How I got Censored from Techcrunch: L’Arroseur Arrosé

June 10th, 2009 by jeremychone

Disclosure: This article has some drama, which I usually try to avoid on this blog. However, I think this drama leads to good content and an interesting experiment.

The Drama: L’Arroseur Arrosé

Popular tech bloggers tend to have an inner capability to manufacture drama, and that is exactly what Michael Arrington did [again] on the Leo Laporte Live video show last Saturday. While Michael was very fast to give his version of the facts on his blog, commenting back has proven to be a little bit harder—at least, it was for me.

To give some context, Leo Laporte was hosting the Gillmor Gang, and when he started to talk about the Palm Pre, Michael interrupted and asked if the device was “given” and mentioned this was an important disclosure to make. Leo got [overly] upset, as he took this interjection as an insult to his integrity, and shut down the show. Michael Arrington then quickly posted an article on TechCrunch showing Leo’s outburst and sharing his view of the incident.

After watching the video and reading the post, I decided to politely, respectfully, but directly share my opinion on the matter.

So, I commented (rewritten from memory, since I do not have the original):

Be honest, Mike; you asked a leading question, and Leo just got [overly] upset when you questioned his integrity.

I do not think you would have asked the same question if you would have been given a review unit yourself.

Also, your point about conflict of interest is a little bit misplaced. I think a lot of professional bloggers are on the gray line (it is the nature of the job). For example, given your personal investment in Seesmic, the “add a Video Comment with Seesmic” at the bottom of every Techcrunch post might be seen as a conflict of interest. It might not be—I do not know—but again, anything can be given spin one way or another.

Five minutes later my comment was censored, and I was banned (by email or IP).

I always use my full name (Jeremy Chone), my main email address (jeremy.chone, and I have a static IP address ( sometime .93). I do not plan to hide, since I always try to be as honest, polite, and respectful as possible. However, my candid opinion apparently was not welcome, and I am now banned from commenting on Techcrunch and can probably forget about any Techcrunch product review for any present or future venture I might have.

While my comment was direct and blunt, I think it was neither disrespectful nor aggressive. I do not always share Michael’s points of view, but I respect what he has built. I like some of the Techcrunch content, and I am a big fan of the ChrunchBase service. I comment from time to time, and this was actually the first time where I openly shared my difference of opinion with the editor. In my comment, I just wanted to make three points.

  1. First, that his question was a leading question and directly questioned Leo’s integrity (over a review unit).
  2. Second, that his remark was probably stimulated by the fact that he did not get a review unit from Palm (which he might have interpreted as Palm questioning his objectivity—kind of ironic, isn’t it?).
  3. And third that “conflict of interest” is often subjective.

For the last point, I used a specific example (the Seesmic/Arrington/Techcrunch potential conflict of interest) which might have been the thing that tipped me to “the dark side.” I actually did not say it was a conflict of interest; I said that I did not know but that some people might see it as one. No conflict at all may exist. Seesmic might have a commercial agreement with Techcrunch, as other sponsors do, or Techcrunch might need the Seesmic add-on to operate its service competitively. I truly and honestly do not know, and since Michael seems very meticulous about pointing out potential conflict of interest to others, I expected to get a clarification. Instead, I just got censored.

The ironic part is that my comment, especially the Seesmic/TechCrunch, was a little bit in the same tone as Michael’s Arrington comment to Leo, and apparently Michael Arrington really did not appreciate getting some of his own medicine.

Two things to conclude the drama part of this post.

First, while I do not always share Michael Arrington’s point of view or style, I do not have any personal animosity against him or TechCrunch and even have great respect for its accomplishments. I just wanted to share my point of view on his topic as honestly and directly as possible.

Second, this post is not a complaint about having been censored but just a reflection about it. TechCrunch is Michael Arrington’s blog, and he is totally within his rights to remove any comment he finds inappropriate on his property without giving any explanation to anyone. In other words, he has the right to censor on his property, even if it he does not like to be cencored himself.


The Content: The Power of Entertainment for Content

Besides the drama, some good content came out of the Leo Laporte incident. After some mutual apologies, Leo Laporte invited the Gang back to talk about the incident and how to move forward. Leo explained that he loves hosting the Gillmor Gang, but that he wanted to remove the drama from their great content. Gillmor responded that the drama was part of the content and that he did not know how to create such content without the drama. It was a great discussion, since everybody was calm and trying to constructively understand the other point of view to build a good solution for their audiences. But how could two extremely smart people not agree on such an apparently basic point?

