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Aaron Sorkin slams Tim Cook: “You’ve got a lot of nerve calling someone else opportunistic.”


Aaron Sorkin responded to Tim Cook’s recent criticism of filmmakers who have created a number of recent Steve Jobs biopics as “opportunistic,” pushing back against the claim by highlighting Apple’s decision to manufacture its products overseas using cheap labor:

“Nobody did this movie to get rich,” he said. “Secondly, Tim Cook should really see the movie before he decides what it is.”

“Third, if you’ve got a factory full of children in China assembling phones for 17 cents an hour you’ve got a lot of nerve calling someone else opportunistic.”

Sorkin was the screenwriter behind the upcoming film Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender as the titular entrepeneur. The movie will be released on October 9th after undergoing several casting and staffing changes, and even changing studios.

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  1. - 8 years ago

    Wow, I didn’t expect Sorkin to be such an idiot.

    He’s either whipping up some publicity, or he’s back on the nose candy…

  2. Benjamin (@NSbenjamins) - 8 years ago

    “you’ve got a factory full of children in China assembling phones for 17 cents an hour ”

    I hope he realizes that he is opening himself for a lot of legal trouble if Apple decides to sue.

    • Kristopher Rowe - 8 years ago

      Holy cow! I love Apple as much as anyone here–except Ben Lovejoy–but a lawsuit? For what?

      • Ron Ernie (@ronernie) - 8 years ago

        Apple uses cheap labor and makes a fortune selling to the glutinous American consumer.

    • srgmac - 8 years ago

      I don’t think it would be in Apple’s best interest to sue, especially given the whole suicide net fiasco that happened in the not so distant past — he may have got the details wrong, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t right in general about how Apple is making billions while their lifeblood Chinese employees are making dog scraps. I think Apple spends more on Tim Cook’s bodyguards in one year than a Chinese employee of Foxconn makes in 10 years.

      • Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 8 years ago

        Um, the Foxconn employees get paid similarly to other employees at similar companies in China doing the same jobs having no education. Apple can only do so much in how Foxconn treats their employees. When Apple personnel visit Foxconn and Foxconn’s management hides information from Apple personnel, how is Apple supposed to know what’s really going on? The other flip side is that if Apple wanted to switch outsourcing partners, they can’t just press a button and have product flow instantly. It takes time to build buildings, get them ready for production and have everything switched over. It it were that easy, then Apple could have done that, but it’s not that simple. Plus, it’s difficult for an US based company to change a foreign companies business practices if the company is within the laws of that country. I think the Chinese Government should have been more involved from the beginning and the Chinese government should be slamming Foxconn rather than Apple taking all of the blame. I think people should be blaming the execs at Foxconn and the Chinese government for not taking care of this rather than placing so much blame on Apple. They have made inroads as they have increased their wages, they work a maximum of 60 hours a week, etc. It’s not something they can immediately fix. They only have so much room/people to push out so much product. In the mean time, they are implementing more robots to increase production capacity without having to hire more people. Hmmmmmm. Robots taking the place of employees. And what happens to those employees? If a robot can do the same thing, then they need less employees, but that’s the direction of mfg these days, more automation requiring less people to do the same job.

      • gopetblog - 8 years ago

        Suicide is nothing to do with the phone. Foxconn is one of the largest employers in China. It has around 10 million workers. I lives in a high tech city outside China, with lots of wealth. In the daily news, there are suicides all the time, young and old. And that is from problems in life.
        But could be worse is in China because the young people often have to travel to another province to live in factory dormitories to work. Very mentally stretching because many of them had never left home before, and they don’t have enough time to travel home until a holiday that last for a week. A long weekend is inadequate and costly in time for them to travel long distance to visit their families.

