline and the featured quote both indicate; an examination of Apple’s manufacturing that came out the year before Jobs died; and a single op-ed in the Times. Does that really qualify as the mainstream media piling on?

It bears mentioning that even people who admire Jobs’ achievements believe he was a fairly unpleasant person to work for–which is excused as another aspect of his genius.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.