Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives are fed up with The New York Times after weeks of what they see as overtly antagonistic coverage.

January 4, 2019 | Hollywood


Good morning. Welcome to Wild Card/Golden Globe Weekend. We pick Texans, Seahawks, Chargers and Bears ... and Gaga.


Dianne Feinstein picks Biden, Martin O'Malley picks Beto.


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Mark Zuckerberg vs. the Times


What's Next: Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives are fed up with The New York Times after weeks of what they see as overtly antagonistic coverage that betrays an anti-Facebook bias, several sources at the social media giant tell me.


• The frustration was rekindled this week after the Times bought a sponsored post on Facebook to promote "a step-by-step guide to breaking up with" Facebook and Instagram — a move sources likened to Facebook taking out an ad in the Times encouraging readers to cancel their subscriptions.


• The sponsored ad came after weeks of Times articles that cast Facebook as a reckless, data-hungry behemoth with little regard for user privacy or the integrity of American politics. These articles were aggressively promoted across the Times' social media accounts and in push notifications.


• Facebook sources believe some of the paper's reporters willfully ignored nuances about how the internet works in order to cast Facebook in the worst-possible light, either because the paper is hell-bent on crippling the social media network or because it is gunning for a Pulitzer Prize.


• Facebook spokesperson: "No comment."


The View from the Times: Asked to respond to the criticism, Times executive editor Dean Baquet told me Facebook was "a big company with unusual power that finds itself in the middle of some of the largest issues of the day — privacy and political meddling."


• As for the sponsored ad, Baquet said: "There is no connection between our coverage of Facebook and the company's business dealings with Facebook."


• "Many of the stories were done by the investigative team. Others were done by business news reporters who cover the company. The stories grew organically from the controversies surrounding Facebook and elections," Baquet said. "As the person who oversees the newsroom, the only discussions I've had with Facebook were about the stories."


The Big Picture: The New York Times is the vanguard of a new age of tech journalism in which reporters are taking a more aggressive and adversarial stance toward Silicon Valley and its leaders. Depending on where you stand, the new posture is either long overdue or a threat to the traditional standards of fair and impartial coverage.


Beginning of a trend? .... The Times is facing multiple charges of bias this week: In a new book, former executive editor Jill Abramson criticizes the paper for "unmistakably anti-Trump" coverage that runs afoul of its stated commitment to covering the news "without fear or favor."


• Some at Facebook believe you could easily substitute "anti-Facebook" for "anti-Trump."


Meanwhile ... Zuckerberg has halted his stock sales.


Stephanie Keith/Getty

Tim Cook's tide turns at Apple


Apple CEO Tim Cook, long one of the most widely respected executives in American business, is watching the tide of public opinion turn against him after a sales shortfall in China that has raised questions about his ability to innovate and take the company beyond its reliance on the iPhone.


Cook has been criticized not just for failing to anticipate the shortfall but for his response to it, which effectively amounts to finding new ways to encourage customers to upgrade their Apple products more frequently.


The Pushback, via Bloomberg's Shira Ovide:


• "Tim Cook Needs Better Ideas Than This ... Encouraging iPhone trade-ins isn’t going to counter the growth trends working against the company."


The Big Question, via Recode's Kara Swisher:


"Is This the End of the Age of Apple? ... There is no question that Mr. Cook and his team have done a tremendous job taking advantage and managing this last cycle of innovation, but it’s apparent that it’s now winding down."

Crazy stat of the day, via Ovide: "Apple has lost a Facebook of market value in two months," or more than $400 billion.


• "What Should You Do About a Falling Stock Market?Nothing," NYT's Neil Irwin says. "If you had a perfect ability to predict how far the market would fall and when it would bottom out, it would make sense to move money in and out. But you do not." 

The Biggest Picture: The fate of the global economy may rest on whether or not Chinese consumers continue to spend money.


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Market Links


Ajit Pai cancels his CES appearance, again (Verge)


Bob Iger offers free college degrees to employees (WSJ)


Jim VandeHei launches Axios Sports (Axios)



Rachel Maddow, kingmaker


MSNBC's Rachel Maddow is poised to play the role of Democratic kingmaker in 2020 as her No. 1 show becomes a must-stop on the primary campaign trail, Politico's Jason Schwartz and David Siders report:


• "With ratings surging at MSNBC, political strategists and communications experts say getting air time on the left-leaning network, and the Rachel Maddow Show in particular, could be crucial for candidates looking to separate themselves from what is expected to be a crowded Democratic field."


• "Those with strong preexisting relationships with the host, such as [Elizabeth] Warren ... could stand to benefit."


• "Maddow, who is known for her progressive positions, won’t feel compelled to give all the many Democratic candidates equal time, said one person familiar with the thinking at the network about the primaries."


The Big Picture: A Republican incumbent and a wide-open Democratic primary portends big returns for MSNBC, which "is in the midst of a ratings boom, as the network of choice for Democrats and other anti-Trumpers."


• Maddow "averaged the second most viewers on cable news during 2018, with 2.9 million nightly per Nielsen, and finished the year with ... the No. 1 spot for that week of December, averaging 3.21 million viewers."

What's Next: CES kicks off next week in Las Vegas. The Verge looks at what we can expect from the biggest tech show of the year. 


See you Monday.


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