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Steve Jobs's Health Is A Private Matter Now

I couldn't disagree more with this New York Times blog post demanding that Apple and Steve Jobs come clean about his health. By taking a leave of absence as CEO, Jobs has made his health a private matter.
I couldn't disagree more with this New York Times blog post demanding that Apple and Steve Jobs come clean about his health. By taking a leave of absence as CEO, Jobs has made his health a private matter.Times reporter Joe Nocera (whom Jobs famously called a "slime bucket" last summer), writes:


There are certain people who simply don't have the same privacy rights as others, whether they like it or not. Presidents. Celebrities. Sports figures. And, at least in terms of his health, Steve Jobs. His health has become a material fact for Apple shareholders. His vagueness about his health, his dissembling, his constantly changing story line -- it is simply not an appropriate way to act when you are the most important person at one of the most high-profile companies in America. On the contrary: it is infuriating.

Enough is enough. If Apple refuses to talk more openly about Mr. Jobs's health, it will continue to be "a distraction," as he himself put it in his e-mail message to employees. The time has come for Apple's board to take control of this subject from Mr. Jobs and do the right thing by the company's investors. Tell us, once and for all, what is going on with Mr. Jobs's health. Put the subject to rest. End the constant rumor-mongering. And then get back to the business of making the coolest products on earth.

There's nothing that Apple can do or say that will put the rumor-mongering to rest. Jobs is, at this point, the Elvis of the computing world; even after he's dead and buried (and let's hope that doesn't happen for many decades!) there will be people who are convinced he faked his death.

Apple and Jobs already have done the right thing by investors, when Jobs stepped aside.

Nocera says, "There are certain people who simply don't have the same privacy rights as others, whether they like it or not. Presidents. Celebrities. Sports figures." That's just nonsense. Presidents certainly don't have the same privacy rights; they control the nuclear codes that could kill us all. But celebrities and sports figures? The public interest is certainly not served by the endless gossip-mongering about celebrities' and athletes' sex lives and criminal records. Anybody who claims otherwise, and uses the phrase "role model," should be beaten with a rolled-up copy of People magazine.

Certainly, free speech permits journalists and bloggers to write about celebrities' private lives. Indeed, it's our job to do so (although the country would probably be better off if we didn't do quite so much of it, and instead focused more attention on news that actually matters). But the celebrities are under no obligation to cooperate.

When Steve Jobs stepped aside yesterday, he gained the right to tell busybodies to buzz off when they wanted to pry into his medical condition. He became a celebrity. Until he returns to pick up the reins at Apple once again, he'll stay that way.