Infidelity. Adultery. Those aren't exactly words that come on typical candy conversation hearts. Valentine's Day is after all a traditional holiday of love and romance, not of cheating and betrayal.
Yet, Bloomberg Businessweek used the holiday to highlight AshleyMadison.com a website that helps married people (7 out of 10 on the site are men) have affairs. The company's motto is "Life is short. Have an affair."
Like Ashley Madison, Bloomberg Businessweek must be counting on the idea that "sex sells." The magazine's offensively sexed-up cover design showed a woman's spread, fishnet-clad legs and was clearly an attempt to grab readers. On the newsstand copy those legs take up a little more than a quarter of the page, but an image on the BusinessWeek website shows a much larger image of legs taking up the entire cover.
Bloomberg Businessweek too sympathetically detailed the hurdles CEO Noel Biderman, the "lone genius-possibly evil and certainly entrepreneurial-behind Ashley Madison," has faced running such an "illicit" business including the difficulty of public relations for a company that helps people cheat and get away with it.
The magazine refused to take a stand for morality saying only that, "[Biderman] is running a budding empire built on an activity that most people would say is wrong."
Biderman complained about Fox's refusal to air an Ashley Madison Super Bowl commercial, Facebook's reluctance to accept their advertisements and investors' that have walked away because of what the company does.
But still, BusinessWeek closed out the story by trying to make Biderman look like a good husband and father even after he admitted in the story that he would "stray" if "sex was now off her [his wife's] radar."
The final paragraph read, "Then Biderman paused to check his BlackBerry. 'My wife just called, that's the one phone call I like to return,' he says. 'It's my son's birthday today. I'm supposed to sneak out to go to his school to give him a cake.'"