      • srgmac - 7 years ago

        @Rich Davis (I can’t respond directly to your comment because of this idiotic comment system 9to5Mac uses): 60 hours a week, for 1.50 per hour — there is no reason why in 2015 that has to be acceptable anywhere in the world at all. We have the technology, we have the resources, and we have the money to get rid of this problem. If you want to make excuses, that’s fine, but I won’t. I don’t think I could last a month working 60 hours a week for that pay, let alone years like these FoxConn employees. Do you? Put yourself in their shoes; it’s called empathy…

      • Paul Andrew Dixon - 7 years ago

        you can’t compare one economy with the other – it’s very difficult to do that… $1.50 may seem like a very low salary to us, but in china it’s an average salary… yes they work long hours, but the other solution would be to divide that 60 hours between two people — although this would mean more people employed, it would also mean factories have to take on double the work force and accommodate them…already the dormitories are very full…but if they are doing half the ‘normal’ hours and the company is having to build more dormitories, then where is this money coming from…

        Dont forget the cost of living is cheaper in China…

        I’m not saying that the conditions are great – but lets face it, even in western countries there are issues —

        finally, the chinese people have very little choice – there is no welfare system…

        If Foxconn were to pay western minimum wage, make them work western hours – then about 50% of their 10mil work force will become unemployed, dormitories will be closed because they cost money, less products will be made, chinas economy will fall because foreign companies will have to find other countries to make up the rest of the product count…

        It’s easy for us to sit at home and say “put the wages up, lower the hours” — but this will have a huge affect on china

    • Abraham Song - 8 years ago

      This isn’t the UK. Apple wouldn’t get very far if they tried to sue for this.

  3. Nick Donnelly - 8 years ago

    Lets see some proof for child labour in China and 17c per hour. There isn’t any because it doesn’t happen – Sorkin has made a fool of himself there – he should have risen above this.

    • Kristopher Rowe - 8 years ago

      How are none of you seeing this for what it is?!?! Someone should call ol Timmy out for saying stupid things!

      • plooms - 8 years ago

        Call me opportunistic and I’ll likely take it as a compliment, if not, at least a professional dig. There is nothing professional or respectable about Sorkin’s response

      • Smigit - 7 years ago

        @plooms: you’ve overlooked the context that the word was used in. The following sentence in the quote went on to say it was one of the human traits he most despised.

        That said, Sorken shouldn’t have responded how he did. Firstly Tim wasn’t targeting everything that’s come out, in fact him and other executives put their support behind the book Becomming Steve Jobs. Sorken should have just invited Tim to view the movie first than start a war of words. Also no one cares about Sorkens pay, and if we saw the figure I doubt too many of us would feel sorry for him taking a pay cut to work on the project.

    • Ask and you shale receive. IDK if you have been living under a rock but things like this have been well documented since the first iPhone.

      You can Google around for more but before Apple started monitoring it’s supply chain these claims were verified to be true (Apple now audits is suppliers but some slip through the cracks).

      Apple was never “directly” involved in pre-monitoring (or post for that matter) child labor cases however you must be a fool if you believe Apple wasn’t aware or suspicious that these things were going on since Foxconn and other Apple suppliers have been busted for this repeatedly since the 90s.

      I will say that is is not an Apple only epidemic but you asked for proof ;)

  4. Nick Donnelly - 8 years ago

    …or great publicity stunt.

  5. srgmac - 8 years ago

    Good point — “if you’ve got a factory full of children in China assembling phones for 17 cents an hour you’ve got a lot of nerve calling someone else opportunistic.” — I realize China is not known for it’s opportunities for employment, but that still does not mean the workers are not being exploited and being paid pennies while Apple makes billions. In a perfect world, workers would be treated just as well as management; I guess we have a long way to go.

    • Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 8 years ago

      They actually pay quite a bit more than $.17 an hour. I believe they are at about $2.50 an hour and around $3.75+ for overtime. Apple doesn’t set the pay scale for Foxconn employees. All Apple does is they got to potential vendors about a product, they ask how much per unit and if they have to spend any money on tooling and they plan accordingly. What Foxconn gets per unit and what they pay for hourly wages is Foxconn’s ultimate decision. And, in case people have been sleeping, the cost of living in China is a lot less than the US. They have dorms for their employees, what US companies actually house their employees? Not many that I’m aware of.

