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Why Apple's board stands behind Jobs

If what the company's former CFO says is accurate, Apple is covering up for its rock star CEO. But it will take much more than that to shake the board's support.

Apple's board knows a good thing when it sees it.

The brief but strong statement it issued this afternoon in defense of Steve Jobs left no doubt about the depth of the board's support for its CEO.

But how about a reality check, folks?

Did anyone really believe Apple would mess with its main meal ticket? A few minutes after the board statement hit the wire, the company announced its latest earnings report--and it was a dazzler: profit soared 88 percent on a 21 percent sales climb. Those are the sort of numbers that buy lifetime job security. The old-timers at the company remember the prolonged time of troubles (pre-Jobs) endured under a succession of increasingly feckless CEOs. Suffice it to say that Jobs would need to get caught on video robbing every gold brick in Fort Knox in broad daylight before this board would lift a finger.

So far, Jobs remains untouched by the investigation into Apple's stock options backdating scandal. This story--for now--stops at the desks of former CFO Fred Anderson who just paid $3.5 million to settle with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the company's ex-chief legal counsel Nancy Heinen, who is defending herself against fraud charges filed by the SEC.

What next? Anderson is hinting at a cover-up. He claims to have informed Jobs of the accounting implications of options backdating back in January 2001. Apple has maintained that Jobs was kept in the dark. But if the feds decide to start taking depositions, the ignorance-is-bliss defense won't hold up. And then we may learn whether all these striving, corporate alpha execs have faulty memories or somebody is a fibber.