Joe Nocera

Joe Nocera's thing about Apple

April 13, 2014: 5:12 AM ET

The New York Times Op-Ed columnist does it again.

Nocera. Photo: Fred R. Conrad/New York Times

Nocera. Photo: Fred R. Conrad/New York Times

FORTUNE -- As I said the last time I wrote about him, I've met Joe Nocera and he seems like a nice guy.

He's had a distinguished career as a business journalist -- including more than a decade at Fortune -- he's done some first-rate work on Apple (AAPL). "The Second Coming of Steve Jobs," a profile for Esquire of the entrepreneur at age 31, may be the best close-up portrait of Jobs that anybody has written, before or since.

But ever since Jobs lied to Nocera about being cancer-free -- in the 2008 phone call that famously began "This is Steve Jobs. You think I'm an arrogant [expletive] who thinks he's above the law, and I think you're a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong" -- Nocera has adopted a reflexively anti-Apple stance that seems, frankly, unprofessional. It's as if he were trying to prove Jobs right about his relationship with the facts.

The most egregious example of this was the New York Times Op-Ed column Nocera wrote after CEO Tim Cook's 2013 appearance before a Senate subcommittee investigating Apple's overseas tax strategies, in which he accused Cook of telling, under oath, a "flat-out lie."

I happen to agree with Nocera that funneling tens of billions of dollars through a holding company that has tax residency in no country on earth seems to violate the spirit of the law, despite Cook's assertions to the contrary.

But the number of flat-out errors in Nocera's "flat-out lie" column left me with the clear impression that he wrote it without bothering to listen to the hearings or read the transcript. (See Joe Nocera does it again.)

Well, he's done it again.

The Apple Chronicles, Nocera's column in Saturday's New York Times, heaps praise on a book -- Yukari Kane's Haunted Empire -- that every reviewer who read the book and knows anything about Apple has slammed.

Given all this, Nocera's take on Apple's second big patent infringement suit against Samsung, now entering its third week, is unsurprising.

"The only real way to stave off further decline is to come out with a product that establishes a whole new category — the way the iPad did in 2010. But that seems unlikely. 'Outside the echo chamber of Apple's headquarters, the notion of the company's exceptionalism has been shattered,' Kane writes.

"Which brings me back to the litigation with Samsung — the company that is coming to market with products that are every bit as good as Apple's, and at a lower price to boot. This never-ending litigation is yet another sign that Apple is becoming a spent force."

There are readers who will agree with every word of that last sentence. But we'll just have to see, won't we?

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