Bachmanity Insanity: “We’ve established that you don’t have any journalistic integrity, but what would it cost to buy you some?”
One of the many consultants on HBO’s Silicon Valley told me before the season started that there was an episode later on that we’d want to have a conversation about.
As I was watching this past week’s episode hearing Gavin Belson testing the waters with his management team on whether he could have protesters killed or light an actual fire under a critical journalist, I got a sinking feeling that this was going to be that episode.
I didn’t need to worry. When Belson threatens to sue a journalist from CodeRag to reveal her source, she immediately caves, screaming: “Journalist? I’m a tech blogger!” Shortly afterwards, she agrees to sell her site for chump change rather than standing up to Belson.
Even if you hate us, there’s one thing you can’t say about Pando: That we run away from fights. And as for the tech blogger vs journalist part -- when have you ever known us to turn down an opportunity to be self-righteous?
Still, CodeRag is an interesting development on the show, because in the past it namechecked real sites (including Pando) and cameos of real journalists (not including Pando.) This season it seems to have shifted towards creating fictional pastiches of existing publications, presumably to allow the journalists themselves to become part of the plot.
People have debated on Twitter who CodeRag is supposed to be based on: Valleywag or ReCode? Last night’s episode shows it’s clearly a pastiche of the two.
Consider: CJ Cantwell actually shows up to do an interview and then parlays that info into a genuinely huge story. That’s far more ReCode than ValleyWag. Then again, for all the softballs lobbed on the Code Conference stage, Kara Swisher definitely considers herself a journalist and would never bail on a source. The “I’m just a tech blogger!” defense feels far more like one of Denton’s millennials talking.
What about the selling when things got tough? Well that’s where the pastiche comes in. And it’s fitting accidental timing for the episode to air. One year ago, ReCode announced it was selling to Vox after some 18 months in business. And this week at Code conference Nick Denton will take to the softball field -- at the same time rumors are swirling that Vox may be about to give Gawker the cushy soft landing that Denton so clearly craves.
Perhaps Vox will actually merge the two properties and call it CodeWag.
Ultimately, last night’s plot was a better direction for the show to go in than the journalist fighting to expose corruption or risking jail to keep a source safe. After all, this is supposed to look like the tech world.
The one off note was the protesters outside Hooli. Sure, people would protest a Hooli bus. But the CEO scrubbing search results to make himself look good? The sad truth is no one would care.