New York Times Ethics Cop Mulls the Many Masters of David Pogue

NYT Public Editor Clark Hoyt: our love affair continues. You're like the Internal Affairs of the Times! All the cops/writers probably hate/fear you. Especially after giving David Pogue a curbside beating for shilling his Apple book with a Times review.

See, NYT tech columnist David Pogue reviewed Apple's new operating system, Snow Leopard, for the Times. He gave it a very positive, wonderful, glowing review, calling it "sleek" in the headline. Which might be troublesome when viewed in light of his book about how to use Snow Leopard! Sleek!

Now, watch Clark bring down the Hammer of Hoyt upon his face:

I presented the facts to three ethicists: Kelly McBride at the Poynter Institute, a journalism training center in Florida; Bob Steele, a professor at DePauw University and a scholar at Poynter; and Stephen Ward, director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. All agreed that Pogue and The Times were facing a clear conflict of interest.

Aw, shit, son! You got yourself a C.O.A.. Hoyt then proceeds to go all Denzel in Training Day on him, and the rest of the Times:

Pogue is by no means the only Times writer with other interests. Thomas Friedman commands $75,000 for a speech, and his books are blockbusters. Another Op-Ed columnist, Frank Rich, is a consultant helping HBO develop new programming. A. O. Scott, the film critic, is about to become co-host of "At the Movies," produced by ABC Media Productions. Mark Bittman, The Minimalist, an independent contractor like Pogue, writes cookbooks and appears on PBS. John Harwood, who writes from Washington, is CNBC's chief Washington correspondent.

Okay, great. So Hoyt goes on to name the various levels on which this is a sticky conflict of interest, and the different ways in which the Times tries to circumnavigate this kind of situation. And the end result of all of Hoyt's bustin' heads?

Larry Ingrassia, the business editor, said that, prompted by my questions, editors decided to make disclosures to readers regarding Pogue's outside activities. On his Times Topics page online, Pogue posted a statement of ethics, saying manufacturers have no involvement in his manuals and that from now on, if he is writing a book about a product he is reviewing, he will disclose it to readers. It says his personal investments are in a blind trust to avoid any question of reviewing products in which he has a direct financial interest. A disclosure was appended to the Snow Leopard column online.

Times' readers get a disclosure. That's it. Not a vigilant, angry, pissed off tech nerd who's willing to actively take the piss out of Apple no matter what the consequence, but some guy who's basically a symbiotic leech of their company's product, and a statement for their readers that they know he's one.

Hoyt may have a badge, a gun, and a big nightstick, but he ain't allowed to kill with it. Which is too bad. Because with kickers like this...

It was good that The Times addressed the issue now. Windows 7 is being released within a month. Pogue is planning to review it. The "Missing Manual" is already for sale.

...you know Hoyt would be pistol-whipping sucka bitch Times conflict-of-interest-perpetrating writers like it was nobody's business.

Bill Keller, are you listening? This man is your deadliest enforcer.