CNBC, the cable business network, claims to have "policies and guidelines" that are "strictly followed." One of them appears to be presenting company flacks as secret "sources." Tech reporter Jim Goldman adheres to it religiously.
Bloomberg recently got a scoop about Intel CEO Paul Otellini predicting a first-quarter loss in a conversation with employees circulated internally. It's the kind of story CNBC viewers are hungry for.
But instead of getting the story first, Goldman tried to knock it down. Why? An Intel "source" told him that Otellini's comments didn't come in a "memo," but instead appeared in a "transcript." It's the kind of specious semantics only a flack would engage in, and no competent reporter would buy.
Indeed, later in the piece, Goldman quotes Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy. That makes it look like the extent of Goldman's reporting was this: He spoke to Mulloy and agreed to attribute some of his comments to an unnamed "source" and print other on-the-record comments verbatim, magically transforming a one-source story straight from a company flack into something that looks like it has multiple sources.
What's really bizarre: We've heard that Goldman claims to be tight with Intel chairman Craig Barrett, who is no doubt one of the "tech-industry CEO" sources he cites on air. Former CNBC employees told us Goldman once flew to Brazil with Barrett on an Intel corporate jet and bragged about going on a hunting trip with the tech mogul. So why didn't Goldman get the scoop on Intel's first quarter, if he's so tight with Barrett? There would be far fewer questions about Goldman's reporting if he simply got stories first, and got stories right.