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Facebook Falls Victim to Media's Revenge Reflex

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The media often yammers in one direction then, when proven wrong, starts yammering in the complete opposite direction.

This was rarely more evident than in the case of Facebook (FB - Get Report).

Before its IPO, Mark Zuckerberg (and his company) was the best thing since sliced Apple (AAPL - Get Report). Now? They're the gang that can't shoot straight.

The New York Times (NYT) broke news during the holiday weekend that Facebook has been poaching Apple engineers in an attempt to produce its own smartphone, perhaps for release next year.

In reaction, the media needs to be unflinching and this, to be certain, is a difficult initiative. Hewlett Packard (HPQ) and Dell (DELL) have already failed. It will probably be even more of a challenge for Facebook, a social media company, to shift into hardware. In addition to competing with Apple, they'll be going against Google (GOOG). As a result, chances of success are doubtful. But -- and this is an important distinction -- a chance does exist.

That metaphysical possibility, though, is lost on the media now that they've crossed over from "Facebook is All Good" to "Facebook is Evil" mode.

Fortune ran a headline: "Facebook's iPhone: The most ill-fated idea since Palm Pre?"

The premise of the article was that Palm once hired an engineer away from Steve Jobs' NeXT and it didn't work out, so this won't either. That was, uh, how many years ago and, besides, it's a sample of one. Should you really be absolute in your negativity based on a sample of one?

Business Insider went a similar route, with the headline: "If Facebook Really Goes Into the Mobile Hardware Business, Investors Should Run Away Screaming."

Look: hell hath no fury like a disappointed media. After the Facebook offering, they simply spun on their heels and are marching in the opposite direction. Facebook has its work cut out for them, but don't dismiss them, like the media, as a revenge reflex.
At the time of publication, Fuchs had no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this column.

Marek Fuchs was a stockbroker for Shearson Lehman Brothers and a money manager before becoming a journalist who wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column for six years. He also did back-up beat coverage of The New York Knicks for the paper's Sports section for two seasons and covered other professional and collegiate sports. He has contributed frequently to many of the Times' other sections, including National, Metro, Escapes, Style, Real Estate, Arts & Leisure, Travel, Money & Business, Circuits and the Op-Ed Page.

For his "Business Press Maven" column on how business and finance are covered by the media, Fuchs was named best business journalist critic in the nation by the Talking Biz website at The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Fuchs is a frequent speaker on the business media, in venues ranging from National Public Radio to the annual conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

Fuchs appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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