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Barron’s Rumor From April on Jobs Moving to Memphis

Several readers sent this Barron’s Tech Trader Daily link to me when it was new, but I decided against linking to it because it was just so sketchily sourced. This rumor from April had Jobs moving to Tennessee for medical treatment — but for “pancreatic cancer”, not a liver transplant.

I’ve ignored a slew of Jobs-related rumors over the past year because of the sourcing. But tonight’s bombshell story in the WSJ is completely unsourced. I can’t recall anything like this before: a top news source (and in this case, the preeminent U.S. business news source) reporting an enormous scoop about an important figure without even a hint, nothing, about where the information came from.

The timing makes me think it was a leak from Apple. But the complete and utter lack of sourcing makes me wonder if the leak came from someone legally obligated not to reveal Jobs’s private medical information. And if the Journal knows that Jobs had a liver transplant, why don’t they know which hospital performed it? From the Journal report:

Three hospitals in Tennessee — Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center in Memphis, Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville and Methodist University Hospital in Memphis — are designated as liver-transplant centers, according to UNOS. A spokeswoman for Le Bonheur said the hospital doesn’t perform liver transplants in adults. A Vanderbilt spokesman said it didn’t treat Mr. Jobs. A spokeswoman for Methodist University said Mr. Jobs isn’t listed as a patient there.

Reading between the lines, if he had a liver transplant in Tennessee, it must have been at one of these three hospitals. Two flatly deny it, but the third, Methodist University, simply told them he “isn’t listed as a patient” — present tense, not past tense. So it must have been there. But why can’t the Journal state that as fact as well?

This story is very weird. It’ll be interesting to see how, or if, other publications will pick up this story.

Saturday, 20 June 2009