Sunday, November 11, 2007

Messenger continues to seek the truth...

...well, sorta.

Tony Messenger has written a lot of editorials about Scott Eckersley and the Governor's office. He's gotten plenty of slaps on the back and kudos for his work. Here are a few of the praises sung for him by commenters at the Springfield News-Leader's web site:

malcontent wrote:

"Keep up the good work Tony. I'm sure I speak for a lot of readers when I say I'm happy to see the News-Leader taking a critical look at what our elected officials are doing in our name."

stillconservative wrote:

"Thanks for the exceptional reporting Messenger, thanks for sticking your neck out there and taking a few hits to do what's right Eckersley, and no thanks to Blunt and his staff for their terrible (and maybe criminal) stint in office. Take 'em down boys, make it rain."

wineisgood wrote:

"Kudos to Tony Messenger for his fine (and ACCURATE) work."

ProgressiveVet wrote:

"When needed, Tony is a bite and hold on bulldog. Yeeeehaw!!! Er, whoops. Kudos to good reporting and commentary regarding shinnigans of those who only think they can do whatever they want to do."

Mom2 wrote:

Thank you and th epaper for following and staying on top of this. I voted for Gov Blunt--once........not again. I know there are two sides to every story..but, this is becoming unbelievable in the facets we are hearing."

LauraMcCaskill wrote:

"Thanks to Tony Messenger for bringing transparency to this issue."

What is this grand thing Tony Messenger has done? What has been the focus he's had that has brought such glowing reviews?

Well, he's written a slew of editorials about how Scott Eckersley, the recently fired Blunt administration attorney, is more credible than the Missouri State Governor's office and administration. Today he wrote Men vouch for Eckersley.

Messenger spoke to Jerry Harmison, a Springfield attorney and former President of the Springfield School Board, a Republican who has known Scott Eckersley "since he was a law clerk at the firm Lathrop and Gage." He spoke to Greene County Circuit Court Judge Mark Powell. He spoke to Springfield City Attorney Dan Wichmer.

These three men spoke on behalf of the integrity, character and honesty of Scott Eckersley.

What does it prove?


That is, nothing other than Messenger's continuing willingness to try to do to the Blunt administration what he accuses the Blunt administration of doing to Scott Eckersley.

Character assassination by ink on an editorial page editor's computer screen and the printed page of The Springfield News-Leader.

Eckersley has claimed that the Governor's office fired him because he advised them on email retention. He can't prove it (or won't prove it) and he would have said nothing about it if someone from the Blunt administration would have only given him a glowing reference for the Romney Presidential campaign so that he could get another job. I mean, that's the least they could do, right?

So far, we have evidence that supports Blunt's office that Eckersley was fired for cause after being given an opportunity to resign, an opportunity he declined.

So far, we have evidence that Eckersley was receiving emails from an adult-sex website.

In Attorney speaks out about being fired, Messenger wrote, "Eckersley shudders at the thought that his name would ever be uttered in the same sentence with the phrase "group sex."" But later in the same editorial Eckersley was reported to have said the web sites were spam email that came to his state account after he forwarded another email account there. At this link, provided by the News-Leader, you can view emails sent to: from: Adult FriendFinder []. This must be one of the email accounts Scott Eckersley forwarded to his state owned computer.

My husband has received spam solicitations before, but nothing like this. Nothing that tells him he has 5 new matches. Nothing that lists his name as though it is an account that has been opened. On this email, it references: "eck44556677" and tells the receiver "we have 5 members near Columbia that you're looking for!" The email also offers him an opportunity to join other dating sites and offers that, "This email was sent to you in association with the member, eck44556677, on Adult FriendFinder. If you think you've received this email in error, you can remove your address from our database." The email then asks, "Did you forget your password? For any other assistance or questions, contact us." It is not the only such email found at the link provided above. Interestingly, he signed other, unrelated emails "eck," that are included in the package of information the Governor's office sent to the News-Leader to support the reasons they gave for Eckersley's firing.

So far, in other emails available at the link above, we have evidence that Eckersley spent a lot of time explaining why he was late for work and even wrote an email to "Herschel Henry" with the subject line: "Before you fire me..." in which he discusses why he's going to show up late and offers that he's going to put 2 or 3 additional alarm clocks around his apartment so he won't oversleep again.

In another series of emails between Eckersley and John Russell, Eckersley said he's overslept AGAIN and wondered if Herschel could fire him for it. Eckersley said he got yelled at and that it was merited but that he just kind of didn't really care too much. Russell told him that "Techinically I guess but I don't think he would 1. Want to and 2. Do it without talking to Ed." (Typo Russells).