      • Dave Huntley - 7 years ago

        Samsung, BB and others have all used foxconn – so Sorkin’s mistake is blaming apple alone. I am sure his studio bosses will be mighty pleased bringing in negative publicity…. Howver I would love to know what phone, mobile and car he drives as well as his clothing brands as all of them do fabrication in the third world.
        If you go to southern china mind you most workers are very happy, life was far worse in the rural areas they came from before all the favtories opened up.

      • srgmac - 7 years ago

        Please stop making excuses. There is no excuse for treating workers this way and paying them that little in 2015. I don’t care where they are in the world or what their government is like — it’s morally wrong any way you try to spin it.

    • Paul Andrew Dixon - 7 years ago

      if apple did not use china to make products, then allllllll those people would be unemployed…. if apple put the wages up they would have to be stricter on who they allowed to work for them…the increased salaries would put pressure on other companies, some will increase their salaries, others will have to close – which will put thousands of people out of a job… the increased salaries will also increase the cost of items inside china, which would further increase the gap between the rich and the poor…

      China is an over populated countries that does not have enough jobs… it has so many people competing against each other that companies can lower the salary to get the best labour and a cheap price – there are people waiting for a job, some are so desperate that they are willing to work for less…

      Apple cant just change things over night – it has put in place stricter rules and tried to create better working environments — but it has to trust the people at the factories…unfortunately people lie and cannot always be trusted…

      It’s like when i was younger and i had a Mcdonald job to get me through college – i worked at 4 different restaurants… each place was different…some managers were great and was very efficient and kept a clean store – other places were crap, unless they knew an inspector was coming and then they would put their best people on shift and offer over time the day before to do cleaning…after the inspectors when, things fell a part again…

      But you can’t hold Apple accountable for Chinas economy and work ethics – they are not the only company trading there and they are certainly not the government…

      Actually – anyone who owns any product that says “made in china” is supporting china — the more you keep demanding, the more pressure is put on china to produce more for less.

  6. thatautguy - 8 years ago

    “Nobody did this movie to get rich,” – yeah, I’m sure the studio and everyone involved made the movie for purely altruistic reasons…

    • Mike Beasley - 8 years ago

      Well, when you factor in the fact that Universal only got the rights to this after Sony decided it wouldn’t bring in enough money, maybe this will end up all being for nothing haha

      • Jay Huang - 8 years ago

        Well, I can tell you a reliable fact. Sorkin is both childish and ignorant. I live in China and Foxconn is the factory that I wanted to go in. But I failed. Because I failed the entrance test. Foxconn on average pays 4000RMB a month, which is 627USD. And normal work hours is 8 hours/day. And you work 5 days a week. So for one day, you get 4000/20days=200RMB/day. And 200RMB/8hours=25RMB/hours, which is 3.9USD/hours. In China we consider it is good pay already. And the best part is most people proactively ask for more and more extra work. Because if you work one additional hour you get twice as much as your regular salary! And Foxconn has movie theater and ball rooms and swimming pools and libraries and lots of good stuff for its employees! Come on, Americans! Chinese controlled media and news agencies basically hate America over your attitude toward Taiwan an Japan. So they try as hard as they can to black mouth American companies and if Sorkin’s words are true, it will be all over the Chinese media and Apple will face serious lawsuit in China. Today, in China most people except for famers are well paid. Sorkin doesn’t have the slightest idea about China, yet he make unfounded claims not based on facts. Only Americans he can fool! China is the second largest market for China and are Apple products inexpensive?!

      • airmanchairman - 8 years ago

        Yep. hence the Snorkastic tirade, a feeble attempt to drum up possibly non-existent sales or profits.

