At CNBC, you can be wrong, wrong and wrong again, and suffer no consequences. At least that's what appears to be the case with the network's Silicon Valley Bureau Chief and professional Apple apologist, Jim Goldman.
Case in point: The Steve Jobs health watch. In December, when Steve Jobs pulled out of giving the keynote at MacWorld, Goldman quickly moved to assuage fears on a blog post: "I can tell you that sources inside the company tell me that Jobs' decision was more about politics than his pancreas. Sources tell me that if Jobs for some reason was unable to perform any of his responsibilities as CEO because of health reasons, which would include the Macworld keynote, I should 'rest assured that the board would let me know.'"
He blamed "the bizarro world of sell-first-ask-questions-later dominating Wall Street nowadays" for the inevitable dip in Apple shares.
When gadget blog Gizmodo reported that a "previously reliable source" claimed that the real reason for Jobs skipping MacWorld was "his rapidly declining health," Goldman blogged: "You want to know how skittish Apple investors are and how little conviction they have in the company, or trust in its message, look no further than today's Gizmodo rumor fiasco." He characterized Gizmodo's report as "unsourced garbage" that only served to nuke "its shares."
Then Jobs announced that he had an easily treatable hormone imbalance, followed up by his need for a leave of absence.
So it was a pleasant surprise to finally see someone finally confront Apple's favorite journalist on the air Wednesday. Newsweek reporter Dan Lyons, perhaps best known as "Fake Steve Jobs," slapped Goldman around. "There are two kinds of reporters who cover Apple," Lyons said. "The kind who realize they're getting snowed and they're getting bullied and they're getting blocked out, and realize that a lot of what they're being told is not true. And the other kind who suck up to get access and end up getting played and punked, like your Valley bureau chief has been played and punked by Apple."
Lyons told Goldman to apologize to Gizmodo, and for getting it so wrong.
What did Goldman do? He blamed his sources, who, he said, must not have known the real story. No matter how wrong Goldman is, he still stands by his reporting in the way President Bush stands by his handling of Katrina.
In these pages we have listed a litany of Goldman's Apple miscues, a list that seems to grow every week.
AppleTV, Goldman predicted, "has a real shot. The power of technology. The power of Apple and Steve Jobs." Oops.
Apple's stock would bounce back after a precipitous decline: "In these waves of uncertainty, fundamentally, Apple looks like a long-term island in a sea of short-term waves of uncertainty." Double oops.
Apple was destined to release a sub-$1,000 notebook that "stands to have an explosive impact on the PC market." Um, nope.
Now the Steve Jobs health fiasco. Which raises the question, how often can you be dead wrong and not have your boss take you off of the Apple beat? In the case of Jim Goldman and CNBC, apparently never. That not only makes Goldman look like a shill for Apple, it reflects poorly on CNBC.
I googled "CNBC ethics" to look for guidelines governing the network's reporters. The first result was for "The Cascade Northwest Bullmastiff Club" and the second for "Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition."
Ethical guidelines for CNBC the business news network was nowhere to be seen. That about sums it up.