[Originally posted January 18, 2009 on Fortune.com.]
He was a Titan who stole fire from the gods and gave to mankind the tool that allowed mortals to rise above the beasts. For his sins, Jupiter had him chained to a rock on Mount Caucasus. Every day a vulture feasted on his liver, which grew back overnight.
Steve Jobs, who announced on Wednesday that he is taking a medical leave to focus on his health, must feel something like poor Prometheus, chained to his rock in the hills above Palo Alto. The vultures this week are an ever-expanding team of reporters from Bloomberg News -- and whoever is feeding them medical updates.
On Thursday, Bloomberg reporters Connie Guglielmo, Rochelle Garner and Jason Gale wrote that Jobs could be facing surgery to remove what's left of his pancreas, quoting a doctor in Australia who hasn’t treated Jobs and doesn’t know details of his condition. (link)
On Friday, Guglielmo, joined this time by John Lauerman and Dina Bass, reported that Jobs is considering a liver transplant. This time they cite "people who are monitoring his illness" and quote a doctor in Savannah, Georgia, who hasn’t treated Jobs and doesn’t know details of his condition. (link)
Not content to feed on his liver, team Bloomberg called Apple's (AAPL) CEO and somehow managed to get through. They wrote:
"In a telephone interview today, Jobs said he won’t comment further on his health.
'Why don’t you guys leave me alone -- why is this important?' Jobs said." (link)
Asked to explain how she could say what medical procedures Jobs was or wasn't considering, Guglielmo referred us to a publicist, who would say only that Bloomberg News stands by its story.
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Image Photoshopped with apologies to Elsie Russell.
[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]