updated 10:15 am EDT, Sat October 4, 2008
SEC Looks at False Claim
The SEC said on Friday that it would investigate a false claim made earlier in the day that Apple chief Steve Jobs had suffered a heart attack. The hunt is prompted after the reportedly inaccurate assertion, made on CNN's iReport citizen journalism site, triggered a panic sell-off in the stock market and ultimately contributed to Apple's stock trading at a new 52-week low. Company shares ended the day at $97.07 and reached below $100 for the first time since May 2007, or just before the release of the original iPhone.
CNN isn't believed to be the direct target of the SEC. The news outlet's iReport section is disclaimed as unfiltered and potentially inaccurate, and so not to be taken as representative of CNN's official position. The company is known to have pulled the story and disabled the account of the contributor shortly after the inaccurate post's effect on Apple shares became clear.
Apple itself maintained that the report is "not true," according to company spokesman Steve Dowling, who reported Jobs being in good health soon after the iReport story appeared.
The Mac producer has nonetheless drawn criticism for its insistence that Jobs' health is a "private matter" and for failing to outline a direct succession plan should Jobs' health or career decisions remove him from the key company position. It was not until an off-record newspaper conversation that Jobs revealed that his unusually thin look at this year's WWDC keynote, which itself resulted in a gradual decline of Apple share value, was triggered by nutritional problems.