NYT Tech Columnist David Pogue’s Silence on Foxconn Persists, Even After the Times’s Damning Expose

The widely-read technology writer and Apple fanboy stays silent on the company's human rights-violating Chinese manufacturer, even as the paper he writes for exposes their inhumane practices.

The man and his muse
On the front page of today’s New York Times is a massive umbrella piece about China’s Foxconn—who manufactures, among other things, Apple iPhones—and the sub-humane, dangerous conditions their workers assemble these products under. It is, in many ways, as astonishing as it is unsurprising, and it’s as depressing a systemic problem as they come.

So what does the Apple fan’s Apple fan—the New York Times‘s own David Pogue, the (somewhat controversial) most widely-read technology columnist in the country—have to say about Apple’s relationship to Foxconn? Especially given the front page of today’s Times, do these sorts of revelations about their manufacturing processes change the way he feels and/or writes about Apple?

We’ve reached out to David Pogue for comment with those questions. He did not respond, though he did forward our request to New York Times technology editor Damon Darlin, who responded by assuring us over email that “you’ll never get anyone to talk to you if you approach it like that.” On Mr. Darlin’s insistence, we rephrased the question, and have yet to hear back.

For the moment, it doesn’t look likely.

A search for “Foxconn” turns up nothing on his blog. Searches for David Pogue and mentions of the Chinese manufacturer turn up nothing, either.

Mike Daisey—the critically-lauded monologist whose one-man show about these very problems with Apple, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, which played at New York’s Public Theater to critical acclaim last year—actually singled out David Pogue for failing to investigate Apple’s practices.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Mr. Daisey, whose show ran for a number of weeks, and who actually ran an Op-Ed in the Times, was shocked at Mr. Pogue’s silence on his show, let alone Foxconn, who he covers for the Times and writes users manuals for.

“David Pogue—I’ll call him out—hasn’t actually been in to see the show. What I know of David Pogue, David Pogue would travel on his hands and knees, over broken glass, to see anything about the Mac or Steve Jobs, but…he hasn’t been here.”

Full-Disclosure: I own an iPhone. Reading the Times‘ piece today—like every other piece about Foxconn out there—gave me further pause about what owning an Apple product (or anything containing any of the products Foxconn manufactures) actually means, and whether or not it’s time to start looking into alternatives. Especially as their stock price and revenues continue to soar.

But I don’t own one of the largest audiences for personal technology writing out there, and I’ve been openly critical of Apple’s practices and culture in the past. Mr. Pogue’s reputation as a nearly unwavering fan of the company’s is well-established. The question of whether or not it gives him pause presents itself pretty clearly; what his silence says about the state of how we as a culture talk about technology is a far murkier picture.

On the bright side, at least there’s a Google result for it, now.

fkamer@observer.com | @weareyourfek NYT Tech Columnist David Pogue’s Silence on Foxconn Persists, Even After the Times’s Damning Expose