Slander at Tom's Hardware
By Van Smith
Date: March 17, 2002
Slander is the promulgation of falsehoods with the intent to harm a person's reputation. It is against the law.
An editor of the gaming site HardGamers.com has provided us with an email thread that is evidence that the computer hobbyist site, Tom's Hardware Guide, has committed slander.
As most of our readers know, I am a former Senior Editor of THG. I quit in December, 2000 for reasons I have not yet publicly disclosed. As principal American contributor to the site, roughly forty of my articles were published there. I had by far the highest level of output of any editor working there during that time. Some of my articles had profound industry impact including my exposes on Rambus RDRAM, which disproved performance claims maintained by Rambus and Intel for the Pentium III implementations of this memory technology (Reuters, MSNBC and other major news organizations reported that one of my articles was responsible for a single day $150 per share Rambus stock crash). As chief liaison between THG and Intel, I also played a critical role in the recall of the 1.13GHz Pentium III. During my time at THG, the site experienced a resurrection, with page views growing about 50% with consistent month-to-month improvements.
In the last few days, however, Tom's Hardware Guide has committed one of the most egregious journalistic affronts by altering the articles' bylines to ascribe these works to either anonymous "staff" sources, or to other individuals entirely. After these byline modifications were reported by AMDZone and the inquirer, Tom's Hardware Guide quickly removed the bylines altogether from most of these articles. (A "byline" is the authorship credit to an article; a line usually delineated with the word "By" as in this article.)
However, at least one article [03/20/02 Edit: Clicking on this link, now takes one to the THG CPU Guide Index] retains an altered byline that fallaciously claims authorship for Thomas Pabst himself. [UPDATE: This cached Google image shows the original version. UPDATE 2 (3/20/2002): The THG link above no longer works, but takes you to the CPU Guide instead. Apparently, all of my articles have now been yanked from Tom's Hardware. Thanks LB for the information. Thanks to Michael Moore, we have discovered that "libel" also applies to email even though email fails the traditional "tangible, touchable evidence" test.]
The byline modifications are clearly intentioned to "whitewash," as Mike Magee of the inquirer labeled these edits, my contributions to Tom's Hardware. In addition to the byline changes, edits to obscure authorship were made to associated article summaries and even to the articles themselves.
Since those two reports appeared, we have gotten many letters of support, condemning Tom's Hardware Guide for these actions. If we have not responded to your email yet, we apologize, but we have been overloaded with work and other obligations. However, we are very grateful for each and every letter.
Several readers have forwarded to us messages they have sent to Tom's Hardware demanding that the original and correct bylines be reinstated.
Philippe Carrier of HardGamers.com sent us an email thread that shows deliberate intent on the part of Tom's Hardware Guide to harm my reputation and career by promoting ill intentioned fictions in an attempt to erase all of my contributions to that site.
Here is the unaltered email thread.
From: Philippe Carrier [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Saturday, March 16, 2002 2:40 PM
Subject: Fw: Shame Shame for removing credit to Van Smith
Looks like you don't exist ! Keep the faith :P I bet they'll receive so many damn emails they'll get fed up and put your name back :)Phil----- Original Message -----From: Omid RahmatTo: 'Philippe Carrier' ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.orgSent: Saturday, March 16, 2002 12:53 PMSubject: RE: Shame Shame for removing credit to Van Smith
I'm sorry, but what are you talking about? Who is Van Smith, and what credit do we have to give back to him?I have no idea what you are talking about.
Tom's Guides Publishing
From: Philippe Carrier [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Saturday, March 16, 2002 6:23 AM
To: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Subject: Shame Shame for removing credit to Van Smith
Mr Pabst, Mr Rahmat, Mr Cullen, Mr Greene,I hope you'll give credit back to Van Smith ASAP on THG. This is not the first time THG has made bad decisions. We keep reading because there aren't that many good hardware sites but this is just foolish.Where is your honour gentleman ?
Public Relations, Editor-in-Chief - Consoles
Although I never met Mr. Rahmat in person since he joined THG after I left, he exchanged several emails with my wife and me. He also telephoned my home to arrange transfer of equipment.
It is manifest that Thomas Pabst sanctioned Mr. Rahmat's response, since Thomas was addressed on the correspondence and Rahmat clearly identifies himself as a THG representative.
A journalist's reputation is based upon his established body of work. By removing credits to the vast number of articles I provided for their site, and by the deliberate act of denying knowledge of my working there, Tom's Hardware Guide is mindfully attempting to damage and subvert my career as a journalist.
To meet the criminal definition of slander, there must be a premeditated attempt to injure a person's reputation by spreading falsehoods.
The selective alteration and subsequent removal of bylines associated with my articles combined with other edits to remove any reference to me harm my reputation and career by excising a significant portion of my work, work that was published by THG under no formalized contract with me.
The subsequent note by Mr. Rahmat is a falsehood easily demonstrated in court. The association of this intentionally fallacious note with the contemporaneous byline alterations, clearly shows that Tom's Hardware Guide is executing a strategy to cause harm to my reputation and career by spreading calculated falsehoods.
Tom's Hardware Guide is guilty of criminal slander.
Pssst! We've updated our Shopping Page.