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:
"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."
"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."
"Kudos to Tony Messenger for his fine (and ACCURATE) work."
"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."
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."
"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: email@example.com from: Adult FriendFinder [firstname.lastname@example.org]. 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.