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Did Steve Jobs call Mark Fiore a liar?

I was sent the following transcript from an appearance by Steve Jobs to D8 where he was interviewed about Apple and its products. During the interview, he mentioned Mark Fiore’s animated editorial cartoon app. He later mentioned when apps are rejected, “people lie” about the rejection to get press attention. Here is the transcript section in question.

7:19PM Steve: We’re doing the best we can, we’re fixing mistakes. But what happens is — people lie. And then they run to the press and tell people about this oppression, and they get their 15 minutes of fame. We don’t run to the press and say “this guy is a son of a bitch liar!” — we don’t do that.

7:18PM Walt: So what happened with this candidate?

Steve: We had a rule that said you can’t defame other people.

Kara: Determined by your app people.

Steve: Yes… and political cartoons got caught in that. We didn’t think of that. So this guy submits his app and he gets rejected. We didn’t see that coming. So we changed the rule, but this guy never resubmitted… then he wins a Pulitzer Prize, and he says we rejected him. So, we are guilty of making mistakes. We’re doing the best we can, we’re learning as fast as we can — but we thought this rule made sense.

In fairness, a couple of things ought to be pointed out before Jobs gets blasted for calling Mark a liar. The first is, is this a word for word transcript or a summation by engadget? Is Jobs talking generally abuot developers who run to the press or just Mark? And lastly, when reviewing the chronology of events, Mark never ran to the press. He mentioned, almost off-handedly, that his app had been rejected and that part of the interview went viral.

Community Comments

#1 Tom Richmond
June/2/2010
@ 11:53 am

Well, if he is talking about Mark then I’d point out to Steve Jobs that Mark won a PULITZER PRIZE, and doesn’t need Apple to get his 15 minutes of fame. He got it and then some with his work.

What an ego on that guy (Steve, not Mark).

#2 JP Trostle
June/2/2010
@ 12:08 pm

Not to mention, if he was talking about Mark then I’d like to point out to Steve Jobs that Apple contact Fiore after he won the Pulitzer and asked him to resubmit… meaning *Apple* was the one hoping to gain from Fiore’s fame.

Just sayin’.

#3 JP Trostle
June/2/2010
@ 12:19 pm

btw, since this surfaced, some of us have been looking to clarify what Steve Jobs said, and who he was calling a liar.

As Alan noted, the item came from a live blog, and is not yet verified as a direct quote. Also, was Jobs [allegedly] accusing Fiore of being a liar, or was he referring to one of the other cartoonists whose apps have been rejected and who went public about it?

Most importantly, if Apple has indeed, as Jobs says “changed the rule,” than why do editorial cartoonists keeping having their cartoon apps rejected even after the episode with Fiore.

REgardless, it was obviously a poor choice of words for Jobs. Either he is seen as attacking his own content providers for questioning Apple, or he looks out of touch with what his own company is doing.

#4 Dave Stephens
June/2/2010
@ 12:49 pm

He is admitting they made a mistake. He is apologizing for that mistake.

The first quote, taken IN CONTEXT, clearly shows he is talking about people OTHER than Mark who squawk about their app’s rejection. I read the whole transcript, start to finish – took a couple minutes, one main point being the main reasons people’s apps are rejected are technical reasons, i.e., that their apps crash, use illegal API’s or have misleading descriptions, etc. and then a few of these folk simply LIE about the reasons for their apps rejection, NONE of which apply to Mark.

No accusations here about Mark, simply an apology TO Mark and by way of association, an apology to Tom Richmond and all other cartoonists who might have submitted a political app.

#5 JP Trostle
June/2/2010
@ 1:32 pm

Really Dave? Which “transcript” were you reading? Even if — as you are supposing — it was all a verbatim quote, virtually everything Jobs allegedly said after “So this guy submits his app and he gets rejected” can be proven false or misleading.

1) “So this guy submits his app and he gets rejected. We didn’t see that coming.”

