This discussion about the PR/media relationships just brings us (almost) full circle to another series of discussion years ago on 1UP Yours where Luke Smith (yeah, that guy a fair amount of you guys didn't like) went through his troubles with PR, how he would be excluded for certain preview events, and how Garnett mentioned how PR would try to shape his content after telling him that they are not trying to shape the content. Point is that this seems to be a never ending conflict (unfortunately).
At risk of coming off as an apologist (yet again), I have to say that I don't blame the PR for doing what they did with regards to holding back reviews. Its dumb, yes, since as Xav mentioned, he could just go out and buy a retail copy of the game and review it. But its PR's job to try and represent their company in the best light as possible, and if they feel that an outlet is prone to giving negative reviews for their games, then delay that potential negativity by holding back the review copies. I've often heard (and have been guilty of) responding to that with "then don't make crap if you want good reviews!". However upon realization, that's not the PR's fault. If the company makes crap, then its the PR's job to try and represent that crap in the best light as possible so it appears better than it is. I can't fathom how difficult it can be for them to try and represent a piece of crap in a good light.
To me, all that tweet did was spell out in writing what seems to commonly happen anyway. In this day and age with the amount of access to information we have, any metaphorical elephants in the many rooms that get spoken about, have to immediately get addressed, whether people are used to it or not. This isn't anything new, but now with information being readily accessible, ones that info is out, it's out.
I noticed that often for big games, reviews often appear at least a few days ahead of actual release date on many sites, where reviews are either done by early review copies, or being invited to a mass event to do it. For sites like Shacknews, I don't feel it matters because quite a few of the reviews come out after release dates anyway. But for quite a few other sites and magazines, there's always that scramble to get that review out as soon as the embargo is over. I feel this is what PR feels they are holding over the media with regards to review copies/blacklisting. I personally am a proponent of quality material, over the speed of which that material comes.
So its a tough spot. Both the media and the PR sides are both doing their jobs. When the developer/publisher makes a great game, then the media and PR can work harmoniously. But when the developer/publisher makes crap... that's when PR's job hurts the gamer more by holding back those early reviews if negative, but sadly the job comes first. I'm sure it pains them to know themselves that the game sucks, but at the end of the day they've still got a job to do.
Not to the same extent, but this is like a defense lawyer defending someone whom they know is guilty. Does the lawyer do their job and defend as best as they can, or blurt out in admission they know the truth? In both cases, one is the idealistic option with consequences, and the other the realistic option. Even more important if trying to maintain job security and supporting a family.