If there’s one thing that can be said of Bill Weir, it’s that he’s an honest guy when it comes to his ABC News blog.
The ABC News reporter was recently invited by Apple, Inc. on a tour of the company’s Chinese factories owned and operated by Foxconn, which has come under fire lately for labor and human rights issues that were brought to light by a New York Times article and an episode of the PRI program “This American Life.”
Since January, Apple has tried hard to repair its image — from shunning the New York Times piece, to instructing a non-profit labor group to begin inspecting working conditions at the Foxconn factories in China where iPhones, iPads and other Apple devices are manufactured.
Now, Apple’s taken their image-repair strategy another step: By extending an invitation to ABC’s Nightline to tour a Foxconn factory during an audit by the Fair Labor Association.
As Weir speculates, there may have been a few reasons why Nightline was hand-picked by Apple over other news magazine programs including 60 Minutes and Rock Center:
- Weir admits in his ABC News blog that he’s said positive things about Apple products in the past.
- The network that broadcasts Nightline, ABC, is owned by the Walt Disney Corporation. The CEO of the Walt Disney Corporation is Bob Iger, who serves on Apple’s Board of Directors.
- Steve Jobs had his hand in the development and operations of Emeryville, Calif.-based Pixar Animation Studios, which is now owned by the Walt Disney Corporation; The Steve Jobs Trust is Disney’s largest shareholder.
Could those three things present a possible conflict of interest? Will ABC’s reporting on conditions at Foxconn be balanced, fair and objective?
ABC’s motto is “See the Whole Picture” — we’ll have to tune in to our local ABC affiliate at 11:35 p.m. Tuesday to see if Weir delivers.
(Full disclosure: The author of this blog was previously employed in an editorial position by the Disney-ABC Television Group, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company)