Dan Lyons still obsessed with David Pogue

Mon, Sep 7, 2009


Two days ago, Clark Hoyt of the New York Times published an article discussing the potential conflict of interest for David Pogue to the extent that he makes a living off of writing manuals for tech software like OS X, while at the same time he’s required to objectively review them.

It is no intended knock on Pogue’s integrity — he has panned Apple products and praised those of competitors — to point out that the review put him in the kind of conflict-of-interest situation that The Times regularly calls others to account for: doctors with a financial interest in the drugs they recommend, or a presidential adviser whose clients have a direct interest in certain legislation. In this case, the better Snow Leopard sells, presumably the better Pogue’s “Missing Manual” on how to use it will sell…

Pogue and his editors said they talk frequently about how to deal with his varied interests, and the editors praised him as a straight shooter who has developed a large following precisely because of his honest assessments of hardware and software. Pogue said the conflict in his case was “kind of an imaginative cause and effect. I can’t imagine someone saying: ‘This is a good product. I’ll buy the reviewer’s book.’ ” He pointed out that he savaged Apple’s iMovie ’08 in his Times blog, even as he was writing a “Missing Manual” for it.

The thrust of the article was that, yeah, there’s a conflict of interest going on, but like other NYT writers with similar conflicts, the Times is taking steps to minimize the influence such conflicts create.  One solution mentioned by the Times was the simple act of full disclosure, which in the case of Pogue, means letting readers know about his gig writing “Missing Manuals” for a variety of OS’s such as OS X and Windows 7.

Personally, I’ve been reading David Pogue in a variety of mediums since 1993 and can attest that his reviews are pretty on-point and never seem to be influenced by outside factors.  And especially in the somewhat self-regulated Mac community, Pogue would have been called out years ago if there was any hint that he was posturing as a means to peddle more books.

In any event, Dan Lyons, writing as Fake Steve Jobs (sorta), was quick to jump on the Times story and lambast Pogue yet again.

Lyons writes:

The coolest thing is that Mr. Big Smartypants Clark Hoyt didn’t seem to even notice the real issue here, which isn’t simply that Pogue makes millions on Apple manuals while also reviewing our products. It’s that in this most recent case, with Snow Leopard, Pogue raved about the product and called it “Apple’s sleek upgrade,” even though he later admitted to VentureBeat that Snow Leopard was causing him to experience seriously bad issues (ie crashes, loss of data) with Photoshop and Microsoft Word. Oh, and his printer had crapped out. I have to tell you, when we saw that VentureBeat item, we all figured our pal was dead meat. Photoshop is crashing every 5 or 10 minutes? Word just blanks out? And you just failed to mention this in your Times review? In fact, instead, you told people to go out and buy the product?

Again, Lyons categorizes the post under “Filthy Hacks”.

Yesterday, Pogue responded yet again to Lyons jabs, leaving the following comment on Lyons’ blog:

“Photoshop is crashing every 5 or 10 minutes? Word just blanks out? And you just failed to mention this in your Times review?”

No–evidently you just failed to READ it. My review identified all of the software glitches I’d been having, and recommended that readers look over an online incompatible-software list before buying.

You’re shocked–SHOCKED!–that the OS might be good even though there are some glitches with older software (it’s Photoshop CS3 I had trouble with, after all). But this is standard procedure for new OS releases, including Windows and Mac OS X. You wait a couple weeks, and the patches come, and the glitches go away. This isn’t a reason to condemn the whole OS.

Furthermore, Dan, I see that you continue to repeat the misinformation I corrected here last week, where you say that I write “Missing Manuals for Apple products.”

There are over 100 Missing Manual titles–far more about Windows products than Apple ones. Including my own books on Windows Me, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.


Soon thereafter, Lyons published another post seemingly mocking Pogue’s career of writing Mac-centric books.

So what the hell is going on?  Why is Lyons obsessed with Pogue, a writer whose integrity has never been an issue or suspect?  Lyons can sometimes be funny with his Fake Steve Jobs column, but for the most part, he’s coming across as pathetic and bitter.  It’s well-known that Lyons was pissed that he never received the same level of access to Apple that his predecessor at Newsweek, Steven Levy, had.  Perhaps Lyons is projecting this frustration onto Pogue.  Maybe Lyons’ attacks on Pogue are rooted in professional jealousy.  Maybe Lyons wishes that someone would pay him money to write books about technology.  Maybe, just maybe, Lyons is bitter because he’s been more successful as the “Fake Steve Jobs” than he’s ever been as the real Dan Lyons.