Finally, we have evidence to support the Governor's office's claim that Eckersley spent a lot of time doing business for a company owned by his family.

What is interesting is that Messenger never questions any of this. Instead, he writes such titles as "E-mails released by state show Eckersley case has most merit," "Attorney: Firing 'reprehensible,'" Blunt lawyer's letter leaves the questions," and "Men vouch for Eckersley."

What has been so obviously missing in this entire convoluted saga of editorials is any editorial questioning of Eckersley's claims. Eckersley's statements are all taken at face value and Eckersley is always given the benefit of the doubt, Blunt's office never is given the benefit of the doubt. Not once. In fact, when Messenger titled, "AP: Memo backs Eckersley," he completely ignored some key points in the Associated Press article, such as, the AP article states:

"A former staff attorney for Gov. Matt Blunt sent an internal office memo challenging his boss’s stance on deleting e-mails just weeks before the attorney was fired, according to a copy of the memo obtained by The Associated Press."

But then adds much later:

"It is not clear if any of the recipients passed the memo on to Blunt, his chief of staff Ed Martin or anyone else in Blunt’s office."


"Eckersley said he wouldn’t comment directly on the memo, citing attorney-client privilege."


"On Friday, Chrismer reiterated that Blunt’s office has “no record that Scott Eckersley ever wrote or stated that the practices of our office were inconsistent with any law or standard on record retention and I cannot comment on a document that any news outlet has so little confidence in that it will not provide it to me.”"

And the memo, in fact does not state the practices of the Governor's office were inconsistent with any law or standard on record retention. The AP reports it as saying:

"In the Sept. 14 memo, Eckersley said “e-mails can be ’public documents”’ — a legal opinion that was at odds with public statements Blunt and his spokesman Rich Chrismer were making at the time." (emphasis mine)

I'm not sure what statements The AP writer was referring to here. I've always heard that emails CAN be public documents but aren't ALWAYS public documents. I don't remember hearing or reading that Blunt or Chrismer ever said otherwise. Maybe someone can refresh my memory on that? AP goes on:

"The memo is not clear-cut in its stance that e-mails are public documents. It says not every e-mail is automatically public because the Sunshine Law excludes letters or documents that a government agency receives, but does not retain."

The AP article also claims that Eckersley advised the Governor's office:

“If we want to attack the AG on this we should not ask the post-dispatch why they have not requested letters from Nixon, we should ask Nixon to clarify the retention schedule as one of the members of the commission that created it,” the memo says."

Tony Messenger, if anything makes me laugh. He's very comical. He claims that The AP article "backs Eckersley," it seems to me that it also backs the Governor's office.

It is such allegations that Eckersley's case is more supportable than Blunt's case that has me reeling trying to keep up with the spin. I'm sure if I wanted to contact three or four men who have worked with Ed Martin, Matt Blunt, Herschel or any other Blunt staffer that I could find three or four men who would vouch for their character, integrity and honesty and, you know what? That wouldn't prove anything either.

Messenger keeps claiming he wants the truth but it seems he only wants to question one party on this issue and I don't think it will be easy to get at the truth doing that. Sorta like paddling a boat with one oar and keeping it on the same side of the boat, causing you to only go in circles. I don't know if Tony is getting dizzy yet from all of his spinning, but I can "vouch" for it that I sure am.

I know a couple of things here, maybe even more than that but I'm getting tired. I know that we DON'T know the truth yet and I know that the Attorney General needs to clarify Sunshine law policy on email retention. Hey! Now that I think about it, those are the same things I knew yesterday and the day before yesterday. Call Tony Messenger for all the allegations that we DON'T yet know are true.


Jason said...

I don't see why you are so bothered if Tony Messenger gets support from people for his efforts. You've written about as much slamming him lately as he's written about this situation.

Really, Jackie...don't you think you've made your point yet?

Jacke M. said...

Here's the way I see it, Jason, since you asked.

There is a wrong being committed here. Messenger is only giving one side of this story but there is more than one side to this story and everyone else seems to have dropped out in explaining it.

I am not "slamming" Tony so much as exposing him for his bias. I am not "slamming" Tony so much as I am trying to show that there is another side to the issue.

I don't understand, Jason, why you ask a lowly blogger and citizen journalist if they haven't made their point yet while ignoring the editorial page editor of one of the largest newspapers in Missouri.

Why haven't you asked HIM if he's made HIS point yet?

I think people have a responsibility when they see something going on in the press that isn't right and isn't quite honest. I see it as a responsibility that as long as Messenger continues to try to smear the Governor's office with no firm evidence or with debatable information, someone needs to point it out.

