If you thought the long trusted tech-review site CNET's ethical dilemma with its parent company was a one-time scandal, well, it's set an unfortunate precedent: Even after a contentious fight this week to turn it around, CBS is still enforcing a made-up rule making CNET tip-toe around lawsuits and products that the media giant sees as a threat. All of this is still happening under the banner of both reviews and news, all with petty disclosures and lame coverage, and it's all bringing down CNET as we know it.
Remember, following the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, when CBS wouldn't let CNET give an award to the Dish Slingbox that everyone loves because of a conflict of interest? And remember how it turned out that it all stemmed from CBS chief Les Moonves, and that it was threatening the credibility of the site? Well, from now on CNET has to abide by the policy banning reviews involved in CBS litigation — despite "an all-hands meeting" that was supposed to turn it around, and despite the new reality that it's applying to news and reviews.
The effects of the extremely controversial policy are on full display in this post from Thursday night about an update to Aero, the Barry Diller-owner broadcast television streaming service that has networks scared. The policy seems to have turned writer John P. Falcone's article ino the tale of CBS's lawsuit with the cord-cutting company, rather than news that Aereo now has a partnership with Roku. It's not very useful for readers — at least not given the gadget-news reputation CNET has long held — and it's no wonder that "people are pissed off,' as sources inside CNET tell Jim Romenesko.