(Toledo OH) I read with interest the Toledo Blade article detailing what the editors of the paper claim they knew about Fritz Wenzel, the Blade reporter that GOP and Blade sources claim knew about the shady dealings of Tom Noe.
I worked on this story for two weeks last year for the Toledo Free Press, but given the fact that no sources would go on the record, we spiked it. There is no point in running a story with 8 off-the-record sources.
At the risk of sounding like an arrogant fortune teller, the piece was about what I expected. The Blade is sticking to the same story that they have been telling: namely, that Fritz Wenzel never approached Blade editors about GOP money laundering, Coingate, or any other Noe-related scandals.
While the sidebar claimed that the Blade's purpose "is not to bash any individual, including the author of the letter," they did take a few swipes at George Tanber, the Blade writer who sent the anonymous letter to the Pultizer Prize committee charging that the paper attempted to coverup alleged ethical lapses by Wenzel. Tanber was fired by the Blade for his role in the letter to the Pulitzer committee.
Also getting some implied shots was Editor and Publisher magazine, which discussed the Blade's use of emails and outing of sources.
What it all boils down to is this: Wenzel said he told Blade editors everything he knew about GOP money laundering schemes and Coingate, and the Blade editors say that he never approached them. Wenzel says that he kept Blade editors apprised of his roles as a Zogby freelancer and as a GOP strategist, and the Blade editors say that he did not. Readers can decide for themselves who they believe.
I have never met or spoken with George Tanber, and in 16 years in Toledo I have exchanged two emails with the man (both unrelated to Wenzel). Nor have I read the Pulitzer letter, so I am unable to even comment on it. Copies are flying around, so if I get one I will post it.
The Blade piece provided readers with most of the facts in the matter, put just a little spin on the affair, and readers leave the article knowing only a few more details than were available in the previously published articles in Salon, E&P, Cincinnati City Beat, and Toledo City Paper.
Here's my take, for what it is worth. I think Wenzel was told about the scandals by GOP sources, sat on them, and never told anyone what he knew. I find it hard to believe that the Blade editors knew about Coingate and Laundrygate before the 2004 election, as these stories were too hot to shelve. I think the Blade editors later found out about the alleged ethical lapses of Wenzel, and tried to keep them internal personnel matters.
The purported crowing in the Blade newsroom by Wenzel to some of the Coingate reporters ("I knew about this months before you") and the going away party at the Belmont Club for Wenzel turned this into a very public scandal, as pissed off Blade employees began to talk about Wenzel's alleged ethical lapses.
That's what I believe; what do YOU think?...