  7. Steve (@SteveJaay) - 8 years ago

    I guess he doesn’t care about the children when he buys new phones, computers or other tech stuff.
    So that makes him a bit hypocritical…

    • mikegwest - 8 years ago

      You are not automatically a hypocrite if you purchase products that are manufactured by methods which you disagree with. Not obsessively dedicated to the cause, sure, but not necessarily a hypocrite.

      • Steve (@SteveJaay) - 8 years ago

        From the moment we know how they are made or build, we are guilty for buying it too… but in this case, he needs to prove if thats true or not… but he believe’s that’s true, then he’s indeed hypocritical.

      • mikegwest - 8 years ago

        If I decided to hire children in China to manufacture something, after denouncing Apple for it, then I would be a hypocrite. Buying something even though I disagree with the way it’s manufactured does not make me a hypocrite.

      • gopetblog - 8 years ago

        If you believe that animals should not be slaughtered for meat, and you daily eat meat, yes you are a hypocrite.

  8. mikegwest - 8 years ago

    Well said. I think anyone with a brain has a really hard time not saying the same thing. While Apple may not be using Children, specifically, I don’t think they have ANY room calling ANYONE opportunistic. Though there will be the fanbois…per usual.

  9. srgmac - 8 years ago

    I ask you, even if you like Apple, that if you care about issues like income inequality, please try to fight the urge to be on Apple’s side on this one — Yes, Sorkin got the details wrong, they make more than 17cents an hour, it’s actually about 1.50-2.50 per hour, and Apple have done a lot to better the working conditions of their supplier’s employees — but remember what it had to come to for them to do something about it…Foxconn put SUICIDE NETS around the buildings the workers were jumping off of…think about how messed up that is. Bottom line is, they are making billions, they could do more on this issue. Income equality is a serious issue that we can not just brush off, even when talking about the global economy.

    • Poster - 8 years ago

      First, how do you know that the employer (Foxconn) wasn’t lying to Apple about conditions (you attempt to make Apple look heartless and/or uninvolved)? Apple’s hands-on management of worker facilities after such incidents suggests to me and I bet most reasonable people that Apple was not aware of how bad the situation was. Second, how many suicides were there? You don’t say. Is that because you don’t know? Third, why lecture us on what somebody else does with their money? How do you know that something else could be done? Know much about Chinese politics? I sure don’t. In any case, I know I don’t know enough to know that definitively, something else could have been done. I don’t assume without knowledge, based on mercy run amuck.

      ROTFL @ income inequality. If I’ve paid for dental school and I still make the same wages as I did when I was 17 working at Arby’s, something is wrong. And you’d better believe that some people deserve to be paid more than others. Firefighters, for instance, deserve every penny they make. Same thing with software geniuses, crazy-skilled musicians, and so on.

    • Rick Ludwig - 8 years ago

      Except there’s a difference here between taking Apple’s side and taking Tim Cook’s side. If Tim was making the comments on Apple’s behalf because he was afraid it would hurt Apple’s image, then you would have a point. I think Tim is upset not that a film was made about his boss and predecessor, rather he’s upset because it was made about his friend.

      If some filmmaker made a film about a friend of mine that only showed the dish-worthy stuff, I’d be upset too… And I probably wouldn’t have Tim’s restraint.

    • WaveMedia (@WaveMedia) - 7 years ago

      The suicide nets were actually on the Xbox production line, nothing to do with any Apple products. Foxconn make products for hundreds of companies. Their rate of pay is actually comparatively better than a lot of people working in the US and Europe when you take into consideration the cost of living. These people CHOOSE to travel hundreds, some THOUSANDS of miles from their homes to work at these places. They have to turn away thousands of people every time they do a recruitment drive because they can’t hire them all.

      Also the suicide rate among their employees is lower than that of the US, it’s much lower than the suicide rate among high pressure jobs in the west too or physically demanding ones.

