Part of the ongoing tension between Rupert Murdoch and his number two at News Corp., Peter Chernin, is that if there were evident signs of Murdoch’s failing health, Chernin would instantly be maneuvering with the board to stage a palace coup (which is why Murdoch so avidly guzzles his health drinks).
Steve Jobs, even more a Sun God—magical, temperamental, weird, frightening—than Murdoch, has nobody in his company, or world, to advise him, or challenge him, or balance him.
Reality doesn’t touch him. It is obviously not just a problem of physical heath, but of mental health, too. An obviously sick man, probably a mortally sick man, has been insisting on his own immortality—that’s nuts. The fact that most people have been willing to take him at his word has been as nutty.
Lesson No. 1: People in public life tell egregious, fabulous, absolutely obvious lies. A particularly Bush-era lesson.
Lesson No. 2: Sheep-like people everywhere don’t call them on it.
Steve Job’s health has not been a mystery. Last March, Fortune wrote a detailed piece about how, when his pancreatic cancer was first diagnosed in 2003, he hid it from the public—and forced his
executives and lawyers to hide it, too—while he treated himself with voodoo remedies. Not too long after the Fortune piece, Jobs appeared in public in his current skeletal condition, explaining it as just a “bug.”
Joe Nocera, who has been writing about Apple for a long time, says yesterday on the Times site (and in this morning's paper), “It is really hard to write about Steve Jobs and his heath problems.” That’s got to be among the most pathetic statements ever uttered by a reporter. It’s really hard to write about what’s in front of your nose. It’s really hard to write about the emperor having no clothes.
Lesson No. 3: You can beat the media into submission. Steve Jobs has been lambasting and threatening people in the media for his entire career, and it's worked.
But even more amazing—because there are people’s stock options at stake—is the failure of anyone at Apple to have faced reality. There’s something radically wrong with these people that they can’t
even look out for themselves. Indeed, the logical answer to what happens at Apple without Jobs is that it dies. What you have, demonstrably, is a company without any managerial wherewithal beyond Jobs; these are Stockholm syndrome people. The big guy is dying and his crew is ready to go with him (taking the shareholders' money along).
So, any chance that Peter Chernin might have an interest in running a failing computer company?