As many of you know, I'm a fan of Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham. He makes a difficult job look easy, and is cruising easily to a second term. He's also considering a bold move that bucks the odds - running for Governor when Rendell steps down. Whether you're Democrat or Republican, it's hard to deny that electing a Bethlehemite would be a boon for the often ignored Lehigh Valley.
When Don's camp sent me a news analysis concluding he "will be a very serious challenger for the Democratic nomination," I was only too happy to post a blog about it. The source cited is a subscription only political newsletter called The Pennsylvania Report. In the email from Team Cunningham, I was told I was getting the "entire piece." They even included Pa. Report's banner, which made me feel very special.
I was a little puzzled that an "insider" newsletter would only compare Cunningham to Jack Wagner. I'm an Auslander, but I know that Allegheny County Exec Dan Onorato is a leading contender. He's even visited the Lehigh Valley to listen to crickets at a Joe Long Meet 'n Greet. Philly gazillionaire Tom Knox is never mentioned either.
Morning Call poliblogger John Micek, who really is an insider, teed off on Pa. Report. "[I]t's massively weird that the Report would go through all the trouble of handicapping the Democratic field and not make any mention of Onorato or Knox. That's kind of like writing a history of World War II and starting with VE-Day."
Micek and I were both scammed.
What the Cunningham camp calls the "entire piece" is actually a modified version of the story. All references to Onorato and Republican Pat Meehan are eliminated. Because Pa. Report is subscriber only, there was no way for me to check if the story sent to me is what appears in the newsletter. Turns out it's not.
While I was blissfully ignorant at a Northwestern Little League baseball game against some fierce sluggers from Lower Nazareth, Micek was astute enough to exchange emails with Pennsylvania Report's Jeremy Adlon, and learned that Cunningham's advisers had pulled the old switcheroo with the text of a news analysis. He has posted the real account, which you can read here.
As I mentioned at the onset, I am a Cunningham supporter. But there is no way I can defend a probable attempt to deceive voters. There's little difference between deleting references to Onorato's name and blocking Stoffa campaign signs. Micek claims he will "aggressively pursue an answer about these apparent differences from Cunningham's camp on Friday." I hope it's a good one.
As for me, did I screw up, too? Yep.
Update: It is Pa. Report That's Playin' Us!
One difference between printed newspaper and blog is you can always change or delete a blog. This is good and bad. You can make changes to correct misinformation. But you can also make changes to cover your tracks. I am highly critical of bloggers who delete or alter posts unless they explain exactly what they are doing to readers.
I've spoken this morning with Frank Kane, who works for Don Cunningham. Then I spoke to Don himself, who actually called me. He tells me that the online newsletter forwarded is exactly what was published on April 17. He has even supplied the hard copy. "My integrity and honesty is very important to me."
Get this. The folks at The Pennsylvania Report actually changed their online newsletter to add Onorato at some later point, and have admitted it to Morning Call reporter John Micek.
I pretty much feel like a jack ass right now. At 3 AM, I published a post that condemned a person I happen to admire and respect. At 9 AM, I learned I was wrong. I apologize to all involved, especially Don Cunningham, and am now headed to my bunker. For those of you who want to slam me about this mistake, I deserve it.