John P. Falcone over at CBS-owned CNET posted a quick piece on Aereo, the TV-over-Internet startup that is giving broadcasters fits. The story, which would have been a short piece on Aereo on a Roku device, is now awash with ridiculous disclaimers and discussions of lawsuits filed against Aereo by broadcasters.
In short, CBS no longer allows CNET to write about (or, more precisely, review) things that are in pending litigation. Because CBS can’t control its own business model, it wants to control CNETs. When the Dish stuff broke I really didn’t think much of it. Now that this is happening, I have no respect for CBS and am losing hope for meaningful change at CNET.
I wish we didn’t have to write about CNET this way. Whatever is going on inside CBS/CNET (I posited a bit here after I talked to friends over there), it’s making the tech reviewing juggernaut look like an absolute joke. It gives sites like Amazon amazing respectability and essentially makes the entire business of tech writing suspect and reduces the amount of valuable information available to readers. It hurts us all.
As Mike writes over here in another story about CNET, we’re supposed to be truth-tellers. To be clear, CNET staffers are not writing dispatches from the Eastern Front when they review an all-in-one printer, but as anyone who has ever looked for a camera or tablet online can tell you, a secure, trusted source for product information is Internet gold. These people get paid to look at cool stuff all day and pass judgement based on certain criteria and past experience. For CBS to figuratively fuck them like this is an absolute travesty.