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Update: Boy Genius Report has updated its post, most importantly saying that BGR’s original post this morning misattributed words written by “Tom” as written by Steve Jobs, including the dubious “Retire, relax, enjoy your family. It is just a phone.” This makes a lot more sense.

A widely-published email exchange allegedly between an upset iPhone owner and Apple CEO Steve Jobs is, according to Apple’s PR department, a fabrication. The denial is notable because Apple hasn’t denied the authenticity of several other emails supposedly sent by Jobs in recent weeks.

The gossip-about-the-gossip is complicated. If the most likely rumors are true, the Boy Genius Report blog paid for a batch of emails from Jobs that have turned out to be forgeries.

The story began this morning when Boy Genius Report posted “Exclusive: Conversation with Steve Jobs on the iPhone 4 antenna problems.” The post contained a supposed set of back-and-forth emails between a man named “Tom” and Jobs. Tom complained that his new iPhone 4 would not connect to its local AT&T wireless network when held normally. He cited a supposedly leaked Apple internal document that claimed holding different model iPhones in certain ways would severely hamper its operation, because the human hand stifled wireless radio transmissions going to and from the phone’s built-in antennas hidden in their external casing.

Jobs, in the alleged exchange, told Tom to “calm down, it’s just a phone … retire, relax, enjoy your family.” His statements seemed one step beyond his recent exchange with Valleywag editor Ryan Tate, in which Jobs asked Tate, “Why are you so bitter over a technical issue,” and, “what have you done that’s so great? Do you create anything, or just criticize others’ work and belittle their motivations?”

Apple has never questioned the authenticity of Tate’s exchange with Jobs, nor of several other recent conversations posted to the Internet. But late today, Fortune writer Philip Elmer-DeWitt, who has covered Apple since the 1980s, posted that “a top Apple spokesman emphatically denied” the exchange posted by Boy Genius Report.

Separately, the AppleInsider blog reported that a Virginia man had tried to get them to buy an email exchange with Jobs that is likely the one on Boy Genius Report. It’s not uncommon for news outlets to pay for stories, nor do many consider it unethical. Yet many readers obviously don’t approve of the practice.

[Another update: Boy Genius Report has now identified the “Tom” in he article as Jason Burford of Virginia and in its second update to the story it has included a full email thread with email header and screen shots of the actual emails that appear to come from Steve Jobs’ email account. It looks like Apple’s denial is overly broad. Jobs didn’t write some of what was attributed to him through an editing error, but he probably wrote the rest.]

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