  10. Sorkin is a hack. I’m so disappointed that Danny Boyle took the directing job for this movie, the whole thing is so beneath him.

  11. Jake Becker - 8 years ago

    It is funny how everything that comes out of his face seems to be negative towards Apple, the scripthand behind the Jobs movie just happens to throw a punch anytime he has a chance…..but no, of course there’s no bias there.

    • airmanchairman - 8 years ago

      It’s simple; his marketing target, his hope for getting anything out of this venture, is actually the Apple Haters, and they are many. It’s an unusual strategy, to commercially exploit negative sentiment, but I guess it’s been done before.

      Problem is, the usual Apple hater also hates paying for anything at all, so good luck with trying to monetise that demographic…

  12. Cook shouldn’t slam on a movie based on the biography Steve Jobs chartered himself. Did Cook think that they wouldn’t make a movie based on this book?

    • Paul Andrew Dixon - 7 years ago

      Cook and Tim were very good friends – it’s only been 4 years… the movie makers who made Jobs! back in 2013 actually spoke with friends and family and shared the movie with them… the same with the book… this movie they havent really communicated with friends and family, nor have they shared it with them — it was made, and released to make money — there was no respect to the fact Jobs died 4 years ago and it is still hard for them.

  13. george1620 - 8 years ago

    Wow… Tim Cook may be CEO now, but Apple is still Steve Job’s creation. Even before he passed, Apple was using Chinese labor. The standards of that labor have been continuously improving. How could Sorkin say something like that? I would think that’d be highly offensive to Jobs himself.

  14. samuelsnay - 8 years ago

    1. Make movie that appeals to Apple fans
    2. Publicly insult the head of Apple
    3. ????
    4. Profit

  15. Howie Isaacks - 8 years ago

    Tim Cook is entitled to his opinion, and Aaron Sorkin can suck it.

  16. Dave Huntley - 8 years ago

    Sorkins drug reputation seems to be back in the headlights: just like Shaymalan he really does think he is more powerful than he really is…

    I think I would sue him if I had the cash, just so more people could read how imperfect and full of lies Sorkin has been….

  17. Tong Lu (@tong_psy) - 8 years ago

    It’s very hypocritical for him to accuse Tim Cook of not caring about Apple’s Chinese supply chain workers, while he himself doesn’t even bother to learn about why and how exactly those workers are being mistreated.

  18. Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 8 years ago

    Why did Sorkin make the movie? He’s doing more for the attention because that’s what happens when you do a movie against such a prolific icon. Heck, just using Jobs’ or Apple’s name in the headline of a news story is going to get a lot of attention.

  19. gopetblog - 8 years ago

    “17 cents an hour”, how can an intelligent person to make such a stupid comment. This means he has a distorted view of the world. He has been into China, he saw but he did not see.
    If you go into a Dollar Store, then most stuff are assembled by cheap labour, the whole fully assembled Toy or Tool is only a couple of dollars. On the opposite end of the scale, if that item is very expensive, it would hire the highest paid workers who are extremely skillful and focused on their job, along with good QC quality control personnel in every component of the phone.
    If you erred in anyone part of the whole assembly process, your iPhone will not be fully function-able. It could be discovered within the factory, disassembled and the component replaced, adding cost to the phone. Worst is if you the consumer discovered it, the phone will be couriered back to a factory and skillful QC would try to assess the repair-ability of the phone. You probably complained about the phone quality and then you will get a new phone free of charge. The whole process is an extremely costly mistake to the manufacturer. Now you know why some manufacturers would simply give you a new item instead of repairing your not working one, especially for a bulky item.
    Now you know why those news of cheap labour is not true for high tech items. Foxconn makes phones and high tech items for Sony, Sharp, Microsoft and most of the top name brands. Their salaries is much higher than average. Only smart (logical), educated (technical), good eye sight young workers are hired because every component in the phone is high tech and miniature in size.

