Why does the media let Steve Jobs hide his health?
Yesterday, there was a report saying that Steve Jobs had a severe heart attack and had been taken to an emergency room. Let Reuters pick it up from there:
The report claimed Jobs was rushed to the emergency room after suffering “a major heart attack.”
Asked for further details about the status of Jobs’ health, Dowling repeated: “The story is not true.”
Let me ask you this. If you were a normal, sane CEO, and your stock price was tumbling anyway mostly due to the financial crisis, and you know that rumors of anything life-threatening to you will make it nosedive, and you were getting ready for a day in the office when such a rumor hits, don’t you think you’d let your PR person say something like “It’s not true, he’s coming to work today?” Maybe even wave at anybody carrying a TV camera when you get there?
Based on what Apple said, all we know is that Jobs didn’t go to an ER for a major heart attack. Well, maybe it was a minor heart attack. Maybe he didn’t go to the ER but got rushed straight to an ICU. Maybe he went to the hospital for some other reasons. Maybe he was doing fine and having whatever Californian CEOs have for breakfast at the time. Any of the above could be true based on what little Apple said.
We’ve all seen TV crews positioned outside offices and people’s home for far less reason than this. We’ve seen public relations people grilled for far less than this. How come nobody wants a little more info on this one?
Really, we’re not asking for his proctologist’s report with photos, just say he’s OK. How much more effort does that take from Apple’s PR? How much more effort would it take to ask, “Well, where is he now?”
Instead, the typical story on this proclaims “The rumor is false,” and then procedes to pile on CNN for having a place where evil people can manipulate stock prices by posting false news. While that may end up being the case, there’s some other possible explanations to this. As mentioned above, the details might be wrong, but the overall story true (it’s not like Apple’s stock price would go up if Jobs only had a stroke instead of a heart attack). Maybe somebody saw somebody who looked like Jobs in an ER room and jumped to the wrong conclusion. Maybe some subsentient jackass thought this was a great prank.
If you want some real information about the perpetrators and how kosher they’re likely to be , you can go here and maybe find out about the 4chan group here, but then you will have done more work than 99.9% of the people writing news stories about this.
Look, for better or for worse, Apple’s financial standing in the world is deeply entwined into the personal health and well-being of Mr. Steve Jobs, and Mr. Jobs had plenty to do with that. That makes his health the business of Apple’s shareholders, no matter how much Mr. Jobs says it’s none of anybody’s business. Imagine John McCain or Barack Obama saying, “I’m not telling you squat about my health, American people, it’s my business, not yours.” Imagine either of them doing just that if he were perfectly healthy.
What’s sad about this story is that you couldn’t imagine McCain or Obama hiding good health from the American people, but you could imagine Jobs doing that. What’s even sadder is that the media would never let McCain or Obama hide their health, but they seem quite willing to let Jobs hide his, good, bad or indifferent.