It’s an unusual argument, to declare victory in a First Amendment speech battle while agreeing to stop publishing, but that’s the outcome of the Apple Inc. lawsuit against the Think Secret Web site, which regularly published breaking news about Apple product releases before the image-obsessed company was ready to announce them.
The Web site and its lawyer are saying that because the agreement includes Apple agreeing to stop seeking his sources, it’s a big win for the First Amendment. But shutting down a Web site and no longer publishing news is hardly a win for news reporting.
Denying Steve Jobs his black-turtleneck moments is a sin in Mac world, but in the real world it’s considered reporting the news. The company should be embarassed that it forced a news Web site off the Internet. But Apple has shown it doesn’t understand independent reporting, anyway. It had accused Think Secret creator Nicholas Ciarelli of inducing Apple employees to reveal trade secrets — by simply asking for information. Sound familiar? It’s the tactic the tobacco companies used to try to intimidate news organizations like 60 Minutes (remember Jeffrey Wigand and "The Insider") into staying away from publishing information as their more egregious practices started coming to light in the 90s.