It's hard to imagine David Pogue's public image going through a worse month than it has in May. First, hewas detained and charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly banging his wife, who he's in the process of divorcing, over the head with an iPhone. Then he finds out about the news being made public while speaking at conference about preventing domestic violence. ("I don't think that's appropriate for the forum," he said when asked to comment on the incident.) And then today, The Daily Beast's Dan Lyons reports that Pogue's girlfriend since December is Nicki Dugan, a Silicon Valley PR executive whose company represents many of the products that Pogue's popular New York Times gadget blog reviews. This new story doesn't just make Pogue look bad: Lyons makes a strong case for why the Times is compromised, too, by a glaring conflict of interest.
The official stance from both the gadget guru and his editor at the paper of record is that as long as Pogue doesn't write about companies Dugan is representing, everything is fine. “People have romances all the time,” New York Times technology editor Damon Darlin told Lyons. “He hasn’t written about any companies that she is representing." That sounds like a job for some quick investigative journalism! Nicki Dugan and David Pogue have been dating since December, and so Lyons stacked companies represented by Dugan's agency, OutCast Agency, against companies Pogue has covered since then and bullet-points his findings. We're parahprasing:
- Pogue offered a positive review of OutCast client Amazon in March.
- Pogue said disparaging things about Netflix competitor Zediva also in March. Netflix is an OutCast client OutCast.
- Pogue lauded Bloom Energy in a PBS special in February. Bloom is one of Dugan's clients at OutCast.
- Pogue wrote about Groupon in February and Skype in March. Both are backed by the venture capital firm Andreessen-Horowitz, one of Dugan's clients at OutCast.