Even though Tom Richards and Daryl Cagle, to name but two, had the same public fight with Apple in 2009.

2) “So we changed the rule, but this guy never resubmitted… ”

Exactly when did they “change” the rule? And did they alert the rejectees about this? Hell, did Apple alert their own people? Because Cagle was again rejected a week after Fiore’s app was accepted. Plus, from other accounts, it doesn’t sound like Apple has changed ANY rule, merely granted exceptions.

3) “then he wins a Pulitzer Prize, and he says we rejected him.”

Maybe because they did? The simple fact is Apple did not invite Mark to resubmit until 3 days after he won the Pulitzer, and after various reporters picked up on the fact that Apple had rejected him 4 months previously (during which time, by the way, Mark made no effort to broadcast that he had been rejected.)

4) “So, we are guilty of making mistakes.”

You really should have stopped there, Steve…

5) “But what happens is — people lie. And then they run to the press and tell people about this oppression, and they get their 15 minutes of fame. We don’t run to the press and say “this guy is a son of a bitch liar!” — we don’t do that.

(Except just then, when you said it to tech reporters from the Wall Street Journal, who were hosting the conference at which you were speaking. But hey, why quibble over details….)

Forget the “liar” part … lie about what? The fact that he was rejected? As has been pointed out above, and elsewhere ( http://voices.washingtonpost.com/comic-riffs/2010/06/steve_jobs_calls_pulitzer_cart.html ), Mark didn’t run to the press, and didn’t make any sort of deal out of his rejection UNTIL Apple revisited it because of the bad PR.

For the record, this was just a flat-out stupid thing for Jobs to say, if for no other reason than it reopens a p.r. spill that Jobs had already capped. Heck of job Stevie

#6 Michael Cavna
June/2/2010
@ 1:35 pm

To second what Alan wrote: Mark did not “run to the press.” Hours after he won, I asked him a direct question about whether he was pursuing an iPhone app or other mobile content. (This was a natural question after my having after spoken to Daryl and Tom about their own app-submission experiences.)

That said: When I exchanged e-mails with Mark earlier today, he himself wondered whether Jobs was calling him a “liar.”

–MC

#7 Dave Stephens
June/2/2010
@ 4:17 pm

————————————-
excerpt from transcript
————————————-

7:20PM Kara: So in terms of publishing these rules more clearly…

Walt: I talk to developers all the time, but they express to me that they’re confused…

Steve: 95% are approved within 7 days…

Walt: So you don’t think it could be better?

Steve: I do, but I want to remind you.

7:19PM Steve: We’re doing the best we can, we’re fixing mistakes. But what happens is — people lie. And then they run to the press and tell people about this oppression, and they get their 15 minutes of fame. We don’t run to the press and say “this guy is a son of a bitch liar!” — we don’t do that.

————————————-
END excerpt from transcript
————————————-

It’s clear to me he’s talking about DEVELOPERS IN GENERAL, not about anyone in PARTICULAR.

UNTIL this next part of the conversation.
————————————-
excerpt from transcript
————————————-

7:18PM Walt: So what happened with this candidate?

Steve: We had a rule that said you can’t defame other people.

Kara: Determined by your app people.

Steve: Yes… and political cartoons got caught in that. We didn’t think of that. So this guy submits his app and he gets rejected. We didn’t see that coming. So we changed the rule, but this guy never resubmitted… then he wins a Pulitzer Prize, and he says we rejected him. So, we are guilty of making mistakes. We’re doing the best we can, we’re learning as fast as we can — but we thought this rule made sense.

