A lordling of Silicon Valley, whom bloggers trust but don't dare name, surfaced to dismiss the notion that Steve Jobs, the ailing Apple CEO, was at Stanford Hospital for surgery Monday. Should we believe him?

On Monday, Valleywag relayed some gossip from a party Sunday night: The hospital was making special preparations to admit Jobs, who recently began a six-month medical leave from Apple for surgery the next morning. This statement came from a Stanford staffer who had no apparent reason to lie in front of a dozen people.

Later that day,several media outlets received a similar set of denials from an anonymous source. The common thread: Jobs, their source told them, was in meetings at Apple Monday.

  • Silicon Alley Insider:
  • A Valley source tells us this is wrong. "He was in Apple meetings today, as a matter of fact. Valleywag is 100 percent wrong."

  • TechCrunch:
  • Our own source, who is significantly more believable than some person at some party, says Jobs is in the office today in meetings and most definitely not undergoing surgery.

  • And writers at Gizmodo, Time, and the New York Times all received statements almost identical in wording to the one received by Silicon Alley insider.

Did all these publications just coincidentally receive the same denial from different sources? Or was some senior Silicon Valley executive close to Jobs deliberately working to throw cold water on the rumor? Is it really impossible, as he seems to argue, that Jobs underwent surgery first thing Monday morning and attended meetings later that day? (One hospital describes exploratory surgery for pancreatic conditions like the one Jobs has as something that can be done without an overnight stay.) And why is this source afraid to drop Valleywag a line directly?

Jobs and Apple have offered so many misleading disclosures about the status of his health that we're left with party gossip and shadowy Valley execs as our best source of information. Meanwhile, no one's asking the most important question.

Namely, if Jobs is on a six-month medical leave, with COO Tim Cook running Apple in his absence, why is he going to meetings on campus? Is his "leave" just another Jobsian obfuscation?

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