While I tend to be like Leo Laporte (see previous section, last paragraph), I also recognize the benefits of mixing emotion with content. First, as my friend Bob Buffone put it, “contention drives integrity,” and the right level of emotional involvement is required to build up a constructive debate. Second, and more importantly, I think that we are all becoming more and more entertainment driven. Technology has been driving our society to be overly connected and extremely time sensitive. Consequently, event and information need to be excessively exaggerated to get the appropriate attention and emotionally packaged to get the expected assimilation.

I think the best leaders of the 21st century will be the ones who master of the art of mixing content with entertainment, to provide ultimate and unique experiences for their audiences while quickly and efficiently imbibe their message and product.

In political and world-matter scenes, Al Gore and Barack Obama are great examples of such leaders who have the capacity of making their actions so entrancing. In business, great executives, such as Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison, while different, have the same gift for making their respective company visions a destiny rather than a roadmap. Innovation is also subject to this trend, as Silicon Valley investors tend to prefer investing in high-risk potential phenomenon rather than revenue-centric businesses. Even professional entertainers are now trying to catch up with technologies so as not to miss out on what they have supposedly created. Ashton Kutcher is a great example of this new generation of gifted entertainers who completely embrace new ways of engaging with their audience.

Popular bloggers, such as Michael Arrington, instinctively know this, which is why they always (voluntarily or not) become surrounded by some drama. The reason drama is the main type of entertainment in the blogosphere is that drama is the cheapest form of entertainment to manufacture. While it still takes some talent, just a few well-placed words in a conversation or in a blog title can create some great drama (some bloggers have a sixth sense for this). Other types of entertainment centric content can be much more expensive to produce. For example, the famous Twouble with Twitters: SuperNews! is a very entertaining production (one of my favorite) with some great content in it; however, it is not something someone can drop into a casual conversation or make in an hotel room in front of a laptop. 

So, I do not think that either Leo Laporte or Gillmor were wrong or right. I just think they have two different styles for passing along information. Leo Laporte has a more traditional approach, where content should be king, while Gillmor and many other popular bloggers think that emotion is part of the content.

Personally, I blog for my future-self. I like to crystallize and capture my present thoughts to later assess what I got right or wrong. I am a strong believer of “if you don’t fall, you don’t learn,” and therefore you need to accept being wrong if you want to be right. I genuinely like to be proven wrong; it gives me this warm feeling that I have learned something new. In other word, my blog is my learning tool. Obviously, I am extremely pleased and honored when my articles are read, re-tweeted, and commented on, and I am using this opportunity to THANK YOU ALL. However, I always try to keep emotion out of my content to keep the reasoning as pure as possible.

Anyway, thanks to this little drama, I have discovered another great tech show I really like Leo’s style and content choice.


The Experiment: 10x

If my reflection about the power of entertainment for content is correct, this post should be doing extremely well compared to my other usual content-centric articles. It think I could do 10 times as "well" twice as well. My best content articles, such as “Compiled Web vs Interpreted Web”, average 2,500 visitors in the first 48 hours (which I am very proud of). This will make a 25,000 unique visits target for this article. For the fun of it, I am going to set a target of 30,000. (see below for progress tracking)

So, given that this is an extremely small blog compared to Techcrunch and that Michael Arrington will probably avoid, as much as possible, commenting about this article, I need your help. If you are against censorship, think that Michael Arrington should not censor this type of comment, and that he should stop questioning other people’s integrity when he cannot even defend his own, help me to spread the word by Tweeting one or more of the following drama oriented tweets:

#Arrington attacks NY Times integrity but censors when questioned. #NoToCensorship If you are not clean, do not spend your time soiling others. #NoToCensorship #Arrington cannot take criticism but can censor. #NoToCensorship#Arrington, the self-proclaimed paladin of integrity, censors rather than answering. #NoToCensorship #Arrington does not take his own medicine very well. #NoToCensorship#Arrington accuses but does not accept to be accused. #NoToCensorship#Arrington is quick at pointing out conflict of interest to others, but much slower to answer his owns. #NoToCensorship#Arrington, upset to not have gotten a Pre, questions host objectivity and censors comment. #NoToCensorshipComment about #Arrington, #Seesmic and Techcrunch get censored. #NoToCensorship#Arrington hates to be questioned about the potential conflict of interest with #Seesmic #NoToCensorship#Arrington, stop complaining about censorship or stop censoring. Cannot have both #NoToCensorship

Obviously, you can make your own (I will add the best ones to this article for others to RT). Feel free to use the “ #NoToCensorship” to keep track of them all.

Also, if you liked this article a +1 on HN, +1 on Digg, are greatly appreciated and here is a more R-Tweet if you feel unconfortable with the drama ones ;).

RT @jeremychone How I got Censored from Techcrunch #NoToCensorship

Thank you very much for your support. Michael Arrington can be very intimidating, and the other big guys will probably not support a small guy argument. So, alone I cannot do much, but together we can make a statement. Just Tweet, Digg, Share, +1, Comment about this article and the Internet will take care of the rest.

