Does the press have an ethical duty to out powerful gays in tech?

“Do journalists have a duty to report on the sexuality of so-called ‘glass-closeted’ gay people? They do if those people are powerful, says Felix Salmon of Reuters,” Ken Fisher writes for Ars Technica. “Media attention on powerful gays and lesbians, even those in the closet, is a social good because it promotes and celebrates diversity, he argues. If it is inspirational to millions to see a gay person at the helm of an illustrious company, Salmon believes we have an ethical duty to not to gloss over the sexuality of such a person, even if that person has never publicly “come out.” To fail to do so, Salmon suggests, can be unethical, because it’s dishonest.”

Fisher writes, “It is impossible to discuss this debate without discussing its genesis, and that means visiting upon the private life of the man who is at the center of the debate: Tim Cook. The former COO of Apple is now filling Steve Jobs’ running shoes as CEO, which makes him massively powerful in tech and, for many, a hero. Cook has chosen not to discuss his private life; very little has even been gossiped about Tim Cook’s personal details, and facts are few and far between. Still, there is a consensus that Cook is gay (Salmon cites the “‘public realm’ as his source) but, without Cook being open about it, it’s something journalists can only speculate (or gossip) about based on other less solid sources.”

Fisher notes, “I can’t help but notice that this now makes two Apple CEOs in a row where the press has struggled to define limits covering their private lives.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We stand by our Take from January 21, 2011.


[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Kristian” for the heads up.]

Related article:
Gawker’s Valleywag outs Tim Cook as ‘most powerful gay man in Silicon Valley’ – January 21, 2011


    1. Its immoral is what it is. Tim Cook is not their property to use… but since they believe in slavery they feel they have the right to exploit him to make some sort of “social point”.

      Ars Technica is not off the hook for this either because they’re doing exactly the same thing, only pretending to frame it as a question.

      This is just the latest in a long series of reprehensible or dishonest things from Ars Technica, the scumbags.

    2. What most people have been looking forward to is the day when one’s sexual orientation is not of real importance in the business arena, just as one’s religion, skin color, or whatever is not that significant to most.

      But Felix Salmon seems to be saying:”It is of improtance, he is different”. Maybe it will take another generation before idiots like this will fade into the sunset.

    1. … writing a a biography of Mr. Cook, then perhaps a reference to his orientation might – perhaps – be appropriate. Might. After all, various on-line biographies of other tech leaders and sports team leaders often include that information.
      Oh. Wait. These are “journalists”! Reporting “news”. The last such reference I heard about another tech leader or sports team leaders “sexuality” in the NEWS was when Mrs. Kraft died. Before that, it was when Bill Gates surprisingly courted, then married, a woman. Who is Carly F. sleeping with? Who are the co-leaders of RIM sleeping with? If those bits of info are not important enough to include in the news (rather than the gossip columns) then … get a grip, children.

    1. Exactly. I’m sure the “journalists” sifting through celebrity garbage and trespassing on private property to take pictures are motivated by an ethical duty, and not trying to make a quick buck on gossip.

  1. Is there anything less interesting than gayness? I am so not interested in it. I don’t really care if the CEO of some successful company is gay. It’s such a non issue. I’m waiting for a breaking news story about a guy who runs a gay bar that happens to be not gay. I wouldn’t care about that either. What matters is whether or not they’re able to run the company in a way that makes money for stockholders. If they have that, I couldn’t care less about their sex life.

    That goes for presidents and school teachers and everyone else.

  2. What a pathetic, back-handed opportunist creating a fake story so that he can write about Tim Cook’s sexual life, but making believe the story is actually about journalistic responsibility. Modern journalists call google searches research. True journalism is virtually a lost art!

  3. If you’re going to out people for sexual orientation when it has zero to do with job performance, then you might as well out them for not flossing every day.

    I’m fine with nailing people for hypocrisy on the subject (that would take care of most preachers and politicians), but most of the time it’s got absolutely nothing to do with anything.

    1. I don’t know whether or not Tim Cook should be outed. I can see both sides of the argument. It’s true that it doesn’t affect his job performance in any meaningful way.

      But you’re wrong to say being gay doesn’t matter anymore.

      It matters because people in 29 states can be fired for being gay. It matters because companies that offer a lawfully married straight couple health insurance don’t need to offer it to a lawfully married gay couple. It matters because I get to keep less of my pay than a straight guy doing the same job, because he gets to file jointly with his spouse, but I don’t. The list goes on.

      So it may be true that most stockholders and coworkers don’t care about a person being gay, but to say “It…. doesn’t…. matter….. anymore” is simply, objectively wrong.

      1. I think what he meant to say is, it SHOULDNT matter any more. I agree with what you’re saying, but it’s really a matter to be taken to courts. In time it will, and things will equal out. I like to think it will anyway.

  4. Was it about creating Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) about Apple’s leadership or that someone in the gay community just wanted to let the world to know that Tim was gay to make a point about gays in business. The timing is quite telling.

    Tim is going a great job and this other stuff is nonsense.

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