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.

  5. Having spent my share of time at a few tech companies, I honestly cannot fathom why anyone would feel the need to be closeted, at least from a professional perspective. I had my share of problems in other industries, but at Adobe, Microsoft, and now Amazon, there is not one hint of an iota of prejudice to be found in any institutionalized way.
    On the contrary – the spirit of diversity of ideas is often central to the values of tech companies, and I’m sure Apple is no different. That spirit extends to through the professional and personal lives of the people that I’ve worked with, along with the idea that it’s the work that matters – everything else just makes it more interesting.
    That said, if Tim is gay, and he just decides he doesn’t want to endlessly prattle on about it, then what’s the bloody problem? I haven’t heard any cries from the gay community imploring more CEOs to come out in order to make the rest of our lives easier. I don’t even know how it would help.
    So someone in the tech industry is gay… HOLY SHIT REALLY?!?!?! Wow, sell some tickets!!! It’s a big freak show!!!
    Er… no. Actually there are quite a lot of gays about, thanks. And we’re doing just fine without Gawker or Ars fucking up Tim’s personal life.

    Hey Gawker,


    And die.


    1. As a gay person I totally agree. Tim’s personal life is his own. I don’t need to know anyone’s sexuality for them to be a CEO, it’s totally fucking beside the point.

      1. As a straight person *I* agree…why does who he may (or may not) sleep with have to do with how he runs Apple? Or any other CEO for that matter…I care if they run the boardroom well…not the bedroom.

    2. 1, 1, 1. Right on, Chrissy — and just about every other post here as of this writing. Some of the most heartening stuff I have read here in some time. I spent 30 years in the news business and watched as some already low standards sunk even further in the age of the Internet. This backhanded report on Tim Cook just might mark a new low.

    3. ChrissyOne, FYI, I’ve been reading this site for a few years and I tend to actually look for your comments these days. Right on target, as usual. I appreciate your comments!

  6. i think the press has an ethical duty to out powerful gays in politics, because it’s pertinent to their voting record as it impacts people’s lives. One’s sexual orientation should be a non-issue otherwise.

    1. The press has a responsibility to report on hypocritical pols who are in the closet while supporting policies and laws harmful to G/L/B/T people.
      David Drier of California would be the House Majority Leader except the GOP shunted him aside due to his ongoing affair with his male CoS. The Republican Party is loaded with closet cases.
      As to anyone else- it’s a private matter.

  7. Define “duty”.
    Most reporters call it ‘ratings’.
    Few journalist would call this ‘newsworthy’.

    So if the press’s ‘duty’ is the dollar, then by all means, tell us everything you think we are depraved enough to want to know
    and more, cause that is working out so well for you.

    If their ‘duty’ was news, then Hillary would be President (for another year…)

  8. Although I agree that the press should leave it alone, I’d very much like to see Tim come out publically. Although many have said that “gay no longer matters”, gays and lesbians do still face discrimination in everyday life. The fact that that discrimination is less threatening and less prominent is primarily owed to courageous people like Ellen.

    1. Actually, you would probably be surprised at how few people really give a shit. I don’t think sex has a place in a serious working environment. Nor color, or religion, politics…or music.

      I couldn’t imagine standing up in a meeting and announcing “I’m straight. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. And you babes….I’m watching you….”

      The same goes for others who feel ‘un-WASPy’. Unless you bow to Mecca in the break room, condemn the ‘Fascist pigs’ on your T-shirt, or bump your rap music 5 cubicles away, the issue is usually work, and not your insecurities.

      Like I said, unless YOU make it an issue, most people don’t care, unless you stick it in their face and demand recognition. Then it becomes a sticky issue…..I mean a touchy subject….whatever

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