How Intel Subverts Journalists

By Van Smith

Date: May 21, 2002

A Mike Magee article, published late yesterday, offers a public glimpse at what is common knowledge among journalists: Intel manipulates and subverts the media.

In the article, Magee exposes two internal Intel memos that discuss how the chipmaker works to get journalists "into line" by using a "tough love approach."  In the first of the two Intel notes, the subject is the effectiveness of these strategies on various journalists.

It's really a juggling act. We've had some luck (ie, Mark Hachman, EBN, and PC World editors) with tough love approach, telling them they'll get more access to us if they are more objective and less sensational/negative in their articles.

The trick is actually not giving them the "special" access after we go down that path.

In the case of Magee, his reporting doesn't indicate that he values the exec access and the efforts to build a stronger relationship. Hachman was the same way when we started working with him. There is no value for the special access until it stops and is given to someone else. Then they realize the benefits of "working with us." Hachman's writing has come full circle.

Mark Hachman works for ExtremeTech and is the author of the recent AMD Thoroughbred news article that we criticized for disclosing NDA material sent to that organization.  [You can read ExtremeTech's Editor-in-Chief's statements to us regarding this article as well as our responses in a thread on our message board.]

Intel's control of "special access," simultaneously a carrot and a stick, is a mechanism that we have discussed here many times before.  The chip titan has often tried to influence VHJ's editorial direction by turning the spigot on review hardware and information.  In fact, Intel even attempted to promote division in our site by secretly promising hardware to individuals officially representing VHJ (and encouraged them to freelance on other sites) on the condition that the material would not flow to this site.

Often discussed among journalists is the widely held belief that Intel "profiles" members of the media, building up portfolios of information used to help construct strategies to control particular pundits and news hacks.

It is also widely recognized that Intel employees anonymously frequent Internet message boards, posting remarks that can vary widely in tenor and civility.  Similarly, Intel employees are often suspected of sending anonymous email flames to journalists who criticize the chipmaker.

A case in point is a recent Hotmail email we received from a "Tim T" in response to our news article revealing Microsoft's firm level of commitment to AMD's x86-64.  The note was jarringly blunt and insulting, but also curiously defensive of Intel.

Having had years of experience with the chip giant, we immediately recognized the tactics in the note and wondered if the email might have originated from inside the chipmaker.  We exploited a little known feature in Hotmail to determine the sender's IP address:

Tim T's IP address is

The address looked familiar, but just to be certain we performed a lookup on whois.  As we suspected, "Tim T" sent his note from inside Intel headquarters:

Search results for:
Intel Corporation (NET-JF-INTEL-NET)
   2200 Mission College Blvd. SC4-203
   Santa Clara, CA 95052

For comparison, Intel press releases also originate from 134.134.248.X.

The following is the unedited message from Intel's "Tim T".  Note that he delineates quotes from our article with ">".  For clarity, we have highlighted Tim T's comments in magenta.  Surprisingly, the hostile tone seems to be equally directed at Microsoft as well as me.  Warning: the note contains profanity.

>Sources attending Seattle’s WinHEC 2002 maintained that Microsoft has successfully pressured Goliath chipmaker Intel Corporation into adopting archrival AMD’s new 64-bit chip language.

Wow I'm so surprised that you heard this at a Windows conference held in Seattle. Truly earthshattering news there dude.

> [Microsoft] expressed a clear preference for Advanced Micro Devices’ x86-64 instruction set over Intel’s competing IA-64.

Well no shit moron, because x86-64 is essentially the same instruction set, that was the whole point of "developing" it. Microsoft is too lazy to learn Intel's new set so they simply call it inferior. Classic Microsoft FUD.

> Furthermore, the OS developer advised Intel to comply with x86-64 if the Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker desired ongoing 64-bit support.

And I'm sure they are shaking in their boots too. I don't know if it ever occurred to you, but Microsoft is not the only developer in the world. Not only that, but if Microsoft wants to limit the range of hardware that their software can run on, well then they should go right ahead, profits be damned.

> x86-64 is a straightforward yet much more powerful evolution of the existing 32-bit x86 instruction set.

How's that exactly? It's based on a twenty year old architecture. To be honest, I don't WANT a chip that is binary compatible with early 80's hardware. I'm ready for the future. You and MS obviously are stuck in the distant past. BTW I have an old 256kb ISA vga card if you want it, it should run great in your Hammer system.

> Intel’s adoption of AMD’s x86-64 serves as a resounding victory for the much smaller MPU designer.

Why do you report this as if it's already happened? This is absolutely HORRIBLE journalism, you should be ashamed for producing such propogandist sensationalism.

> AMD is widely viewed as the superior innovator.

Oh I see, so AMD doubles the instruction size of their core and that's innovation, yet Intel's ground-up 64-bit design isn't? WHAT PLANET ARE YOU FROM???

> In fact, AMD has been awarded ... a total of 1,090 patents in 2001, ... Intel trailed with only 811

If you believe that US patents mean anything then you are truly lacking brain cells. Besides that I don't see 1090 vs 811 to be a significant difference, especially considering AMD would patent the brown chips coming out of their asses if they thought they could make a buck.

> Intel is expected to make a formal announcement of its x86-64 support, code-named “Yamhill,” in June or July during a face-saving presentation delivered with Microsoft.

I'll believe it when I see it, until then why don't you act like a real reporter and report the facts, not your own clearly biased opinions.

PS. So why aren't you working at Tom's anymore? I can't seem to be able to find any of your old articles on that site.... hmmmmm....

So the next time you visit a hardware message board filled with anonymous flames directed against critics of Intel or its allies, consider that the posts might just be coming from inside the chipmaker itself.


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