A few years ago, Marketplace radio reported on the sub-industry of top ten lists, specifically the lists intended to be used as gift guides. Marketing companies drool over these lists, since placement on them can mean a tremendous boost in sales, and they're anxious to do whatever it takes to get on the list. For example, The Da Vinci Code was a relatively unknown title until the American Booksellers Assocation placed it on their own "best picks" list.
In the story, c|net comes off looking good, standing their ethical ground against marketers looking for an endorsement. The Today Show doesn't fare as well.