Cook has publicly lauded the student survivors of the Parkland High School shooting for fighting to make schools safer. Nonetheless, he defended Apple’s decision to make the NRA’s TV channel available for users to download. He said airing alternate views, including those he finds “distasteful,” is important for public discourse.
“Public discourse is an important part of democracy,” Cook said in an interview airing tonight on MSNBC and Vox Media’s Recode show Revolution: Apple Changing the World. “Democracy without discourse is not a democracy.”
The role of NRATV came into focus in the aftermath of the Parkland. As leaders of the nation’s most powerful gun advocates kept a low profile, the organization’s online channel served as its below-the-media-radar voice. Online hosts have talked about plots to confiscate weapons and a media plot to push a gun-control agenda on the American public.
Several in Hollywood mounted a protest to pressure the digital platforms to drop NRATV, which is underwritten by the gun lobby.
Cook says he personally finds some of the viewpoints distasteful.
“I don’t even think they represent their members well, right, from the people that I know from my heritage in the South and so forth,” Cook said. “But their point of view, along with the alternate point of view, I think it’s actually important for the public to hear that, and I wish it could be done in a not vitriolic tone and the – all of the accusation and personal attack that is on there. I don’t subscribe to any of that at all.”
But free speech has its limits, Cook said.
“You can bet that we continue to monitor and if it walks into the path of hate speech or some of these other things then we’re cutting it off,” Cook said in a wide-ranging interview that touches on his views on privacy, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and the municipal bidding war to win Amazon’s second headquarters.
“From our point of view, we didn’t want to create this contest,” Cook said. “Because I think — because I think what comes out of that is you wind up putting people through a ton of work to select one. And – and so you wind up that is a case where you have a winner and a lot of losers, unfortunately. I don’t like that.”
The full interview airs at 5 PM Pacific tonight.