First Thorpie was in rehab as a drunk. Except he wasn’t. In fact, he had shoulder surgery, we were told. He left hospital and was fine. Then he wasn’t. He was spotted by a nosy cameraman appearing “disoriented” outside his house. Now he’s really in rehab, though for depression rather than alcohol abuse.

Each moment — true or false — was splashed on the front page and led TV news bulletins. The ABC’s venerable AM program led with Ian Thorpe’s struggle this morning.

Even depression support service beyondblue couldn’t help itself. A statement from CEO Kate Carnell began: “If these reports are correct …”

If the reports are correct? It’s still nobody’s business. And you’d think the country’s peak depression body would know better than to riff off media reports that have proven themselves unreliable at best. Carnell goes on:

“I know that in the past Ian’s story has inspired other people to take action to get treatment for their own battles, and I hope this morning’s reports have the same effect.”

Certainly, that will be the justification of editors who will insist on documenting every moment. Perhaps it will inspire others who are unwell. Or perhaps it will just sell a newspaper.