Jul 13

CNN’s Apple sensationalism

Actually, CNN’s objectivity appears to be headed in the wrong direction

Sensationalism is hardly anything new in the news biz. Death, destruction and scandal have always been good draws.

But there’s a big difference between reporting about sensational things and misrepresenting facts for the purpose of sensationalizing.

At the very least, you’d think that when it comes to business news, a major news organization would go out of its way to be objective. Yet CNN seems unable to resist jumping on the “Apple is doomed” bandwagon.

Recently, it featured a poorly-written Apple-bashing Mashable article on its front page along with the real news.

Last week it descended even further.

Just one day before Apple’s quarterly earnings report, CNN readers saw a front-page story entitled “Apple to report dismal results.” Those were the exact words — presented as fact, not speculation.

Once you clicked, the story’s headline was “This is what a bad quarter for Apple looks like.” Again, it was presented as fact — along with a main visual (above) that seemingly captured Apple’s ominous descent.

Only when the reader got to the meat of the story (or followed the asterisks in the graph) would he discover that this was all based on “analysts projections.”

Of course, we all know that the analysts have a fairly laughable record when it comes to forecasting Apple’s performance. We also know that in context the graph is totally misleading. The two quarters following the holidays always show softer sales at Apple — as they do for every consumer electronics company.

So what happened the next day?

Apple’s results top estimates as iPhone sales hit record for quarter,” said the LA Times. Similar stories ran on every news site, including CNN — which ultimately had to report the real news.

Quite the opposite of CNN’s expected “dismal results,” Apple’s record-setting iPhone sales lifted the stock about 20 bucks the next day.

Strangely, CNN’s article actually did note (near the end) that Verizon had just reported a surprising increase in iPhone sales. Rather than take this verified fact as a clue, the article instead threw its weight behind the rumors and speculation.

Good work, CNN.

But next time, if you feel compelled to turn opinion into news, try publishing your article a few weeks before the real numbers are announced. That way, you might not look so silly just 24 hours later.


  • Andrew Fields

    Since when has CNN been a real news organization? People lump on Fox, but these other networks are no better. What I don’t quite understand is why people in the Apple community, like Ken Segall or Jim Dalrymple, bother having indignation over such articles. They’re just headlines looking for clicks, and trying to analyze them or criticize from a rational point of view is a waste of time.

  • hannahjs

    It’s simple, Andrew. People in the tech community are trying to keep the news media honest. Seemingly, the media aren’t bothering to police themselves any more.

  • Andrew

    But what if the intended purpose is not to be honest — as Ken outlined? One is just arguing into a void. I doubt Andrew Mayer read any of the criticism of his work… And there has been lots. Jim Dalrymple wrote a rare lengthy rebuttal against him, and the Macalope at MacWorld wrote his trademark diatribe against the same CNN piece.

  • jameskatt

    CNN has turned to evil rather than telling the truth. It is also called yellow journalism.

    Many pundits simply lie to get eyeballs, desperate as they are.

  • yet another steve

    What’s with that graphic. Since when is $7B half of $8B?
    That jumped out at me before I read a single word.
    Clearly the horizontal bottom is of the bars is not zero. That’s a weasel trick when labelled, and a flat out lie when not (as it is not labeled here.)
    Whenever I see so-called “journalism” cover something I understand, I realize there was never any such thing. It’s just another entertainment business.

    But hey James Earl Jones SOUNDS like news.

  • GT

    not surprised cnn did this. they do it with every bit of news they broadcast these days. I gave up watching them and the others a couple of years ago. Now I just watch BBC

  • Merckel

    It’s a lousy chart that misleads the viewer, including using the seasonality of sales against it and putting both sales and profit numbers on the same axis. I was expecting CNBC to be accused of using negative news on a high profile company for ratings, not CNN.

  • Chaka10

    Notice all the bad press today about that tired old saw about labor issues among “Apple suppliers” (not a Taiwan manufacturer for multiple OEMs, but specifically Apple)? Jumped on multiple times by “Business Insider”. Yet Apple was up almost 2%. Imagine that news coming out before the earrings …. I think this says a ton.

  • qka

    James Earl Jones recorded that bit for CNN so long ago that he now sounds like history.

  • qka

    Business Insider – makes CNN et al. look reputable.

  • Chaka10

    They will notice soon, if not already, that the old themes are whistling into the wind. Then they’ll change their tune as if they knew it, the new “it”, all along.

  • Chaka10

    They will notice soon, if not already, that the old themes are whistling into the wind. Then they’ll change their tune as if they knew it, the new “it”, all along.

  • I watch absolutely no new on TV now. Gave up about a year or so ago. Get my news via RSS.

  • Jessica Darko

    CNN hasn’t really had credibility as a news organization for at least a decade.

    I think the interesting question– at least to me– is what should Apple do?

    The line up of media outlets bashing Apple dishonestly is extensive, and they seem emboldened by the fact that Apple will not refute these claims publicly, only letting results speak for themselves.

    Consequently, I bet %99 of the average people who read the CNN article claiming Apple produced terrible results never noticed that it was proven false a day later, and are left with the impression that it is true.

    I remember in mid 2003 or so, when someone insisted to me that Microsoft owned Apple, and had bought them in the late 1990s. They remember the “strategic investment” and concluded that Apple was a subsidiary of Microsoft. No amount of insistence on my part would convince them, because, despite being and Apple user for decades, I was just a person, and the news outlet she read that on, was authoritative.

    How many sales does Apple lose each year because someone thinks Android is superior and Apple is failing?

    It must be impacting the bottom line.

  • Jessica Darko

    In Jim’s case it’s pretty hypocritical for him to lump on CNN when he publishes lies and BS himself… and then when it’s pointed out to him, he bans you from commenting on his articles.

    So, not only is he dishonest, he tries to hide the fact!

  • Jessica Darko

    He got paid in the 1980s, but his voice is still being used.

  • I too had many friends who thought that Microsoft bought Apple way back then. Probably some still think that and shocked when MS Office doesn’t come automatically with each Mac they buy.

  • Faysal Sulatch SPHR PHR


  • Nameless Coward

    Thats why for real good news and in depth news information I go to infowars.com. Because there is a war on for your mind.

  • CNN, Consistently Not News!