Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

In Interview With Buzzfeed News, Tim Cook Calls for Retraction of Bloomberg ‘Big Hack’ Story

John Paczkowski and Joseph Bernstein, Buzzfeed:

The result has been an impasse between some of the world’s most powerful corporations and a highly respected news organization, even in the face of questions from Congress. On Thursday evening, an indignant Cook further ratcheted up the tension in response to an inquiry from BuzzFeed News.

“There is no truth in their story about Apple,” Cook told BuzzFeed News in a phone interview. “They need to do that right thing and retract it.”

This is an extraordinary statement from Cook and Apple. The company has never previously publicly (though it may have done so privately) called for the retraction of a news story — even in cases where the stories have had major errors or were demonstratively false, such as a This American Life episode that was shown to be fabricated.

What’s wild to me is, if Bloomberg’s story is completely true, no other news organization has been able to independently corroborate it — even in part. Reporters at the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Financial Times all have terrific sources within the tech companies concerned, the Chinese supply chain, and the American government. Surely, if the story is as Bloomberg describes, one of those publications ought to be able to use the story as a starting point to confirm either an ongoing investigation or the existence of the suspicious components, right? Or how about well-connected infosec and supply chain experts — why haven’t they, as Buzzfeed reports, been able to echo any of Bloomberg’s claims?

This is one of the most baffling sagas I can remember. Either the supply chain is hosed and companies like Apple and Amazon really have no idea, they do know and their executives are covering it up in flagrant violation of the law, or an esteemed news organization fucked up to an immense degree. If it’s the latter, Bloomberg is doing themselves no favours by continuing to stand by its increasingly dubious reporting.

How did Bloomberg get this so wrong?