by Scott Benson
I know I just wrote a whole column yesterday telling the Star Trek Convention (Chapter President, here) to get a life when it comes to Spygate, but I just have to share:
John Tomase, the Herald beat reporter who wrote the infamous Walkthrough-Gate story in February that seemed to ruin the Super Bowl for thousands of Patriots fans (for me, it was more Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck), has acknowledged that he screwed up the story in an afternoon post to his The Point After blog.
I just wanted to make one thing clear — I know I screwed up on the Rams taping story and I don’t intend to hide behind today’s apology or an editor’s note. In Friday’s Herald I will explain as clearly as I can where that story went wrong and begin the journey of restoring your trust in my reporting.
I cannot in good conscience demand accountability of the people I cover and then not provide it myself. So it’s coming on Friday. Just be patient.
Okay, John, I can be patient. I have to admit that while I’m so tired of this farcical sh**storm, I’m interested in your explanation. And while I’m all for giving you your space, there’s just one thing:
When you are explaining, as clearly as you can, where the story went wrong, can you also explain the story that you wrote just yesterday, which was posted to the Herald website sometime in the late afternoon?
You know the story I’m talking about, John. The one that told readers – in the headline, and in the first paragraph – that Walsh had admitted in his meeting with the Commissioner to spying on the Rams at the walkthrough. That was your lede, and that was the word you used – spying. A conclusion – unless you’ve been talking to your sources again – you couldn’t possibly have reached on the evidence that was presented to anyone who cared enough to listen and watch.
The same story that buried the lead item from yesterday’s sad circus; that Walsh didn’t have any walkthrough tape, didn’t shoot any walkthrough tape, and didn’t know of any walkthrough tape. Odd, in that you had previously asserted that one did exist, which in large part led us to this point, and now the NFL doesn’t have even one person out of 50 interviewed that says that you’re right.
I’d love to link you to the story, John, but it got misplaced, I guess, and replaced with a generally benign piece bedecked with a ‘Case Closed’ header.
See, I’ve been of the opinion all along that you weren’t alone in that Super Bowl Eve story, and while you were no doubt culpable the minute you put your name on a story you now can’t back up, I know enough to know there’s other people involved in deciding what gets printed in the newspaper. Some have no business doing so, save for the checkbook they perch themselves on.
I don’t mind telling you – for the most part, I like your stuff. (Spare me the rejoinders, commenters.) I’ve always believed two newspapers is better than one, three is better than two, and for my part, I don’t mind somebody who might be a little more, oh, skeptical than I might be. It’s healthy. As long as the writer is standing on something other than his own warped predispositions. When that happens, it’s toxic (see: Borges, Ron, or that horrible piece of shit written by Tony Masserotti today. A despicable little man in both stature and deed).
I think you and your bosses were a little predisposed yourselves on Tuesday afternoon, and I think pretty soon after, some or all of you regretted it. The rub is that you scrubbed it and pretended it didn’t happen. But it did, and I saw it, and while you’re explaining, I’d like you to explain how that all came to pass.
After all, if you’re really going to restore the trust in your reporting, you’ll also have to explain how you went from hostile yesterday to contrite today.
Because if Tuesday afternoon’s first edition is what we can come to expect from you in the future, John, especially when the chips are down for you personally, you shouldn’t bother with the explanation at all.