Recently I wrote about how the scoop about Steve’s surgery had leaked out in the Times under the byline of John Markoff (my original post is here) and I suggested that Apple PR had arranged for the info to leak to Markoff because he’s one of the few journos they consider friendly to Apple. I also wrote that “there’s a reason this story leaked out in the Times and under Markoff’s byline, and it isn’t because he’s such a dogged, hard-nosed investigative reporter who’s breaking down doors to get at the truth. Ahem.”
Turns out, in fact, that Markoff worked his ass off to get that scoop. The guy has been covering the Valley longer than almost anyone else in the business, and he’s deeply sourced and highly trusted, having earned a reputation for being a straight-shooter with extremely high standards of integrity and honesty. A source close to Markoff with intimate knowledge of the situation (no, not Markoff himself) called me yesterday to non-comment on the matter and to express personal outrage at what Times reporters perceived as an insult. My anonymous source insists that Apple did not just hand that scoop to the Times on a platter, and that Markoff was working his sources like mad trying to find out what was wrong with Dear Leader, and that this is how he got the info about Steve having surgery earlier this year. The source concedes that it’s impossible to tell whether Apple PR was acting behind the scenes to push out that leaked information through middle-men. Nevertheless, the fact is that Markoff (and his colleagues) were working their asses off to get the information, and Timespeople resented being portrayed as lazy hacks who sit around waiting for companies to feed them information and who serve as court stenographers for Valley companies — when in fact they are dogged journalists in passionate pursuit of the truth.
I’ve met John Markoff, and I have the highest respect for him. I regret making this mistake.