  20. bellevueboy - 8 years ago

    Forget the movies half of the new articles that have “Apple” in the title are opportunistic. When all is positive write something negative and vice versa. Drive page views. U can also see these show up in the stock app for the aapl ticker.

  21. plooms - 8 years ago

    If he gets this defensive over Tim Cook saying Steve Jobs biography makers are opportunistic, then he must have even worse intentions. I wonder how mad he would have got if Tim said, “Steve Jobs biography makers are trashing one of the greatest visionaries of our time, trashing one of my best friends. ” which is probably how Tim really feels. Grow up Aaron and learn how to take a profession, mostly true, dig… Without crying like baby.

  22. Drew Goodman - 8 years ago

    A couple of poor millionaires sniping at each other. First world problems.

  23. decondos - 8 years ago

    Wow, clash of the titans. Some things are not worth saying. Some responses to things that were not worth saying are not worth saying either. Pretty silly!

  24. vxxxcv - 8 years ago

    Said true.I know,on this site,full of absolute idiots it sounds strange but thats true.

  25. leifashley - 8 years ago

    What a retard. Yea, as this is the … 3rd? 4th? Movie in some way about Jobs, it’s pretty obvious people are cashing in left and right. Come on… ANOTHER one?

    But that bullshit about Apple having a factory of kids in China is laughable. Everyone bitches and whines about Apple and Chinese labor… but Foxconn? Oh yea they’re ok, it’s Apple who is evil.

    Hey guess what kiddies? Apple has child labor right inside their campus too, because after all, if they can do it in China, why not do it here? True story. lmao… dumbasses.

  26. charismatron - 8 years ago

    No one will care in 10 . . . 9 . . . 8 . . . 7 . . .

  27. Snow Lepp (@snowlep) - 7 years ago

    Everyone manufactures in asia . That is a reality. You would not buy 99% of the products if they were made in USA . Sorkins comment is an insult to every CEO in America. In fact an insult to every person living in USA. Its like saying -hey if everyone in the world does not live as well as you you don’t have a conscience . And the media shouldn’t have bothered making all this noise about what he thinks anyway.

  28. Paul Andrew Dixon - 7 years ago

    Tim is not best friends with the people in China – he is doing what many companies are doing, except Apple does at least try a little bit to make working for Apple better than other places – wages are actually higher, living conditions are better, and working hours are better (of course compared to the west this is all very bad, but in China it’s better than average)… Tim also has to manage a company that has a lot of demands from the public and companies to produce products that will keep them satisfied.

    The movie companies have realised that Apple is pretty big at the moment and have found away to make money on that by making many movies about a guy who died not long ago… these companies have to remember that Steve Jobs was a husband, a father, a son, and a friend to many people – all these people have to accept everyday that they lost someone dear to them at a young age… They have already released two in 2013 – 2 years after his death and one was a parody…now they are releasing another one and it has only been 4 years since his death and 2 years since the last one…

    What probably would have been nice, is if the movie company had talked to the friends and family for their input — instead the movie makers have realised there is still a huge interest in steve jobs and they can make money from him…

    Surely you would have asked those closest to steve to watch the film before the release, partly for their approval but mostly to show respect – but they didnt – i think thats the main issue… the film makers have shown little respect to the friends and family who were very close to steve

  29. Scott Salser-Smith - 7 years ago

    Tim Cook was talking about a recent documentary. He didn’t even mention the Steve Jobs movie.

  30. Nitay A (@Boborbot) - 7 years ago

    People lose the most basic sense when talking about there factories. Its good for the people. No one forcing the people that work there – to work there, they choose to. So obviously the other work options that exist are as good or worse.

  31. Movie and story looks good but completely miscast.

  32. Stephen Lee Phillips - 7 years ago

    Sorkin should set his ego aside and return to scripting “The Newsroom”, or release the creative rights to someone else willing to commit the time and effort required to continue that excellent program…