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Techcrunchterngate

I’m Walt Mossberg. Shut up.

Last week Michael Arrrrington, head of TechCrunch, issued a public apology on his blog because one of his interns had attempted to extort a poor, defenceless dotcom company who just didn’t know any better by offering to write a positive review of them in exchange for a MacBook Air. Arrington went on to say that this wasn’t the first time the kid had tried this tactic, and they imagined that he’d been successful in the past.

Arrington didn’t reveal the kid’s name, because he was under 18, but the kid outed himself in a pathetic non-apology on his adorable little blog. The intern was Daniel Brusilovsky, 17-year old wunderkid and founder of the Teens in Tech conference, which I’m sure wasn’t an awkward place to be at all, since it happened the day after all this went down.

Are you THAT Daniel Brusilovsky?

Shut up, you guys!

At first blush, it looks like Arrington did the right thing: he fessed up to a problem in his shop, he deleted all of the little bastard’s posts, and he fired him. But was it really so honourable? I don’t know. For one thing, TechCrunch’s stock in trade is not just covering tech companies but uncovering the asshattery of such companies, and if someone else exposed TechCrunch’s problems, well, that’d be hideously embarrrrrasssing for Arrrrington, wouldn’t it? Even if Arrington really believed what he wrote, which I think he did, it was still a defensive move, not some goddamn noble thing to be applauded.

I do find it funny that Daniel, the punk kid, learned how to lie during his internship for a cutthroat tech blog run by a lawyer. I don’t think Arrington had anything to do with creating this particular situation, but I find that detail to be titillating. And you know what? I like it when I’m titillated.

But Michael Arrrrrington isn’t the real bad guy in this situation, it’s Daniel Brusilovsky. Just who is this little bastard? According to Arrington, Scoble, and host of other middle-aged white men who no doubt have their fingers on the very pulse of the global youth culture, he was the next generation of tech writer. He was a star, he was a genius, some sort of savant when it comes to the web. I tell you, when I hear 40-year olds talk about a 17-year old in those terms, it makes me wonder if they actually understand what they’re supposed to be experts in.

Here this kid had a brass ring and he blew it because of greed. I’m sure he was precocious and had some level of insight into tech — if he hadn’t, Arrington wouldn’t have let him write feature articles, unless he wasn’t good on an absolute scale, only good for a 17-year-old —

I’m good for a 127-year old, Arrington, give me a paycheque and some prunes!

— and the kid was told again and again how amazing he was, without the age or experience to temper such smoke in the assery, and who knows, maybe started to believe it. Maybe because this kid was bumped to the head of the line by being able to write for the most influential tech blog in the world that he was really worth it, and that he was worth other things, like free computers, free hookers, and free cocaine.

Disclosure: I don’t know if Daniel Brusilovsky asked any companies for hookers and cocaine. That’s just what I’d have asked for.

So Daniel extorts a company, succeeds, then starts asking for more things, maybe. Eventually he asks for a MacBook Air from some hapless CEO, and rather than pay up, said CEO calls Arrington, and the kid gets busted. So then what happens? The little genetic smear posts a pathetic non-apology on his blog in a post titled “The Line Was Crossed.” This is how he starts his supposed apology:

In some way or another, a line was crossed that should have never been.

No, you little bastard, YOU crossed a line, in a very specific way. You did. Take ownership of what you did, don’t act like it was something that happened to you, that you were helpless to stop.

Then after issuing an empty apology devoid of any specifics whatsoever about what he was apologizing for, Daniel says:

This is the first day of the next learning stage for me. Yes, I am young, but from here, I can only learn more. To my family, friends, colleagues and especially, TechCrunch, I am sorry. I am taking this entire experience, learning and moving on.

The kid was an internet savant because he knew how to google for insincere apologies delivered by contrite politicians? Seriously, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that exact apology, nearly word-for-word, come out of the mouths of senators caught having sex with transvestite Thai hookers in the oval office, while doped to the gills on Mescalin. His apology reads like he’s admitting to an opportunity instead of a transgression, like by acknowledging what he did without any goddamn remorse he’s actually accepting a promotion! It’s sickening.

Also, what kind of an idiot wastes a bribe on a single MacBook Air? I don’t mean to suggest it isn’t an amazing product — everything Apple makes is perfect — but if you’re going to go for a bribe, why not go for something bigger, like hookers and cocaine? Daniel had already extorted other companies, and a laptop seems like the kind of thing you start with, not lead up to.

Kids, right?

I’d love to rub Arrington’s nose in this, because I hate the pompous bastard so much, but really, this just isn’t that interesting a story. It’s sad, sure, but hardly noteworthy. Someone out there is corrupt? Stop the goddamn WordPresses!

This has been Walt Mossberg; shut up.

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  1. Ben
    February 12, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Are you sure the senators weren’t high on mesclun?

  1. February 12, 2010 at 6:57 pm
  2. February 12, 2010 at 8:29 pm

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