'Fake Steve Jobs' attacks CNBC in on-air tirade

Dan Lyons, <i>Newsweek</i> columnist and former Fake Steve Jobs blogger, goes on a rant about the network's handling of reports on the Apple CEO's health.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
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Clarification at 7:02 a.m. PST: This article originally noted Silicon Alley Insider's report that Dan Lyons has been banned from CNBC. A CNBC representative disputes that assertion.

Newsweek columnist Dan Lyons, whose anonymous "Fake Steve Jobs" satire blog took the tech world by storm in 2007 went on a blunt rant on cable network CNBC that questioned its journalistic tactics--but contrary to a blog report, CNBC says he has not been banned from appearing on the network.

Lyons was facing off against CNBC's Silicon Valley bureau chief, Jim Goldman, in a segment about the sudden news on Wednesday afternoon that Apple CEO Steve Jobs would be taking a medical leave of absence following conflicting rumors and reports about his health.

Here's what happened: Gizmodo, a well-established gadget blog owned by Gawker Media, had reported that Jobs' health was "declining rapidly" and that his medical state was the reason that he would not be giving his traditional keynote address at the Macworld Expo. Goldman quickly shot down the rumor, citing sources; Jobs underwent treatment for pancreatic cancer in the past, but Apple had repeatedly insisted that he was now healthy.

Days later, Jobs said he had been diagnosed with a "hormone imbalance," implying that it was the reason he stepped down from the Macworld appearance. Goldman had been wrong. Then, on Wednesday, Jobs announced that he was taking the aforementioned leave of absence and that Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook would handle management in the interim.

"You can try to backpedal and say that what you reported was true," Lyons said to Goldman on CNBC, adding that the broadcast journalist had been "played" and "punked" by his sources at Apple, "but look, you should apologize to Gizmodo for having criticized them and apologize to your viewers for having gotten it so wrong."

He also took a direct dig at the credibility of CNBC, asking, "Why have a bureau out in Silicon Valley?"

Silicon Alley Insider later reported that Lyons had been banned from the cable network for life. CNBC spokesman Kevin Goldman told CNET News that this is not true and that Lyons has not been banned from the network.

Lyons, while an editor at Forbes, started the anonymous "Secret Diary of Steve Jobs" blog and continued writing it, even after he was outed as the author. He spun the blog off into a book, Options, and later left Forbes for Newsweek. Around the time he made his job switch, he stopped writing as "Fake Steve."

An additional correction was made at 8:40 a.m. PT. Dan Lyons used to be an editor at Forbes, not Fortune.