I may not be able to do this with every issue because I don't have the time but Messenger has been drilling HIS point that Eckersley is credible and Matt Blunt is a LIAR for a long time now. In fact, if Messenger didn't continue on his smear campaign then I'd have nothing to continue to write about, would I? ;)

The source of this subject has a much vaster readership than little old me. "Why are you so bothered" about little old me addressing Tony Messenger's bully pulpit?

And, it isn't that I have a problem with Messenger getting support, it's that I question what they are supporting. I guess you missed that point, maybe you didn't read the whole entry, who knows? It always helps though, if you want to discuss someone's blog entry, to read the whole thing. Another good rule of thumb is to try to discuss the issue rather than questioning the writer's right to write about an issue, in my opinion.

And no, I won't have made my point until as many people have read my point as have read Tony Messenger's point and by my figures I have a LONG way to go before that goal has been accomplished.

So, when do I get to start dictating the subject matter at your blog?

Anonymous said...

You're missing the biggest fact in the matter Jackie: Gov. Blunt is breaking the law. He hasn't followed the very Sunshine policy he signed. His own office said it best by sending out personnel/personal info about Eck all over Missouri (you may have even gotten the packet), but then denying Eck's request for the same info...CITING THE SUNSHINE LAW! Sending that stuff out was breaking the sunshine law, and extremely unethical. Blunt is the one who won't open the records, not Eck. If his side of the story is so clean, then open up the documents so we can see if Eck really did advise him he wasn't following policy. You need to read that memo again with a more objective eye, and take a look at the history of this affair. By the way, the gov's office and the website confirmed that he never once opened an email or visited that site. Would you fire someone over a spam email? Tell him to stop the forwarding and carry on. Try all you want to spin this the other way, but anyone with open eyes can see how one-sided this crap is.

Jason said...

Actually, I did ask him about it and said it looked like he was on a witch hunt. He disagreed with my assessment just as you disagreed with my assessment of your writing.

"Another good rule of thumb is to try to discuss the issue rather than questioning the writer's right to write about an issue"

I never said that you did not have a right to write about it but if you are going to go down that path again then I won't waste my time commenting on your entries.

Jacke M. said...

Okay, anon., I was unaware that there has been a court ruling that Governor Blunt has broken the law. Can you provide a link to that information so I and my other readers can educate themselves?

It seems to me that Blunt's office has released the information they chose to release and Eckersley has released the information he has chosen to release. Both have made points in their cases to try to support their claims and positions. Neither party, in certain cases, have been willing to waive attorney/client privilege.

I've never said either side of the story is "so clean," what I have been trying to point out all along is that there have been a lot of allegations made that have not been proven.

I'm not trying to spin anything. I am simply pointing out that there are two sides of the story. Messenger has done a fine job of giving one side of the story and taking Eckersley's side.

No one had ever done ANY kind of job giving the other side of the story. I decided someone ought to do that.

There is as much evidence, or more, to support Blunt's side as there is to support Eckersley's side. But, let me be clear, I'm not taking a side. The side I support is the truth.

I'm all for holding Blunt and his administration accountable if they've done something wrong but I'm not going to call him a liar because Tony Messenger said he is, it's that simple.

Jacke M. said...

Jason, how would you take it if I visited your blog and asked you "don't you think you've made your point yet?" What would you think such a question implies if not "I think you HAVE made your point and I think you should shut up about it now."

Honest answer, please.

Anonymous said...

Eck is ethically bound as the attorney, he isn't able to waive attorney-client privelage. Blunt is able as the client, but won't do it. If Blunt opens up Eck's emails and the alleged documents don't exist we'll know the truth right away, but he won't do it. All of the administrations actions, changing excuses, press releases, and evasiveness point to a cover-up.

Jacke M. said...

"All of the administrations actions, changing excuses, press releases..."

THEY SAY they released what they needed to release in order to support their reasons given for the firing. Apparently, some people think they should not respond when they are accused in the press by a disgruntled past employee.

You say "changing excuses, press releases," it could also be interpreted as elaboration on policy so that the press and public will have a clearer understanding about their policy on email, which they have claimed is "to follow the Sunshine law" as they understand it applies to email.

The Attorney General needs to clarify Sunshine law policy on email retention.

None of these thoughts are new, I'm repeating myself. Why don't you read all of my extensive posts on the subject so you'll have a clearer understanding of the other side of the issue and I won't have to repeat myself? That's the least you could do if you want to discuss the issue, anon. Post after post I have written makes those points, over and over again.

Thank you.