Slapfight over the Steve's health status

steve_jobsSo Giz posted earlier saying that the real reason for the MacWorld pullout was that Steve’s health is declining. We didn’t report it because we’re not rumor-mongering, bloodthirsty vultures, but it made a splash anyway. Now CNBC columnist Jim Goldman is calling the post “unsourced garbage” and a “fiasco” that is “nuking” Apple’s shares to the tune of about 32 cents as of this writing. Am I the only one who thinks this should be settled with a slapfight?

Personally, I find it slightly repulsive that the industry is banking one way or the other on a man’s personal health problems (past or possibly present). But not really repulsive — more like “unfortunate” — for two reasons:

First, this isn’t Enquirer-style peeping into a private life. Steve Jobs is, if you’ll pardon the mac fanboy-sounding expression, more than a man. I don’t mean he is superhuman (a common misconception), but he is the face and one of the driving forces behind one of the most powerful tech companies in the world, and knows it. An Apple without Steve is not the same company for many people, and to be honest I wouldn’t blame them for cashing in when they hear he’s hitting the dusty trail.

Second, as for the rumor itself, it is neither new nor unsubstantiated. The man did have serious health problems before, and when he appeared gaunt last year the same speculations were aired.

Both stories credit sources inside Apple, and since the stories they present are mutually exclusive, it’s up to you to decide what you think, or if you even care. I’d say the Gizmodo side has more weight as it provides a better explanation for what’s going on. What’s CNBC’s explanation for the sudden about-face? Oh, they don’t have one. Apparently they are content with Apple spin saying everything is dandy.

Sadly for Steve and his family, the health of Apple’s CEO has passed over the last few years from a private matter to, if we’re honest, a shareholder issue, given his effect on the company. It may be less than sensitive to report on such things, but we’re not the Care Bear News Network, we’re tech journalists. We don’t get personal, we get exclusives.