There are some days when I really, really, really wish I were still writing Fake Steve, and friends, this is one of them. In case you haven’t heard, Bloomberg accidentally ran Steve Jobs’s obituary today, and then retracted it. Luckily, Gawker decided to humiliate Bloomberg by publishing the entire obit, including the list of people that Bloombots should call if/when Dear Leader actually does die, which I’m still not sure he ever will, because as far as I can recall from all that Greek and Latin I took in high school a man-god born of Zeus and mortal woman should be an immortal being, and furthermore, how would Apple PR handle it? I suppose for a while they could just stonewall by saying they weren’t here today to talk about Steve, they were here to talk about how excited everyone is about [FILL IN NAME OF NEW PRODUCT HERE] and maybe they could buy themselves a year or two during which the Apple faithful would continue to believe Steve was really alive despite having seen reports to the contrary on the news. But eventually people would start to notice that they hadn’t seen Steve around for a while, and they might even start to doubt Apple’s line about Steve missing Macworld because he was stuck in traffic. And then what happens? It makes me shiver to think about it. For this reason alone, this cannot happen. Steve Jobs cannot die.
Try telling that to the filthy hacks, however. Gawker goes out of its way to point out that “news organizations routinely prepare obituaries in advance,” but I still think Bloomberg’s gaffe is significant. Clearly they were refreshing Jobs’s obituary, and from this I would infer that perhaps their editors were, um, not so utterly convinced by Steve’s recent off-the-record conversation with Joe Nocera in the Times. Or maybe it was those very strong “Steve’s health is a personal issue. Steve’s health is a personal issue. Steve’s health is a personal issue” statements from Apple PR. Yeah. Those went a long way toward putting everyone at ease.
Guess what? Bloomberg ain’t the only ones who are getting antsy. Back when Steve appeared onstage looking like crap and the whole “Is he sick?” thing began, one of my fellow filthy hacks, a guy who works at a very top-drawer news organization, got the word from his editors back in New York to start writing the Jobs obit and make sure he had it banked and ready to go. I told him it was pointless because Steve was fine and this whole “thin” thing was an optical illusion. I even showed him the hundreds of emails and blog comments I’d received from readers who don’t know Steve and don’t even know anyone who knows anyone who knows Steve but who were nonetheless absolutely sure that Steve was fine and were just furious that the press was making such a big deal of it since the whole thing was so obviously a load of crap. Didn’t work. The hack still wrote the obit. Though, to his credit, he has so far managed not to publish it.
Great work, Bloomberg. You dopes.