————————————-
END excerpt from transcript
————————————-

#8 JP Trostle
June/2/2010
@ 4:31 pm

Dave, your transcript seems to have cut off before the salient point:

“Then we changed the rules?and in the meantime, the cartoonist won a Pulitzer?.But he never resubmitted his app. And then someone asked him, ?Hey why don?t you have an iPhone app?? He says we rejected it and suddenly, it?s a story in the press?.Bottom line is, yes, we sometimes make mistakes?but we correct them?.We are doing the best we can, changing the rules when it makes sense. What happens sometimes is that some people lie, we find it, and reject it, and they run to the press, and get their 15 minutes of fame and hope it will get us to change our minds. We take it on the chin, and we move on.?

http://d8.allthingsd.com/20100601/steve-jobs-session/

#9 Rich Diesslin
June/2/2010
@ 10:02 pm

Like Jobs didn’t originally rip off Xerox development to create the Mac. Yeah, right Steve! Who’s a … what did you call it? ;)

#10 Jeff Stanson
June/3/2010
@ 7:54 am

In today’s world, a Pulitzer is a politically-biased award, not an award given any longer for pure merit. No need to be in awe of the award or anyone given the award.

It’s really unclear whether Jobs was addressing this particular case when the statement was made. However, Jobs has proven his ability to create new technologies that create new jobs, improving the American economy and making the American market more valuable. Other companies need to follow suit, by focusing on products rather than focusing on buying and selling companies. Jobs is part of the solution, not part of the problem.

#11 Brad Hutchings
June/3/2010
@ 9:04 am

@JP… There is a disclaimer at the top of that transcript:

A note about our coverage: This liveblog is not an official transcript of the conversation that occurred onstage. Rather, it is a compilation of quotes, paraphrased statements and ad-lib observations written and posted to the Web as quickly as possible. It is not intended as a transcript and should not be interpreted as one.

#12 JP Trostle
June/3/2010
@ 9:38 am

Yeah, Brad — There’s a disclaimer from me as well at the top of the comments (actually #3)… granted, hasn’t stopped me from speculatin’ but still.

I did hear back from Jobs himself last night and he said: “What was wrote was not what was said.” If anyone finds a link to a complete transcript or, better yet, the actual video of the entire talk, please post it here so we can judge for ourselves.

All I’ve found so far are short outtakes (none of which cover the time in question), or paraphrased liveblogs (which don’t paint what jobs said in a good light).

#13 Milt Priggee
June/3/2010
@ 1:12 pm

OK- Jobs didn’t call Fiore a liar…and Jobs can’t be quote as saying he /app people made a mistake rejecting Fiore, political cartoons or caricatures.

The bottom line IS…. Apple used the very criteria of a political cartoon ….to reject a political cartoon app submission.

There is NO excuse whatsoever for this (supposed mistake) especially from somebody who professes to want to help newspapers.

Below is from E&P…

Steve Jobs: I Want to Help Newspapers

CHICAGO
Speaking at the D8 conference in an interview with The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, Apple Chairman Steve Jobs declared he wanted to help save the newspaper business. His advice, AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka reports: Price aggressively and go for volume on mobile apps.

“I don?t want to see us descend into a nation of bloggers myself. I think we need editorial more than ever,” Jobs said.

#14 Mike Peterson
June/4/2010
@ 4:26 am

Hey, let’s be nice to Jobs. He’s one of the folks who helped create the great new technology that has made Dead Tree Journalism obsolete.

You know — that old fashioned thing where you had to make sure you got it right about who said what and your editor would make sure you had it in context and then everyone would have to wait until the next day to read it.

(Granted, those who didn’t like the coverage still complained that you’d gotten it all wrong …)

#15 JP Trostle
June/4/2010
@ 9:42 am

Hey, I’m more than happy to absolve Steve of the ‘fiore=liar’ comment … if a transcript ever comes out that we can check for ourselves.

But beyond that, the bigger issue is Job’s clear assertion that Apple already changed their rules re: cartoonists when all the evidence points against it. There’s also the little matter of him rewriting the history of the incident a la 1984’s Ministry of Information:

http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/06/jobs-apple-satire-ban/

To paraphrase Big Brother, “We have always been at war with Adobe”…

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