Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Memo to All Crepe-Hangers: It Still Ain't Nobody's Business If Jobs Is or Isn’t

Now, it’s getting flat-out macabre.

That would be the continuing swirl of attention the health of Apple icon Steve Jobs has been getting.

Rumors of his impending demise have been popping up periodically since the too-thin crisis of the Worldwide Developers Conference in June and look like they won’t stop until it actually comes true.

My grandmother used to have a perfect rejoinder for this kind of funeral-chasing behavior, which was prevalent among her gang of Italian sisters, who–whenever anyone caught a cold–predicted the worst outcome: “Don’t be a crepe-hanger.”

This time, more rumors surfaced yesterday in Gizmodo, curiously, a week before the Macworld at which he is famously not appearing. The site used a single–yes, that’s right–source saying his illness and not Apple’s business troubles with the conference’s organizer, IDG, was the reason for his pull-out.

The rumor, of course, sent Apple (AAPL) shares into a tailspin for the day, before others–such as CNBC’s Jim Goldman–posted just-as-strong refutations of the Jobs-Is-On-His-Last-Legs stories.

Blogger Robert Scoble even talked to a worker at a yogurt store that Jobs frequents and got a health report (good!).

Oh, dear–yogurt workers as medical experts? What’s next? Brain surgery consultation from the Starbucks barista? This is what we’ve descended to?

It has to stop, because the fact of the matter is that Jobs’s health is still nobody’s business, as it has not been throughout this bizarre obsession with one man’s personal issues.

In a post in late July, the last time this issue surged, I wrote:

And after listening to all of the debate about it–mostly indignant declarations by the media, making their case mostly by wheedling milder indignant declarations from stock analysts and corporate tsk-tsk outfits–I have concluded that what is ailing Jobs is exactly no one’s business.

Even if his every breath is critical to the ongoing operations of Apple, the reason most use as their main argument for Jobs to tell all, it goes double.


Well, any Apple investor has to know by now that Jobs suffered from a rather serious bout with a curable version of pancreatic cancer some years ago and that recovery includes inevitable complications.”

And, indeed, the only decent argument you can make to focus so intently on Jobs’s health of any relevance is the impact on Apple company stock, which is self-righteously trotted out each time these specious reports emerge.

The thing is, a lot of companies have been run by execs with health issues (and countries too–VP Dick Cheney’s ticker has been misfiring for a long time now, for example, and he still seems to have been running the show with a verve we wish he perhaps did not have so much of now).

But, to be fair, I will acknowledge the issue. But if anyone does not get that Apple’s CEO has health issues by now, they are ignorant in the extreme. The situation should be baked into the stock price.

In addition, Apple is run by a lot of other competent people besides Jobs and they too are part of its success. Here’s a news flash–Steve Jobs does not conceive, manufacture and wrap every iPhone and iPod.

That is the kind of mythology that has, of course, been propagated a lot by Apple and it is–like a lot of things–a bit true in a bigger concept.

But, as I recently said, when Jobs inevitably leaves the company, probably on his own two feet in retirement, the Cupertino HQ will not suddenly be taken up to the skies as if it were the rapture.

Maybe the yogurt shop guy knows about when that’s going to happen.

Speaking of rapture, here’s singer Jill Sobule singing about that at a recent D: All Things Digital conference.

And, in a second video, she sings perfectly about how we should behave when it comes to what is inevitable for us all. People riveted by Jobs’s fate might do well to take her sage advice.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald