During the special election in Congressional District 13, the Tampa Bay Times‘ Adam Smith jumped the shark (and ruined relationships with many politicos in the community) by reporting that “David Jolly killed a man” (as a young man, Congressman Jolly was involved in the accidental fatality of a pedestrian) and his surprisingly amateur-hour attacks on a local reporter who scooped him and a public relations pro who Smith accused of undercutting his reporting.
After that incident, I wondered aloud if Smith had permanently damaged his reputation? It’s up to Smith’s readers to answer that question, although it’s been interesting that Smith has played largely under the radar since the CD 13 special election. He was nowhere to be found during the 2014 legislative session and he’s been mostly quiet on the most interesting political race in the country — incumbent Republican Rick Scott vs. Democrat Charlie Crist.
That is, until today.
In a blog post which steals its title from an earlier blog post of Smith in which he questioned Crist’s relationship with me, Smith attempts to ‘welcome Charlie Crist to the NFL.’
Responding to the Crist campaigns complaints that recent attacks by Scottworld on Crist’s wife, Carole, are out of line, Smith asks, “why shouldn’t the public have a look at the investments of the woman Crist says has the greatest influence on his decision-making?”
I don’t agree that Carole Crist or Ann Scott are fair game, but, for the purpose of this argument, I’ll concede for a moment that candidate spouses are no longer off-limits. What I want to know is why is Adam Smith so eager to ‘welcome Crist to the NFL?’
I believe it has to do with an end result Smith and the Tampa Bay Times are attempting to arrive at that is far worse than the Scott campaign’s questions about Carole Crist’s tax returns.
I think Adam Smith and the Times (I say the Times because enterprise reporter Michael Kruse is reportedly spending extensive time on a deep-dive profile of Crist which Smith’s reporting may or may not play a role) are going to go THERE.
Where is THERE?
THERE is recounted in Chapter 8 of Peter Golenbock’s book about Jim Greer. It involves a conversation reportedly between Greer and Crist aide Arlene DiBenigno about a trade mission Crist made to Brazil. Here is the key section:
Another time she (DiBenigno) called Greer and pleaded, “I need your American Express card number, and don’t ask me why.”
“I need to know why,” said Greer. She wanted his personal Amex card.
“You have to swear never to tell anybody this,” she said. “Okay.”“They have destroyed their hotel room,” she said. “They’ve broken a huge mirror; it’s cracked in two. The hotel says the governor can’t leave until he pays for the damage. The bill is $12,000.”
“I don’t know if I can pay that,” said Greer.
“It gets worse,” she said, clearly distraught.
“There was drug use. There was cocaine on the mirror.”
Of course, it’s one thing if a convicted criminal like Jim Greer recounts wild accusations; it’s another thing entirely if Adam Smith and the newspaper of record even hint at them.
Unfortunately, Smith, is going THERE.
Smith has interviewed two former Crist staffers, Rep. Dane Eagle and former communications director Erin Isaac, about the accusations discussed in Greer’s book, asking specific questions about the possibility of drug use. According to those familiar with Smith’s interviews, but not the interviewees themselves, it was obvious what Smith was getting at … painting a negative portrait of Carole Crist.
At this point, it’s not surprising that Smith would go THERE. This is Mr. “David Jolly killed a man.”
This is a reporter who wants to know, ‘Have you stopped beating your wife?’
That’s why Smith today laid the groundwork for his eventual attack on Carole Crist. He’ll justify his faux expose by saying, “Hey, the Rick Scott campaign made her an issue, so I had to follow up on those rumors from Greer’s book.”
Earlier this month, Smith, who lives in my neighborhood, was walking his dogs past my house. I was coming in from an errand, greeted him and asked him what he had been working on since I had not seen his byline as much as I once did.
“Something long-term,” answered Smith as he walked on.
Undoubtedly, “long-term” means an extensive profile of Charlie and Carole Crist. Unfortunately, Smith seems dead set on going THERE on his profile.
If that happens, what can you say further about a reporter still getting back up from the last time he jumped the shark?