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Posted at 2:30 PM ET, 06/ 2/2010

Steve Jobs challenges Pulitzer cartoonist's handling of app 'rejection' [UPDATED]

By Michael Cavna


When it comes to Apple's response to cartoon-app submissions, Steve Jobs may or may not have just called newly minted Pulitzer Prize winner Mark Fiore a liar. At the least, Jobs questions Fiore's handling of his app submission.

How you interpret the tone and target of Jobs's rhetoric on Tuesday at the Wall Street Journal's D8 tech conference depends on whose transcript or account you believe. The exchange centers on Apple's recent acceptance of Fiore's "NewsToons" iPhone app after Fiore won his Pulitzer in April -- and after Fiore said his app submission was "rejected" by Apple back in December.

According to Engadget, Jobs responded to a question last night about the app-store rejection by saying:
"So this guy submits his app and he gets rejected. We didn't see that coming. So we changed the rule, but this guy never resubmitted... then he wins a Pulitzer Prize, and he says we rejected him. So, we are guilty of making mistakes. We're doing the best we can, we're learning as fast as we can -- but we thought this rule made sense."

When asked specifically about "that candidate" -- meaning Mark Fiore's case -- Jobs continues:

"We're doing the best we can, we're fixing mistakes. But what happens is -- people lie. And then they run to the press and tell people about this oppression, and they get their 15 minutes of fame. We don't run to the press and say "this guy is a son of a bitch liar!" -- we don't do that."

Accounts from D8 vary, but all the transcripts viewed by Comic Riffs (including the WSJ's own liveblog) indicate that Jobs replied that some people "lie" and "run to the press." (For the record: Fiore told Comic Riffs of his app rejection during an interview April 12 -- the same day he won his Pulitzer. Fiore was responding to a direct question about whether he was pursuing an iPhone app or other mobile content.)

Fiore sounded genuinely surprised by Jobs's characterization.

"If I'm hearing Steve Jobs correctly, he's essentially calling me a liar who is just seeking 15 minutes of fame -- which, as a cartoonist, is a very funny thing to hear from someone who regularly speaks in front of 30-foot screens projecting his image," Fiore tells Comic Riffs.

"I've always made a point of being open about my whole experience with the Apple and have never sought out confrontation," Fiore continued. "My NewsToons app was, in fact, rejected. ... The reason I never resubmitted the app was because I wasn't about to make the changes Apple sought and remove any 'content that ridicules public figures.' Ridiculing public figures is what I do and is an essential part of journalism."

Fiore won his Pulitzer in April for a series of animations that satirized Barack Obama and other politicians, as well as other public figures (including the party-crashing Salahis).

According to the rejection that Fiore says he received from Apple last Dec. 21, the company's reply concludes: "If you believe that you can make the necessary changes so that NewsToons does not violate the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, we encourage you to do so and resubmit it for review."

Fiore tells Comic Riffs: "What I am seeking is a clarification from Apple on their policy regarding satire and 'ridiculing public figures,' and a response to the letter the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists wrote Mr. Jobs. I fully support their right to pick and choose bad or good content for their store, but a blanket ban on ridicule is, um, ridiculous.

"If the doors are now open to satire and ridicule of public figures, then Steve Jobs has indeed corrected his 'mistake.' "

Save for adding the word "Pulitzer," Fiore says there was "zero difference" between his app as submitted in December and as re-submitted in April, when NewsToons was accepted.

As Fiore plans to update his NewsToon app, he adds: "Hopefully, I'll be able to reach Mr. Jobs directly and get a clarification."

Apple has not responded to Comic Riffs's calls seeking comment.


FASTER FORWARD: Jobs vs. cartoonist

THE RANT: Why does Apple hate political satire?

By Michael Cavna  | June 2, 2010; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  Geek Buzz, The Animation  | Tags:  Mark Fiore, NewsToons, Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning, Steve Jobs, iPhone application, political satire  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Donald Glover as Spider-Man? Like Spidey, the online campaign gains traction [UPDATED]
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Whether this was a direct quote or paraphrased, this was just a flat-out stupid thing for Steve Jobs to say -- if for no other reason than it reopens a p.r. spill that Jobs himself had already capped a few weeks ago.

Heck of job Stevie!

Posted by: Jape77 | June 2, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I really do not think Jobs is referring to Fiore when he talks about people going to the press and lying about the reasons their app was rejected.

Instead, Jobs specifically says they are guilty of a mistake in that case

There are plenty of cases where developers have made a public stink about their app being rejected. Jobs is saying that, in some of these cases, people are lying about the reasons why.

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Posted by: luccitrade | June 2, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

I really think Jobs blew this, but the quote that stuck out for me was this one from Fiore: "Ridiculing public figures is what I do and is an essential part of journalism."

Ridiculing public figures may be an essential part of being a political cartoonist, but an essential part of journalism?

Posted by: staxowax | June 3, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

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