Trade show exec throws CNET under the bus, but who is he to judge media ethics?

Gary Shapiro is chief of the Consumer Electronics Association, the tech industry group behind the massive annual CES trade show. In an op-ed published by USA Today, he writes that the organization is reevaluating its relationship with tech news site CNET, which oversees a big CES-related award. CNET was planning to give this award to a particular gadget until its parent company, CBS, interfered.

Recently, I found myself thrust in the middle of a kerfuffle when CBS ordered its subsidiary CNET to remove a productfrom consideration for a "Best of CES" award at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. I can never recall any major media company, much less a top-tier First Amendment protector like CBS, publicly mandating an editorial decision based on business interests. ... Not only have CNET users and partners like us lost confidence in its independence, but the action is so devastating to editorial integrity that other staffers are almost certainly freshening their resumes. ...

2013 begins with CBS destroying its reputation for editorial integrity in an attempt to eliminate a new market competitor. Now we are considering our legal options under our agreement with CNET.


Now, it's true that CNET has a credibility problem as a result of CBS giving it editorial marching orders. But let's take a look at the sort of thing that CES gave awards to until people started paying attention:

The exquisite unique Ultra-Portable Wireless NoteBook "SG111" to access the world anywhere! This Computer does not employ Hard Disk or any mechanical parts, and is completely based on AtomChip optoelectronics.

Welcome to the World of Nanomicrons and Beyond!

100GB/256GB AtomChip® Non-Volatile RAM and Storage / 4.0GHz AtomChip® CPU (AtomChip®Quantum processor with 128MB on-board memory) ...

Complete lack of mechanical parts combined with ultra-high density, ultra-high speed and extremely compact size distinguish this memory from all existing memories. Also, this Quantum-Optical technology allows to build up NvIOpSRAM to 256GB in one package, designed for USB port

Granted, the CEA gives these awards out like candy, but 2TB non-volatile RAM? Also, this. Heaven forbid that the ethical credibility of the CEA be tarnished by association with CNET.


  1. Back in the early 90’s I was a judge for CES product awards. Back then it was done by groups of individuals who were in the particular industry. 

  2. What’s wrong with that laptop, specs normal for the time, converts into a tablet. it was probably overpriced compared to what we expect now, but in 2005 any innovation to the standard laptop was seen as dramatic and bold. long before the first macbook air or netbook. It’s easy to look back and sneer at what people thought would be successful in the future.

      1. I was thinking that “Quantum Processor” thing must be just stupid branding – but then I went and looked at Atom Chip corp’s website.  It’s a beaut.

        Nothing says “serious semiconductor manufacturer” like animated GIFs, exclamation points, and copious unexplained use of the word “quantum”

  3. Is “solar memory” just a bizarre mistranslation or are they really claiming the memory is solar powered? How would that work? Transparent devices?

  4. to become a ‘best of CES’ product, there is no judge, it is just a financial contribution that gets your product in.  So of course Gary Shapiro is just butt hurt about losing a few bucks.

  5. In case you don’t recognize what a farce this product is, check out this youtube video that used to be on Atom Chip Corporation’s website.

  6. “Now, it’s true that CNET has a credibility problem as a result of CBS giving it editorial marching orders. But let’s take a look at the sort of thing that CES gave awards to until people started paying attention:”

    So, it’s your contention that because CES may have given an award, in the past, to a product that didn’t deserve any award, that therefore CES is somehow hypocritical for objecting to editorial decisions handed down from CBS/CNET managers that are based entirely on business interests. 

    Do I have that right? 

    What a stupid argument. 

    1. Unless I’m misreading it, both parties did exactly the same thing at the same time while holding hands.

    2. His argument doesn’t make any sense. I believe there going to give the award selection to a non compromised tech site, which seems totally reasonable.

  7. The electricity output, which the Memory chip uses from a Solar battery, is very small. For instance, exposing the Solar battery to sunlight for five minutes allows the chip to work for twenty-four hours.
    Signals for recording and reading of information are send (sic) to the chip by a laser beam and can control the chip from a very big distance.

  8. Hi, this is Michael from CEA. A quick clarification: we had no intention of “throwing CNET under the bus”. The situation is no fault of theirs – they are smart, diligent reporters who were put in an impossible situation by CBS, their corporate parent. We do object to CBS barring its reporters from praising technologies the network doesn’t like. We also oppose CBS and other broadcasters’ lawsuit against the Dish Hopper, which we see as a perfectly legal home recoding device. We are huge fans of BoingBoing – please keep up the great work!

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