CNET Reporter Resigns After CBS Interferes With Coverage

Photograph by David Becker/Getty Images

Journalist Greg Sandoval (L) with actor/director Danny DeVito on stage during the 2013 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Jan. 9, 2013.

(This post was updated with information from a CNET blog.)

CNET reporter Greg Sandoval said on Twitter today he has resigned from the digital media site after its parent company, CBS, forced staff to withdraw a new product by Dish Network from its Best of CES awards.

Sandoval said on Twitter he is no longer confident “that CBS is committed to editorial independence” and that “CNET wasn’t honest about what occurred regarding Dish.”

Dish complained last week that its Hopper with Sling set-top box had been eliminated from a best-of-show award at the Consumer Electronics Show. CBS said at the time that a new policy would prohibit it from reviewing products of anyone in litigation with the company. CBS, based in New York, is engaged in a lawsuit with Dish over one of the features of the Hopper that allows consumers to skip commercials.

CNET said in a blog post today that the Hopper had actually won its top prize, only to be rejected by CBS. The parent company forced CNET’s staff to re-vote, according to Editor-in-Chief Lindsey Turrentine. The Razer Edge gaming tablet ended up winning the Best of CES award.

“I wish I could have overridden the decision not to reveal that Dish had won the vote,” Turrentine wrote. “For that I apologize to my staff and to CNET readers.”

CBS, which acquired CNET in 2008, said in an e-mail that the situation was an “isolated and unique incident in which a product that has been challenged as illegal was removed from consideration for an award.”

The move didn’t affect CNET’s news gathering, CBS said.

“In terms of covering actual news, CNET maintains 100 percent editorial independence, and always will,” the company said. “We look forward to the site building on its reputation of good journalism in the years to come.”

The Razer Edge gaming tablet ended up winning the Best of CES award.

Dish spokesman Bob Toevs said he wished CNET’s editorial staff was able to express its original view and praised the “collective wisdom” of the website’s newsroom.

“What we want is fair, critical coverage from independent reporters and editors,” Toevs said. “We want honest brokers to come to their own conclusions. When you earn that praise, that’s praise hard won. It’s unfortunate that CNET has to deal with this.”

Sandoval didn’t immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

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