At what point does pushing unfounded speculation regarding Steve Jobs' health become a crime?
Jesus Diaz becomes the impetus for the second Apple stock dump in recent memory by pushing yet another story about Steve Jobs' (alleged) failing health based on the word of an "anonymous source" with a "reliable" track record.
The first rumor turned out to be a hoax, perpetuated by a teenaged (sigh) citizen journalist on CNN's iReport website.
Unfortunately, said hoax spurred widespread panic amongst Apple investors and sent stock tumbling as much as 5.4% before the following "breaking news" was revealed to be a prank:
"Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER just a few hours ago after suffering a major heart attack. I have an insider who tells me that paramedics were called after Steve claimed to be suffering from severe chest pains and shortness of breath. My source has opted to remain anonymous, but he is quite reliable. I haven't seen anything about this anywhere else yet, and as of right now, I have no further information, so I thought this would be a good place to start. If anyone else has more information, please share it." SOURCE
(CNN boldly continues to market iReport as "unedited, unfiltered, news" despite the damage done.)
Enter Gizmodo and Jesus Diaz:
According to a previously reliable source, Apple misrepresented the reasons behind Macworld and Jobs' keynote cancellation. Allegedly, the real cause is his rapidly declining health. In fact, it may be even worse than we imagined:
Steves health is rapidly declining. Apple is choosing to remove the hype factor strategically vs letting the hype destroy apple when the inevitable news comes later this spring. SOURCE
And yet again, Apple stock takes a hit:
The blog reports a serious decline in Steve Jobs' health as the real reason for his decision to pull out of the Macworld tradeshow keynote address, and the stock tanks. Apple shares [AAPL 85.87 -0.74 (-0.85%)] had spent the day in the green before these headlines hit the tape, and then promptly turned red. SOURCE
While Jim Goldman [of previous link fame] does his valiant best to assure investors that nothing has changed ("I will say again: if Apple is lying, holding some truth back, manipulating its own stock by manipulating the truth, someone — indeed a lot of people — could be going to jail.") Jesus Diaz of Gizmodo has already earned the page-views he set out to earn by posting an unfounded rumor the likes of which anyone paying even the slightest amount of attention to Apple-related news over the past few months should know would have serious consequences.
With all that said, if - as seems likely - this particular bit of speculation turns out to be incorrect, Jesus Diaz should be fired, and his "reliable" source should be outed and then summarily blacklisted.
Sadly, it gets worse:
This source has repeatedly been 100% correct before. Those times, however, were always related to news and images of unreleased Apple products. I can only hope that, in this more personal matter, it is absolutely wrong. And that if he is not, that sentence just means that Steve Jobs is retiring according to his plan.
The link has been left intact because (as with most of the links sprinkled throughout the article) Diaz is linking back to one of his own prior articles about Steve Jobs. Whereas the link in the current article is presented as a statement of fact ("Steve Jobs is" doing something, not "Steve Jobs seems to be" doing something) the linked article is simply more of the same worthless, unsourced, unproven-to-this-day, speculation that Diaz is building his reputation on.
The headline of the linked article doesn't even pretend otherwise:
"Is Steve Jobs Preparing His Farewell?"
Maybe. But don't hope to find out via a Justin Diaz scoop, because he doesn't have a clue. At this rate, Diaz's continued speculation about Steve Jobs will be "proven" accurate on the day Jobs dies of old age.
Point being, Diaz pulls an extremely douchey (yet somehow impressive) move by trying to back up current sketchy speculation with his own past sketchy speculation while simultaneously attempting to bolster said prior guess with said current mess?
"It's true, because it fits with something else I was told is true, and you know that is true, because it, in turn, fits with what I'm now told is true."
Well played, sir?
No, wait. You're destroying the credibility of internet-based journalism. Stop doing that.
One last point:
If, indeed, Jobs were direly ill, and Apple is on the brink of losing a visionary leader, why on earth would the decision be made to pull out of what is arguably the single biggest annual event in the history of Apple events, just prior to a time when they will need mind-share and loyalty more than ever?
Perhaps because there's no reason to believe that Jobs' health has anything at all to do with the decision to kiss Macworld goodbye.
Jesus Diaz did not comment on this story after being contacted.