The Macalope Daily: Phoning it in boys

In a normal world writing favorably about Apple would just be common sense, as the company is doing pretty well. In this world it makes you a “fanboy.”

The Macalope normally wouldn’t care about this, but twice in the last week he’s seen the same shorthand of lazy punditry applied to TechCrunch’s MG Siegler, and he thought it was odd. It’s like that old joke where the woman goes the psychiatrist and says “Doctor! My husband is a pervert!” and the psychiatrist says “That’s ridiculous! It’s absurd! He can’t be!” The woman says “How do you know?” To which the psychiatrist replies, “Because I’m one! And he’s never at any of the meetings!”

Just like any slur, it means the writer has turned his brain off and is just phoning this one in. When Siegler questioned whether or not Microsoft’s Scott Hanselman didn’t just have his password hacked and was being overly sensitive about the wording of Apple’s emails, Bott called it “the canonical Apple fanboy post.” When Siegler suggested Google’s purchase of Motorola Mobile had left Mountain View with its various parts dangling in the wind in terms of patents, Dan Lyons called Siegler an “ultra Apple fanboy.”

Dan’s a professional writer, so he went with “ultra” instead of “to the max” or “extreme” because he can make those tough calls.

But it appears the fix is in. As John Gruber says, Siegler is:

…one of the top writers on the Apple beat, period. Good sources, smart analysis, and he’s been right way way way more often than he’s been wrong.

Which means he makes life uncomfortable for people who like to focus on Apple’s relatively small number of problems, so they prefer to just brand him an “Apple fanboy” and call it a day. All that thinking makes their heads hurt.

Siegler doesn’t need the Macalope’s protection, of course. He’s fully capable of taking care of himself.

This all raises the question: over the past two years, would you have gained more knowledge by reading Lyons, or by having your head up your own ass?

Tough call.

Indeed. Because other than Lyons, Google’s move here doesn’t seem to have been very well received. S&P’s Scott Kessler just told clients to sell Google and Asymco’s Horace Dediu, writing for the Havard Business Review, doesn’t see this as part of some master strategy by Google. But they’re probably both “Apple fanboys” too. As is everyone at S&P and the Harvard Business Review.

When it comes to both Lyons and Bott, their histrionics about Apple’s problems are what show off their biases. As Siegler points out, Lyons claimed Apple should be in a “panic” over the iPhone 4’s antenna problems. Bott, on the other hand, was somewhat more responsible in his coverage of the Mac Defender virus. All 8 kajillion words he wrote about it. Still, his predicted flood of Mac malware has yet to materialize (keep hoping for bad things, Ed!). On Twitter, Bott’s more off-the-cuff, hence MG Siegler is not a journalist or blogger, he’s just a “canonical Apple fanboy.”

Newsflash for Lyons and Bott: The reason people like Siegler and Gruber and this furry beast so often write favorably about Apple is because the company is, by every measure, astoundingly and almost unprecedentedly successful. That should be obvious. In fact, it should be weird to be obsessively writing about the company’s flaws.

Bott chose to make himself an expert in one of Apple’s rare flaws, which is fine and perhaps even helpful. What’s not fine is hurling names at others who dare to suggest Apple nay-sayers are making mountains out of molehills. It’s nice that you’re spending time on this one issue, but try to look up from time to time and see the forest full of Ents storming the castle for the few trees with Dutch elm disease.

Lyons, his Fake Steve gig having been shuttered like a knockoff Apple Store, can no longer play a visionary jerk, so he seems content to play a jerk with blinders on. Why he would do that under his own name is beyond the Macalope.

These guys, and others like them, are dying to be the first to call Apple’s decline. For some reason, Apple’s popularity seems to irk them, as seen in Bott’s sarcastic follow up tweet.

Surely Apple can have no problems. You are holding it wrong.

Of course, Siegler never said that. The Macalope doesn’t want to be too hard on Bott for a couple of flip comments on Twitter. His posts on Mac Defender have been more reasonable. All 97 of them.

He does, however, want to be too hard on Lyons because, like Siegler, most right-thinking people question how dumping your last two years worth of profit on an also-ran OEM with dubious patents could be a sign of brilliance.

But the flip disregard from both Lyons and Bott is the crux of the Macalope’s complaint about the term in question. It attempts to reduce anything the person says to the dismissible rantings of a lunatic. If Bott doesn’t have the time to address Siegler’s arguments at length, maybe he shouldn’t address them at all. If Lyons can’t keep up with Siegler’s arguments, maybe he should finally shut up about Apple.

[Editors’ Note: In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

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