Article Progress: The race is CLOSED (and it FAILED, postmortem in a following post)

  • Target: 30,000 visits in 48 hours
  • Time elapsed: 48 hours
  • Current page views: 2,746 (FAILED)

Checkout others tweeting about it (and the stats), the more tweets the better. Also, feel free to blog about it, this blog follow back.


  • 2009-06-10 10:31AM - It seems that I have been un-banned. However, I would have much prefered an anwser about the potential Seesmic conflict of interest. Seesmic might have been benefiting of an huge free exposure on TechCrunch for months and months (compared to many TC sponsors that have been paying big bucks for it). Given the fact that virtually nobody on TC is using the Seesmic video gadget and that Michael is a personal investor, I would love to hear an explanation about this. Michael Arrington is acting as the defender of journalism integrity, why can’t he anwser this simple question?
  • 2009-06-15 - Another interesting comment get censored by Michael Arrington.

22 Responses to “How I got Censored from Techcrunch: L’Arroseur Arrosé”

  1. Matthew Bero Says:

    I love that you recognize the drama of this post and try to deflect the apparent hypocrisy of such a dramatic post by be so upfront about it. But, you’re absolutely right, both Laporte and Arrington were overreacted, and overly dramatic… but unfortunately you don’t seem to have their sixth sense for drama. The drama between Laporte and Arrington will be good for them, but this will be better. His censoring your post and your reaction will drive more readers to Techcrunch. Just my opinion, but, this drama should be good for you, but will in the end being better for him.

  2. Steve Ru Says:

    TechCrunch also erases and blocks any mention of how Twitter might be paying TechCrunch to write about Twitter every day…

  3. Titanas Says:

    I’m curious to read Michael’s reply / comment on what and if something went wrong. Let’s wait.

  4. Jeremy Chone Says:

    @Titanas, I think Arrington will try to avoid avoid commenting on this article, for two reasons:

    1) It will give a huge exposure to a little blog article.

    2) He sees himself as the paladin of integrity, so, he won’t accept this post as a valid criticism.

  5. Jeremy Chone Says:

    @Matthew I prefer seeing dead people than being gifted for drama. Now, I totally agree, I think I can make a 10x over my usual post, but at the end, Arrington will probably win. But hey, if you don’t try, you cannot succeed.

  6. Jeremy Chone Says:

    @Matthew Also, I do not think Leo Laporte is a Drama blogger/podcaster. He just got caught in Arrington’s game. Arrington is very good at it, if you listen the video, he says “what are you going to do about it, what are you going to do about it.” Just very subtle provocations to push the interlocutor over the edge.

    Now, at the end of the day, given Michael Arrington’s influence in this market, everybody, even his biggest contenders, tend to smooth things out. Who wants to be in bad term with the most influential blogger in the tech industry?…. dumb me.

  7. Adam Markey Says:

    I think the biggest benefit of this is that more of the tech world is discovering Leo Laporte. TWIT is the first podcast I listen to every week.

    In my years following Leo (all the way back to ZDTV in 1998) – he has remained an impartial and genuine tech journalist that I know I can trust.

    For Arrington – I’m sorry I can’t say the same. I will probably read Techcrunch less and value their opinion with the same level of integrity as Perez Hilton.

  8. Jeremy Chone Says:

    @Adam agree Leo rocks. You can hear pure honesty from his voice. He is a very genuine smart guy hosting a great show.

  9. hitesh Says:

    He’s really no different from O’Reilly or the right-wing radio hosts who turn the microphone off on people they don’t agree with.

    Did you see Arrington’s nutty post yesterday attacking the NY Times for its journalistic integrity? I think he needs another vacation…

  10. Jeremy Chone Says:

    @hitesh I think that Michael Arrington is spending time to attack people’s integrity to not answer his own. I am going to make a tweet about the NY Times… feel free to tweet it.

  11. Patrick FArrell Says:

    Nice article. Along the lines of your compiled v. interpreted web one. You’re now on my radar.

  12. dd Says:

    Drama is good, why do you think Movies make so much money? People love it :) You will probably reach your goal..

  13. Jeremy Chone Says:

    @dd I am a little far right now, but hopefully, we will get there.

  14. Jeffrey Rosen Says:

    Just a tip — most of your tweet templates start with @Arrington. Twitter will see these as an @reply to Arrington and not show them in people’s feeds, so they will not spread at all.

  15. Matthew Bero Says:

    @Jeremy you’re right, I shouldn’t have lump Leo in… he is generally more tech/content oriented. Laporte may not intentionally create drama, but they both benefit from the publicity. Like you said Arrington’s influential, and people pay attention to his drama. Any publicity is good publicity kind of thing. That’s all I was saying. (That and seeing dead people would rule.)