11 Comments For This Post

  1. brock Says:

    Thing is, FSJ will never be as good as it was when nobody knew who was writing it. He was always an Apple basher, then he became well liked by the Apple community until he was exposed. That would make any person go crazy.

    Now he is just desperate. Picking on a very popular media guy. Pogue should quit responding. Somebody should hack the FSJ site. Except that would draw attention. And that is just what he wants. Just another journalist hack who is quickly learning how to play the big Apple fan guitar strings.

  2. Hampst Says:

    There have always been festering haters like Lyons. Behind that humorous facade is a mean, petty man whose only real talent is his poisoned pen. Luckily for him though, he has found a way to be useful while venting his spleen. With Lyons, the vitriol and jealousy are real and all his own, but I believe the targets he is aimed at are calculated by his keepers. In the past he championed SCO and later switched to attacks on Apple. There is a common thread here, though. My guess is that the shoes sticking out from behind the curtain belong to Microsoft.

  3. sfmitch Says:

    Dan Lyons is a complete tool.

    He is on a very short list of people that I refuse to read (Dan Lyons meet Rob Enderle, Rob Enderle meet Dan Lyons) because he is completely full of BS.

    Pogue has a ton of credibility while Lyons has little or none.

  4. Guy (CouchGuy) McLimore Says:

    The only thing more pitiful than Dan Lyons’ anti-Pogue screeds is Jason Calacanis’ recent spew of anti-Pogue Twitter posts. Picture Lyon’s bitterness without the humor. Calacanis got himself removed from my follow list over it (and I’m sure he’s losing sleep over THAT) because they were nothing but cheap insults, resembling in the aggregate the braying of a frustrated jackass. Lyons at least attempted to be clever. (Failing in the attempt, IMHO, but still…) Pogue is a trusted voice to most of the tech consumer community, and I find it impossible to take these mean-spirited cheap shots to his integrity seriously. I don’t advise anyone to listen to just one voice (including my own). A variety of viewpoints is available, and one should sample them broadly. But Pogue has been consistently trustworthy. Anyone who reads his stuff regularly is well aware of The Missing Manual series and he’s never made any attempt to hide what he does. As a former professional journalist myself, I have never understood those who seem to feel that the only way one can offer an objective voice is to be ignorant of the subject matter. Pogue writes books that teach and articles that evaluate. Given that I am aware of that, I have no problem with it.

  5. SteveP Says:

    1st. OK, I didn’t even bother to read this article. So…

    2nd. Dan Lyons isn’t obsessed with Pogue, He’s obsessed with himself! And always has been.

    A looong time ago I read a few of his FSJ posts as everyone was commenting how ‘funny’ they were. I found him only marginally so, if at all. Mostly lame. But, then, I like very few stand up ‘comics’ or sit-coms, so what do I know. I THINK *I* have a sense of humor. But I don’t think THEY do.

    I just think Lyons is too much a narcissist.

  6. Jason Says:

    Um, lighten up. Maybe Lyons is, ya know, writing a satire site. . . .

  7. John H Says:


    I totally agree with the FTJ thing. He should have kept his identity secret no matter what. The speculation of the identity of the writer was half the fun. Too bad he could not resist telling the whole world.

  8. Partners in Grime Says:

    Hampst summed it up well.

  9. jean-paul Says:

    i have a simple explanation: Lyons is a sh*t. A funny sh*t often, but still a sh*t.

  10. dizzle Says:

    I used to like FSJ when I thought he really was running a satire site. He isn’t. He is a complete orifice, not just pretending to be one. He is so self-obsessed that I, on a tiny Apple blog, wrote about him several times, flattered himself to think I was obsessed with him.

    Yes he can be funny, but there is malicious intent behind his humour, and that is not true satire. True satire is like a Roast. Lyons is just a bully with a talent for having a sharp and funny wit.

    God has a sense of humour. The Real Dan Lyons blog was a FAIL, and he is so bitter about it that he discourages people from thinking that they may be able to make a living blogging (though many “nobodies” unlike the Great White Lyon have done so), so he is only even somewhat popular, if not monetarily, by pretending to be someone he love/hates like a spurned lover.

  11. Robert Says:

    Dan Lyons is an envious tear-down artist.

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