Apple hired and then fired an employee over complaints about his 2016 memoir

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this story before. A high profile figure was hired and then quickly fired after an outburst from within the company that the new person was racist and sexist because of something they’d written years earlier. In this case the company was Apple and the new hire was named Antonio García Martínez.

Martinez worked on Wall Street and then moved to Facebook where he ran their Ad department for a time. He also wrote a memoir about his experiences in Silicon Valley called Chaos Monkeys which became a bestseller. I haven’t read the book but Martinez says it was an attempt at Hunter S. Thompson gonzo journalism, i.e. the kind of thing that is more about conveying the world as the person sees it than about carefully substantiated facts. But a few passages from the book were circulated online and led to a group of about 2,000 Apple employees signing a letter accusing Martinez of being racist and sexist. The Verge published the full text of the letter.

We are deeply concerned about the recent hiring of Antonio García Martínez. His misogynistic statements in his autobiography — such as “Most women in the Bay Area are soft and weak, cosseted and naive despite their claims of worldliness, and generally full of shit” (further quoted below this letter) — directly oppose Apple’s commitment to Inclusion & Diversity. We are profoundly distraught by what this hire means for Apple’s commitment to its inclusion goals, as well as its real and immediate impact on those working near Mr. García Martínez. It calls into question parts of our system of inclusion at Apple, including hiring panels, background checks, and our process to ensure our existing culture of inclusion is strong enough to withstand individuals who don’t share our inclusive values.

It is concerning that the views Mr. García Martínez expresses in his 2016 book Chaos Monkeys were overlooked — or worse, excused — during his background check or hiring panel. We demand an investigation into how his published views on women and people of color were missed or ignored, along with a clear plan of action to prevent this from happening again.

The letter goes on to include a list of objectionable excerpts from his book. The one that seems to have gotten the most attention is this one:

Most women in the Bay Area are soft and weak, cosseted and naive despite their claims of worldliness, and generally full of shit. They have their self-regarding entitlement feminism, and ceaselessly vaunt their independence, but the reality is, come the epidemic plague or foreign invasion, they’d become precisely the sort of useless baggage you’d trade for a box of shotgun shells or a jerry can of diesel.

The same day that story was published (last Wednesday), Martinez was let go. He didn’t say anything about it until Friday when he posted this thread on Twitter in which he made clear he was fired over the book excerpts despite the fact that Apple knew about those before hiring him.

In short, the mob got its way. Writing at Substack Matt Taibbi argues that the quote above was taken out of context. In the book, it was a colorful way of praising his new girlfriend (“British Trader”) who he contrasted favorably to the rest of the women he’d met in Silicon Valley. Here was the very next sentence after the “offensive” paragraph above.

British Trader, on the other hand, was the sort of woman who would end up a useful ally in that postapocalypse, doing whatever work—be it carpentry, animal husbandry, or a shotgun blast to someone’s back—required doing.

Again, this isn’t meant as a dry assessment of women in northern California. It’s a style of writing which is obviously using a lot of hyperbole (a Mad Max post-apocalypse) to offer a compliment in the context of a romantic relationship. Taibbi goes on to point out how the media jumped on the social justice pile on and firing of Martinez with both feet:

The Verge triumphantly reported on Apple’s move using the headline, “‘Misogynistic’ Apple hire is out hours after employees call for investigation.” Other companies followed suit with the same formulation. CNN: “Apple parts ways with newly hired ex-Facebook employee after workers cite ‘misogynistic’ writing.” CNET: “Apple reportedly cuts ties with employee amid uproar over misogynistic writing.”

Apple by this point not only issued a statement declaring that Antonio’s “behavior” was demeaning and discriminatory, but by essentially endorsing the complaints of their letter-writing employees, poured jet fuel on headline descriptions of him as a misogynist. It’s cowardly, defamatory, and probably renders him unhirable in the industry, but this is far from the most absurd aspect of the story.

Taibbi also points out there’s some obvious hypocrisy involved for the Apple employees suddenly concerned about misogynists’ creating a hostile environment at the company.

I’m a fan of Dr. Dre’s music and have been since the N.W.A. days. It’s not any of my business if he wants to make $3 billion selling Beats by Dre to Apple, earning himself a place on the board in the process. But if 2,000 Apple employees are going to insist that they feel literally unsafe working alongside a man who wrote a love letter to a woman who towers over him in heels, I’d like to hear their take on serving under, and massively profiting from a partnership with, the author of such classics as “Bitches Ain’t Shit” and “Lyrical Gangbang,” who is also the subject of such articles as “Here’s What’s Missing from Straight Outta Compton: Me and the Other Women Dr. Dre Beat Up.”

Is Martinez’ book really that misogynistic? Cathy Young pointed out that the Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan reviewed the book in 2016 and didn’t seem to notice. Sullivan wrote: “There’s a whiff of Hunter S. Thompson in García Martínez’s frenzied pace and bad-boy exploits, though his prose is inferior. But who can object when the insights are so pointed and the details so juicy?”

The bottom line here is that Apple is plagued with woke social justice whiners eager to claim scalps from heretics, just like the NY Times and seemingly every other company these days. I’ll give the last word to Martinez. Remember when Apple’s motto was Think Different?