Dear Michael Arrington
Dear Michael Arrington, despite the fact that your latest post on TechCrunch is simply the work of a comment troll in blog form, I will respond to your unsubstantiated, inaccurate allegations because I feel they do harm to Engadget’s brand and my name. I realize that doing so will simply provide more fodder for your overactive imagination, but feel compelled to say what I know is true and I believe needs to be heard in light of your attacks. (To readers of this post, I would also like to say that I do not know Michael Arrington, have never met him in person, have never spoken to him on the phone, and only had a few, unpleasant email exchanges with him. He is all but a stranger to me.)
My response to your points (Mike’s accusations are in italics):
"Only start a fight if you really believe in what you’re saying."
We did not start a fight. You did. Engadget covers technology and consumer electronics. We have all left high school long behind, and no one is interested in airing grievances (if we had any to begin with) in public. We are journalists covering news — hell, we don’t even consider ourselves a blog. Why do you think it would be important for us to know how to “start a fight?”
"Be direct and be clear. Have a position that you believe in. The world is black and white. If you see lots of grey, stay on the sidelines."
Our position is that you are an unstable person, possibly a liar, and we are trying our best to do our jobs while you are trying your best to hurt us for some unclear reason. Your attacks are a distraction.
"Generally you don’t start a fight with a smaller site unless they’ve done something really egregious."
See response 1.
"Don’t engage in French-style military strategy by going half way and then surrendering."
What? Who are you talking about here? Again, this is your fight, not ours.
"Most importantly, don’t just engage in fights you know you’ll win."
Or, if you’re an adult, don’t just engage in fights because you hate to see other people win, or because you want to generate noise before your big awards show.
"In summary, don’t pander to the crowd. It’s pointless."
Advice you should take.
"Last week I threw a few punches at Engadget, our sister site at AOL. They’ve been on our ass for a couple of years now."
In what way?
"They have a major attribution problem, for example, and tend to just steal stories."
Oh! Can you please provide evidence of this? I don’t see any in your post.
"They also get extremely petty, as evidenced by how they covered the CrunchPad story."
This reads like opinion, and not fact. Again, our job is to cover technology and consumer electronics. All sides, not just the ones you like, and not just the way you like. Not liking our coverage doesn’t give you the right to attack our ethics. Petty? Opinion.
"More recently Engadget editor in chief Joshua Topolsky tried to kill our acquisition by AOL."
This is a lie. This did not happen. You can offer no proof of it happening because it did not occur. I can’t be any clearer: you are either making this up, or working off of some bad information.
"And for some strange reason Engadget writers and editors tend to troll our comments pointlessly."
Engadget editor Laura June (who also happens to be my wife) left a comment on a TechCrunch post that said “Slow news day.” This same editor had joked with TechCrunch editor M.G. Siegler on Twitter about the phrase — both acknowledging that the phrase was humorous as it’s often seen by editors on sites with trolls in comments. The comment she left was meant as a lighthearted wink at a TechCrunch editor. Why else would she have used her name and Disqus profile? If you see this as an attack, I’m sorry. It wasn’t. If this is the impetus for your outbursts, rage-filled posts, and invention of facts, I’m at a loss for words.
If we hate you and your writers so much, why would we include them on our Who to follow on Twitter lists? Why would we constantly link to your articles, and why would we engage in otherwise normal behavior with your staff? I invited M.G. and Alexia to drinks for my birthday when I was in San Francisco — why would our people troll them?
"All of these things are facts."
None of them are facts. All of them are your opinions. Some you may believe to be fact, but you’ve either got bad information, or a funny way of defining what a “fact” is.
"After our acquisition by AOL I tried to bury the hatchet with them. I put on my big boy pants and I went out of my way to link to them, retweet them and generally say the past is the past. I suggested we work together on an internal call. We even invited them to participate in the Crunchies. Dead silence on their end, and the trolling continued."
This never happened. At the very least, this has never happened to / with me or has been brought to my attention. So, it’s either a lie, or someone at AOL is not doing their job. Either way, no single person who reports to me at Engadget nor I have had any of these interactions with you or your team. We have had a single, very friendly call with Heather Harde, and that is the end of it.
"So I took my shot. And then they fired back."
We didn’t fire back. I asked you to explain your complaints clearly, or stop talking. You’ve explained your complaints — just not clearly, and without any facts to back up your assertions. So, here we are.
"Not directly, though. They spoke off record to another blog."
Actually, we had to answer to another blog about whether your attacks were true or not. You threw the stone, so don’t be surprised if some glass hits you when the window breaks. I might not want to get into a battle with you on my personal blog, but I’m allowed to defend my brand, team, and name when someone else asks about it.
"Fight directly under your own byline."
Here you go. Congrats!
Take your own advice. We haven’t said a single word that isn’t true.
"Don’t bring civilians into the fight. In this case they trashed Heather Harde, our CEO."
This is 100% untrue. I don’t even know what you’re talking about. Not a single person on my team (nor me!) has ever said an ill word of Heather. We barely know her, and certainly are not attacking her. Again, let’s try and remember that we are professionals with jobs. Those jobs? Covering gadgets! Those jobs are not about making personal attacks on execs at AOL.
"Don’t pretend you’re more important than you are. Engadget made a big deal out of how big they are compared to us, how little we matter, etc."
Again, neither I nor anyone who directly reports to me on my team (that’s the entire editorial staff and our developers) have ever been in a situation where this has occurred. I simply don’t know what you’re referencing at all.
"You don’t publish private emails, particularly just parts of them and out of context."
No one here has published any private emails. However, you might think about who you’ve emailed and all the potential places those emails could have found their way to. My advice? Don’t send insane emails to people.
To recap, I reject your insinuations that we are trying to hurt you or your brand, that we have a personal problem with TechCrunch or Michael Arrington, or that there is ill will on my team for what you are doing or who you are. I reject and deny your accusations that I personally attempted to dissuade AOL from purchasing your company. But most of all, I reject the tactless, childish, public way you chose to air your problems with me and with Engadget. All of this — from top to bottom — could have been cleared up with a single phone call or single email to me, but instead you chose to broadcast your problems to the world, without fact checking, without looking into your hunches, and without doing a single bit of due diligence. As a blogger — dare I say journalist — you’ve failed most of the tests I can think of when it comes to reporting your story. But more importantly (and more tellingly, I think), you’ve failed another test: the one where you act like a considerate or thoughtful human being.
Now please, leave us alone so we can get some work done.
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