CNET reporter quits after reports that CBS impinged on editorial decision
Hello all. Sad to report that I've resigned from CNET. I no longer have confidence that CBS is committed to editorial independence.
— Greg Sandoval (@sandoCNET) January 14, 2013
His departure follows the news that CNET owner CBS bigfooted the publication during last week's Consumer Electronics Show, forcing it to remove a Dish Network product from its annual awards program. CBS is one of the networks suing Dish over its Hopper, a digital recorder that makes it easy for viewers to skip ads.
The Hopper would have actually taken top spot in those awards, The Verge's Joshua Topolsky reports.
Apparently, executives at CBS learned that the Hopper would win "Best of Show" prior to the announcement. Before the winner was unveiled, CBS Interactive News senior-vice president and General Manager Mark Larkin informed CNET's staff that the Hopper could not take the top award. The Hopper would have to be removed from consideration, and the editorial team had to re-vote and pick a new winner from the remaining choices. Sources say that Larkin was distraught while delivering the news — at one point in tears — as he told the team that he had fought CBS executives who had made the decision.
(That said, Dish is hardly a worker's paradise by comparison, going by a remarkable Businessweek piece from earlier this month.)
CNET Editor-in-Chief Lindsey Turrentine confirms Hopper had won and that CBS voided the award after CNET informed the suits. "I could have quit right then," she writes:
I decided that the best thing for my team was to get through the day as best we could and to fight the fight from the other side. Every single member of the CNET Reviews team is a dedicated, ethical, passionate technology critic. If I abandoned them now, I would be abandoning the ship.
Sandoval tweeted that he's not disgruntled: "CBS and CNET were great to me," he said. "I just want to be known as an honest reporter."