Antonio Garcia Martinez would not gain entry to my inner circle because he seems immature and misogynist.
But should Apple, Inc. fire him as a product engineer on Apple Inc.’s advertising platform on the basis of my feelings, without any evidence that Martinez engaged in illegal harassment on the job?
The answer is no.
Yet, Apple Inc. has effectively banished Martinez from its ranks after only a few months on the job because Apple workers objected to passages in Martinez’ 2016 book about his work as a product manager at Facebook, Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley.
Under the law, a hostile workplace is one where an employee or employees are victims of severe and pervasive “unwelcome conduct” based on a protected characteristic (i.e. sex, race). A few offensive comments generally don’t suffice, let alone one or two overheated passages from a six-year-old book.
If Apple didn’t offer Martinez a hefty financial incentive to voluntarily resign, it may find itself in court in the near future.
The most objectionable passage in Martinez’ book appears to be his contrast of his then-girlfriend – a guerilla type cartoon character taken right out of a video game – with “most” women in Silicon Valley, whom he characterized “soft and weak, cosseted and naive despite their claims of worldliness, and generally full of shit.”
After 45 years in the news business, Marty Baron had no answers for how to address the flailing state of the U.S. media.
Baron, who retired as executive editor of The Washington Post (WP) on Feb. 28, was interviewed Sunday by CBS correspondent Leslie Stahl.
He criticized former GOP President Donald J. Trump for declaring that papers like the WP report “fake news” and for calling reporters the “enemy of the people.” Baron declared that democracy will not die in darkness because of the WP.
Of course, Baron knows that Trump is not the real problem with the media today.
The real problem is that Congress has allowed six corporations to control about 90% of media outlets in United States, and most owners are multi-national corporations that have little or no commitment to the First Amendment or the traditional values of America’s free press.
Baron’s assessment is emblematic of the shocking and extreme dearth of intellectual scholarship about the current and future state of the media.Instead, news anchors and journalism professors are teaching students to capitulate to corporate ownership by losing any semblance of objectivity.
Baron had nothing but praise for Jeff Bezos, the owner of the WP and the owner of Amazon, which many consider to be a monopoly in flagrant violation of U.S. anti-trust laws. Baron said Bezos came to the Post in 2013 with a visionary plan to expand its coverage from a regional newspaper to a national digital publication. (Of course, The New York Times had already launched a digital platform in 1996 and a subscription-based internet paper in 2011.)
The Florida legislature is working on proposed legislation to deter big tech from engaging in partisan political censorship in the state.
The effort, announced by Florida’s GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, is the first legislative response to big tech’s successful effort to silence former GOP President Donald J. Trump and other conservative voices on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
“We’ve seen the power of their censorship over individuals and organizations, including what I believe is clear viewpoint discrimination,’’ said DeSantis, who was accompanied by Florida House Speaker Chris Sprows and Senate President Wilton Simpson, also Republicans.
DeSantis said “the big tech oligarchy” is “more of a clear and present danger to the rights of free speech than the government itself.”
The new “woke” in America may be a growing awareness of the dangers of partisan censorship by big tech and media oligarchs.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, recently identified big tech censorship of conservatives as “probably the most important legislative issue that we’re going to have to get right this year.” He cited the suppression of evidence of influence peddling by GOP President Joe Biden’s family prior to the election and Amazon’s decision to kick Parler, a social media platform, off its cloud server.
Parler’s usage skyrocketed after Twitter ousted former GOP President Donald J. Trump and his supporters. Trump and friends also were kicked off Twitter, Facebook and Google’s YouTube.
Amanda Makki, a former GOP U.S. Congressional candidate, wrote in the Tampa Bay Times that big tech’s actions are “shockingly parallel” to those of oppressive regimes in Iran and Korea. She said her family fled Iran in 1979 to escape government control of the media and censorship. She warned that Amazon, Apple and Google are “banning speech” by conservatives and urged Congress to rein in the monopolies.
It is ironic that an opinion piece in The Washington Post this week argued in favor of regulating companies that dominate our communication infrastructure.
The author, Zephyr Teachout, defended Twitter’s decision to ban President Donald J. Trump from its platform but expressed concern about the threat of “extreme concentration” of corporate power in communications.
Now here’s where irony comes in:
Teachout didn’t mention (understandably) that the owner of the newspaper that hosted her column is Jeff Bezos, who also owns Amazon and its subsidiary, Amazon Web Services (AWS), the leading cloud hosting provider in the country. Bezos is undeniably a dominant force – perhaps the dominant force – in communications and communications’ infrastructure in the United States.
AWS calls itself “the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform… ” It hosts Twitter, Facebook and Linked in, as well as Neflix, ESPN, BBC, Dow Jones, Reddit, Hearst Corp., Turner Broadcasting, top U.S. agencies, (i.e. Department of State and the Food and Drug Administration) and many others.
After Twitter knocked the President off the internet, conservatives flocked by the tens of thousands to Parler, which offers similar services with an emphasis on free speech. Twitter’s stock plunged by seven percent and the Parler app skyrocketed to the top of app store charts.
AWS abruptly “suspended” its provision of cloud hosting services to Parler on Jan. 9, claiming Parler was used to coordinate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building. Parler states in an antitrust lawsuit filed against AWS on Wednesday that no one who has been publicly identified in the Jan. 6 incident even has a Parler account. And yet, Parler has gone completely dark.