Bad news from Steve Jobs

The Apple CEO announces he's taking a six-month medical leave, urges his employees "to focus on delivering extraordinary products"

Published January 14, 2009 10:22PM (EST)

Exhibit A in macabre consumerism:

On Wednesday Apple released an e-mail sent by Steve Jobs to all Apple employees announcing the sad news that the CEO was taking a "medical leave of absence" until June.

The tone of the letter was ominous: "...during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought." (Previously Jobs had only revealed a "hormone imbalance" that he said had caused him rapid weight loss.)

The part that enters the realm of bizarro-PR-speak comes in the next paragraph. (Italics mine).

"In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June."

No single executive in modern times is as closely associated with the extraordinariness of a company's products as is Steve Jobs. The news of his illness is distressing on multiple levels. But that single sentence attempting to spin his absence as a positive gesture allowing everyone else to focus on the next iteration of the iPhone or iPod is a misguided attempt to control the media interpretation of what this all means for Apple.

It's unnecessary. This is no time for corporate spin.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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