ABC's Apple Exclusive Raises Suspicions Of Corporate Ties

Disney-owned ABC was granted exclusive access to Tuesday's Apple event, and media watchers are suspicious Apple might have been playing favorites.

ABC's Apple Exclusive Raises Suspicions Of Corporate Ties
Getty Images / Spencer Piatt

While most folks watched Apple’s product launch event, others were looking at something else entirely — the media coverage. Specifically, ABC’s.

CNN media reporter Brian Stelter highlighted ABC's special access to Apple on Tuesday, which included an exclusive interview with CEO Tim Cook.

Citing ABC’s wide-ranging access to the event and the hype surrounding anchor David Muir’s rare interview with Cook, Stelter raises the question: “Did ABC win the interview through old-fashioned journalistic hustle or through corporate connections?”

Raising suspicion is the fact that ABC's parent company, The Walt Disney Company, has strong ties with Apple.

Disney actually came up a couple times during Apple’s presentation, including during the presentation for the new Apple Pay feature that will be usable at Walt Disney World as soon as the service launches in October.

That, combined with Disney CEO Bob Iger currently sitting on Apple’s board, was enough to raise a few eyebrows about ABC's special access.

Alex Weprin, another media reporter, has a label for this business-news relationship: corporate synergy.

On Twitter, Weprin recalled a segment on Good Morning America promoting a new Disney cruise ship and even interviewing Bob Iger about it.

But there might be a more innocent explanation for ABC's access. In response to Stelter, Re/Code tech writer Peter Kafka suggested Apple simply gives different outlets special privilege at different times. And Tuesday was ABC's turn.

As Kafka noted, it was actually NBC that scored an exclusive first-ever interview with Cook when he took over as Apple’s CEO in 2012.

And Businessweek nabbed an exclusive interview with not only Cook but Apple’s head of design Jony Ive in 2013.

So ABC isn't the only one to gain unique access to Apple. But the rumors of special treatment between the two companies do go back years.

The Wrap commented on the Disney/Apple relationship in 2011, saying: “Envious, puzzled or laggard rivals of Disney and Apple regularly whisper about the ties, insinuating that the former grants the latter access to its content goodies too readily or cheaply.”

And when ABC gained exclusive access to Apple’s Foxconn factories in China following reports of dangerous working conditions, a Forbes contributor said

“I don’t necessarily think that anything diabolical is going on between ABC and Apple, but the ties between the two companies via Disney certainly should make us wonder.” Though, to be fair, ABC disclosed its corporate ties in that report.

ABC's latest interview with Cook aired in full on "World News Tonight" Tuesday.

This video includes images from Getty Images.