My November 2014 electronic mail to longtime correspondent John Gruber (links added; mildly edited):
Checking my Eudora archive, I see I have been feeding you links and otherwise corresponding with you for ten full years. I am kept at a careful distance that passes for respect most of the time. But all the while, I have not been Your Kind of People, namely fellow-traveller technology bloggers and podcasters whom you host on your own podcast to recapitulate every point we easily could have read in our RSS feeds or heard on their podcasts. Guests and topics on your podcast are interchangeable for the simple reason that the podcast exists for its three sponsor breaks, not because you have any restrictions anywhere on what you can express that only a podcast can redress.
So let’s stipulate for a moment that you are in fact committing journalism on Daring Fireball. (Not just “writing.”) It’s advocacy journalism mixed with opinion, but journalism nonetheless. If you ever pretended to respect me before, you need to really do so now.
You don’t need to be a Daring Fireball RSS sponsor to figure out what my topic is. Obviously it’s your aiding and abetting the closet by never ever talking about Tim Cook’s being gay. After I sent its URL along, you were happy to link to the Australian marriage-equality PSA, which stands as proof of nothing more than a public attestation of your liberal bonafides. You guys in the computer press are so liberal you put Tim Cook back in the closet. I know you read that posting when it came out or at some point before a week and a half ago, yet you did nothing.
Your Kind of People have been culpable to varying degrees in this conspiracy of silence – Glenn Fleishman most of all, Jason Snell least. Marco Arment and the Macalope stand by their previous coverage. Three of those four are your good pals. You are not as bad as Fleishman, but today as we sit here you are worse than Snell.
It was even more disingenuous of you to link to Kara Swisher. Here’s how we expect her to behave:
“I essentially called him a pig, with my name attached,” Swisher says. “You have to stand up and not be embarrassed or victimized.” When she subsequently saw McLaughlin at a party, she says, he told her, “ ‘Most people in this town stab you in the back, but you stabbed me in the front, and I appreciate that.’ I said ‘Anytime, you son of a bitch.’ ”
How did this lesbian actually handle her unique access to Tim Cook? She too aided and abetted the closet. She can boast the most beautiful artisanal, hand-sewn, small-batch excuses for doing so of any technology writer, but that’s all they are – excuses.
Swisher had access, but you are the richest and most powerful Apple journalist. You have by definition the least to lose by taking a stand. Here, “taking a stand” means accurately reporting that Tim Cook was and is gay all along. Your previous statement is a dodge and you know it:
I thought [Snell’s attitude] was more like my “If he’s not going to say it, I’m not going to write about it” position.
That’s an enunciation of the closet. The closet benefits no one but straight people. I’ve explained this before, too.
“I’m not going to state that the most powerful CEO in the world is gay” when he is gay is no different from lying about him. Nobody likes a double standard, except of course heterosexualists. Being gay is not “private” or a secret. You have a fraction of the public profile of Cook, yet you talk about your missus and son all the time. When will you stop shoving your heterosexuality down our throats?
What if I drew a comparison with Anita Sarkeesian? She too was at Xoxo, but not in a position of congratulating a victor, as you were.
One of the most radical things you can do is to actually believe women when they talk about their experiences
When a gay journalist tells you for years that your coverage is not just false and misleading by omission but actively so, the most radical thing you can do is believe him.
The next-most-radical thing you can do is put him on your podcast, as he had suggested twice before. It would be the first and only John Gruber podcast that ever actually talked about anything important. And you know I have cause to say that, being, as you are, the kind of person who gets upset over Arial and neutral-apostrophe usage. I know what’s consequential and what isn’t.
To put everything in a nice cohesive package: You caused material harm for years and knowingly misled your readers. I was right all along, no matter how much it hurts to acknowledge that, and now I’m right too. Do you run an advertorial operation or are you a journalist? Will you dodge my demand for accountability?
Why have we been correspondents for ten years if you hold all the cards, John? Truth and reconciliation have to be pursued at some point. This would be that point.
The male Apple technology press has proven it resides merely at a different point on the autism spectrum than other males in technology. It pretends to be liberal, which manifests itself as pretending not to care that Tim Cook is and always was gay. Pretending not to care means pretending it doesn’t matter. Gay men disagree with that opinion, in part because it is a political action that renders us invisible. Being gay matters a shitload to us and you need to listen to us for a change.
Marco Arment heaps praise on Gruber for manœuvring Phil Schiller onstage. Marco thinks he and I are at odds somehow, but, even after I gave him a chance to do so, he did not retract one of his bits of nastiness about me on Twitter, the natural home of cyberbullying. Pace Jason Snell, it would have cost Marco nothing to be generous for once.
Gruber’s Talk Show, Episode 100, with the disingenuous title “People Are Gay All the Time” (≈2:08:00), could not be bothered to address Gruber’s own choice to maintain the closet. But Gruber did take time to do what heterosexualist journalists love to do – set up a list of prerequisites before those hacks will report a public figure is gay. (Then, when you tick each box on that list of prerequisites, they hand you another list.)
If he had been out for 15 years, like, and had been, you know, had like, a, a longtime partner, you know, since before there was even legal gay marriage in California, who accompanied him to events, and therefore, you know, had been out while he was COO, not CEO, it certainly would have been his right and nobody right-minded would have complained about it, but it wouldn’t have been as big a deal, I don’t think, you know?
Single gay men are still gay even without a trophy husbear to show off, and Tim Cook was out all that time. Gruber acts like coverage of the actual facts happened somewhere else and he wrote none of it. We get this a lot. (The Times has done this for generations.)
I fail to see the counterargument
If male technology journalists, chief among them John Gruber, feel authorized to congratulate Cook on having “come out” despite his not actually having been in the closet, and further if they feel empowered to discuss the “context,” as on Marco et al.’s Accidental Tech Podcast (Episode 89), then it falls on those writers to accept responsibility for having hushed up the facts. Given that it derives from years of their own dishonesty, their freedom to congratulate and mull over is ill-gained.
Since last year – the discrete historical moment, according to the technology press, when Tim Cook “came out” – I have stopped feeding Gruber links. Only I noticed. A one-man, single-sided boycott is not even a boycott.
I also sat on this posting for all that time. Telling gays it doesn’t matter we’re gay is at best an insult and – as in this case – a deliberate program of invisibility. The underlying issue seemed to me like another example of the ongoing cultural extinction of gay. You should listen to that, too.