Insert clickbait Angelina Jolie headline here: Breasts! Ovaries! Revelations!

When Angelina Jolie published her brave and beautifully written NYT op-ed, it appeared clearly under her own name, in the first person. Naturally, Angelina Jolie being Angelina Jolie, an enormous amount of secondary media followed. Some of it was commentary, and some of it, from places like People, was further reporting — not about the important breast cancer aspect of the story, but rather about Jolie herself.

People naturally put Jolie on its cover, and in the course of its reporting discovered a new piece of information:

“She is doing well,” a source tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story.
But her medical odyssey is not done. The mother of six is also planning to undergo surgery to remove her ovaries.

It’s not at all clear where People obtained this piece of information, which isn’t even attributed to “a source.” It may be true; it may not. I have no idea. But look how People’s scooplet is being reported elsewhere:

No, Cosmopolitan, Angelina Jolie did not say, “I’m removing my ovaries.” No, Business Insider, there’s no evidence that Angelina Jolie has “revealed” anything at all about removing them.

The news about Jolie’s double mastectomy came directly from Jolie herself, and was delivered in a carefully considered format. This does not mean that all bits of random gossip about possible future surgeries are coming from Jolie, or that she has chosen to talk about such things in public at all.

Maybe this is just part of being a public figure: You can’t make some parts of your life public without everybody thinking that all of your life is now being made deliberately public. But it does seem to me that both Cosmo and BI are basically lying in their headlines.

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