Dan Lyons finally takes on a very obvious problem: Apple has too many friends in the media and rather than be critical of the company, they simply suck up to Apple in return for "super-secret" access.

Heads-up, Dan. It's old news. I've been complaining about this for years, about the rah-rah reviews by Apple-sponsored media in all the tier-one newspapers in the country. (You know, the guys who didn't even know that iPhone 1.0 couldn't sync with Outlook correctly because their Apple handlers ensure they only used it with a Mac.) This situation has always been bad, horrible. But I guess it's finally coming to light because Apple is now a much bigger and more influential company now.

Whatever. Welcome to the party.

The media's coverage of Apple bites. Here's why.

The worst thing about the coverage of the Steve Jobs health fiasco at Apple is not only that much of the media failed to pursue the story ... the media went beyond just ignoring the story and actually helped Apple tamp down the story, which kept bubbling up, usually on blogs.

It's one thing for PR flacks to tell lies. That is, after all, what they get paid to do. But it's another thing for the media to join in on the action.

The fact is, in the eyes of the media, Apple is the corporate equivalent of Barack Obama—a company that can do no wrong. Even in Silicon Valley, where much of the press corps are pretty much glorified cheerleaders (think of all those slobbering cover stories about the Google guys) Apple's kid-gloves treatment stands out. Reporters don't just overlook Apple's faults; they'll actually apologize for them, or rationalize them away. Ever seen reporters clapping and cheering at a press conference? Happens all the time at Apple events.

Thank you. Exactly. It's disgusting. And every time one of those so-called journalists actually breaks out into applause during a product pitch, they should simply be asked to leave. Eventually, we'll be left with the ones who aren't witless boobs.

Mary Jo Foley touches on this situation nicely (and, I should point out, accurately) in her own blog post on this subject today:

Reporters clapping at a Microsoft press conference? Maybe. Somewhere. But I hear/see a lot more jeers than cheers in the Microsoft press rooms and events where I’ve been present than I noticed the couple of times I’ve been at an Apple event.

Exactly right. So much for the benefits of "super secret" access on the Windows side.

But back to Dan. Because he brings up the most recent example of the media's inability to think clearly when it comes to Apple: Steve Jobs is clearly sick. And yet no-one has the cajones to just admit it.

Anyone with half a brain and pair of eyes could look at Steve Jobs last June and know that this was not a healthy 53-year-old man. Yet for months Apple fanboys and Apple's friends in the media have bent themselves into pretzels in search of ways to argue that he's in fine health.

Yep. And the side effect of this is that when people do mention it--as I have--you get these antagonistic emails from Apple fanatics wondering what the frick your problem is. I mean, how dare you question Apple or His Holiness, Mr. Jobs?

It's a quite a little world you people have invented for yourself. It really is.

But then, this has been my issue with the more fanatical corners of the Mac community for a long, long time. Here it is, laid out nice and simple:

Some of my colleagues in the media have made a Faustian bargain with Apple. In exchange for super-special access ... they tacitly agree not to criticize the company or even to say things it doesn't like.

Remember that the next time you read an Apple product review.