  16. Jeremy Chone Says:

    @Jeffrey, thanks so much. Fixing it right now.

  17. Kevin Eklund Says:

    Congrats on being unbanned it looks like your message was heard. Kudos to you for speaking your mind. I too thought it was a cheap shot on Arrington’s part. I think part of Arrington’s job is creating drama to whip up excitement and traffic for TC. Leo on the other hand doesn’t appear to like that kind of interactions and will have none of it. It’s no coincidence that someone spit in Michael’s face awhile back. He comes off as an arrogant jerk many times. I don’t know if that’s because he feels like he has to in order to protect himself, if he’s just stressed out, or he’s consciously doing it. Either way, hopefully he learned something from it and he’s a better person because of it.

  18. Jeremy Chone Says:

    @Kevin thanks. Honestly, I do not really care about the unbanned since I will probably now comment on FriendFeed.

    The real thing I wanted is an answer from Michael about the potential conflict of interest with Seesmic. He is lecturing everybody about integrity (i.e. attacking NY Times on integrity) but cannot even come clean.

    Seesmic might have been benefiting of an huge free exposure on TechCrunch for months and months (compared to many TC sponsors that paid big bucks for it). Given the fact that virtually nobody in TC is using the Seesmic gadget, Michael needs to explain why them, and prove that it is not stimulated by his personal investment. I would love to hear a explanation about this before hearing about other Arrington’s lectures on integrity.

  19. pbhj Says:

    That’s a very clever way to start a smear campaign … “help me do this experiment in drama-oriented tweets” which all just happen to be attempts to slur someone’s reputation.

    And you’re complaining that he lacks moral integrity?!?

  20. Jeremy Chone Says:

    @pbhj This is definitely a valid interpretation, although, it was not the intended goal. I had two goals:

    1) First trying to find out if I can do a 10x based drama-oriented content. On this one, I think I am failing. I think I did not have a big enough echo chambers. Seasoned drama-bloggers tend to create controversy between two popular entities which create an a big echo chambers and end-up by multiplying the audiences. In my case, I was alone with my little catchy title. HN helped a LOT, but was not enough.

    2) Second, was to get an answer about the potential conflict of interest about Seesmic, Arrington, and Techcrunch. There might be something very unfair for Techcrunch’ sponsors and even employees. I think it is not fair that Michael Arrington keeps lecturing the tech world about journalism integrity when he might be far from being clean. So, if there is a good explanation, then, great, incident close, otherwise, he should avoid lecturing all of us about integrity.

    So, for #2, I would agree with your point that I hoped that my experiment would have pushed Arrington to give an explanation. But, not surprisingly (given the impact of this blog), it did not.

    Btw, you should use your real name & url. No need to hide, I am a very small blogger, and I do not intend to make drama my profession. So, I am definitely not intimidating.

    You did a good comment, just assume it.

  21. My Drama Failure | Bits And Buzz, by Jeremy Chone Says:

    [...] as you can see in the previous article, the experiment did not work. I barely topped my top content-oriented article (x1.1), and I over-estimated my reach [...]

  22. Prokofy Neva Says:

    I’ve been banned from TechCrunch, too. I can’t figure out why. I *think* I posted something to that same thread you did, about Leo Laporte, taking Leo’s side simply because I felt that Leo getting tech to review is a lot like a book reviewer getting a book to review — and not the big deal and conflict of interest implied.

    But I can’t tell. Maybe it was another post in which I dissed the Singularity and pointed out that the Singularity University isn’t a real university.

    I marvel at how I could get banned there, when I post critical, but certainly legitimate comments. I always post under my own known blogger’s name which is easily linked to a RL name.

    I see loads of anonymous vindictive types posting the most outrageously hateful stuff — and it stands. So what’s up?

    I think it’s truly outrageous that a highly influential blog like this, which, for better or worse, is one of the blogs coming to take the place of newspapers, can arbitrarily ban people on whims, when they don’t even have a moderator, or a moderation policy indicated on their site.

    That this was a deliberate, personal real-time ban and not some automatic key word sort of thing was clear.

    I also have a static IP, never use alts, and don’t plan to evade this ban somehow. I *want* to post under the same name everywhere. But I will protest this and publicize it. It’s wrong. And it becomes a reason why government should regulate blogs if only to restore the First Amendment’s protections as applicable to them.

    I don’t believe that Arrington is “totally within his rights” to remove comments that expose *his* conflicts of interests. Not when his blog is as big, as influential, as reprinted as his. It becomes an institution like the newspaper once was, with certain obligations to the public interest and the public’s right to know.