Feel Better, Steve

Publishing rumors about Steve Jobs' health is one of the most distasteful things I've done in a long time. Let me just get this off my chest.

Do not read on if you have a problem with foul language.

Professionally, I think we did what we were supposed to do, and let me be clear, I am proud of the work I did with Jesús Diaz on this series. But personally, I feel very different about the writing we did on Steve's health. I think this is a good example of the kind of cold investigating that makes everyday people hate journalists. And over the last two weeks, I've hated my job and sometimes, myself, too.

We received a lot of ill will for covering this topic. What's stupid is that most of these people still missed the point of why it is wrong. Other traditional journalists have complained to us about the techniques and styles that we've used to report these rumors. Investors have complained and threatened to sue because we've hurt the stock. Some of my own writers even had the nerve to suggest I did it for traffic alone, while others think that I shouldn't even be writing this post at all, because it's tacky. I would like to take this moment to tell these people to shut the fuck up and shove these reasons up your asses.

FUCK YOU APPLE INVESTORS WHO HAVE WRITTEN ME HATE MAIL. If you don't have the balls to hold the stock through some rumors you think are false, IGNORE THE RUMORS OR SELL THE STOCK!

FUCK YOU OTHER JOURNALISTS WHO WROTE ME HATE MAIL. Almost all of you who didn't like our sourcing are doing some really nasty backpedaling, and consulting the talking head witch doctors and analysts looking for data. There is no data there, you jerkoffs!

THESE STORIES ARE NOT ABOUT TRAFFIC! WE DON'T EVEN GET TRAFFIC BONUSES ANYMORE! Sure this post is tacky, I don't care. At this very moment, I am very self aware that I'm being a tacky, angry, crazy person. I just can't listen to another person miss the point of why it's shitty to cover Steve's health like we, the press, have.

Writing about a man's health, trying to figure out if he's dying or not by talking to third-party expert doctors, checking statistics for Whipple procedure survival rates and timelines, checking in with sources who know people who know people who have heard that he's dying—they're all basically indecent things to do.

I want to apologize to everyone who knows Steve, everyone who's known anyone who's been sick that's been covered in the press, and my parents, who are probably ashamed I'm tracking a man's health so rabidly at work, and raised me to be better than some journalist/vulture dickhead.

I'd like to apologize to Steve. I met him once, and, uh, I think he complimented me only to make a snipe at Engadget, but he was very nice while using me to smite his enemies. Don't get me wrong: I have to do my job as long as I work here. But when someone is nice to you, personally, it's a terrible thing to later write stories hypothesizing his death is imminent. The truth of his actual state of health really is impossible to divine, no matter how many talking head doctors I speak with or statistics I check. That's the difference between analysis and fact, which for some reason, a lot of people have no ability to separate. But this is not about the facts or the stock or the reporting or the truth. It's about the fucking sentiment and it's about manners and treating people well when they've been good to you. And Steve, like many other of the founders of this industry, has been very good to us.

When someone says they don't feel well, I think you're supposed to say "I hope you feel better." It's not just a formality.

Get this: I just got yelled at by a writer of mine who thinks that Steve is dying, and that it'll be a farce to send such wishes because it'll look terrible to say get better when there is no hope. I disagree. The entire point of saying it is to express hope. And if you don't have hope that sick people can get better, statistics and talking head doctor testimonial be damned, that's a severe shortcoming in human spirit. Even if you admit that someone may very well be dying, you don't have to say goodbye until they are actually gone. I think the writer here is a good person and a fine talent, but I don't think he understood my perspective and he hurt me when he misunderstood my intent.

Again, it's not just a formality to say I hope you feel better. The implicit message and subtext to express here is extremely important to me. It's about hope, and it's good will, and it's respect. Respect for a man who saved me from having to deal with Windows, and who has left a dent in the universe. I think that it also sends a message that that person who is sick is not facing the sickness alone—that there is at least one more person who has the same hope they do, and that is that somehow they get better. No matter how sick they are. If I were sick, no matter how dire, I would appreciate someone saying this to me.

Why is this so hard to understand?

Let me get to it.

Steve,
I know that our stories caused you and the people close to you terrible stress. I am sorry for this. I hope you kick the motherfucking shit out of whatever is making you sick, and you get better and come back in June strong as an ox and go on to do great things in a third act at Apple.

Brian Lam

P.S. I am also sorry for cursing so much and for writing such a tacky post. It happens.