Javier Manjarres jumps the Shark (Tank)

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This is my original post from yesterday:

For the last couple of months, I’ve paid special attention to Javier Manjarres’ Shark Tank blog.  His is a Republican-oriented, South Florida-centric website very different from my site, even though we both cover Florida politics.  Not an especially strong writer, Javier relies more on video posts, of which, admittedly, he scores some interesting scoops from major political figures.

There is no room for nuance in the Shark Tank.  Either a politician is a rabid Republican or they do not exist, other than to serve as chum while feeding the, um, sharks.

The reason why I’ve been paying close attention to the Shark Tank is my personal belief that he is drawing too much heat and, in doing so, he risks jeopardizing the credibility of all of Florida’s blogosphere.

How so?  Well, there have just been too many accusations of pay-to-blog surrounding the Shark Tank (read here and here, although you can do a Google search and find a lot more ).  Now, there is nothing wrong with being paid-to-blog by a politician, so long as the arrangement is disclosed somewhere.

I honestly don’t know if Javier is being paid-to-blog, but too many observers think he is and it’s becoming a problem for not only Javier, but for the rest of us in Florida’s blogosphere.  That’s because if the accusation is true for a major blog like the Shark Tank, then it could be every blog or website, including mine.

And this is an issue I just don’t want to have to address.  Not only is not true, the exact opposite is true.  Do you know how many of the advertisers on this site would love for me to – right now – write about one of the issues important to them or their clients?  All of them!  But what my advertisers would like has nothing to do with what I write. (For example, both Bascom Communications and Ron Sachs Communications advertise on my site; how often are they on the same side of an issue.  Never.  And so writing for one of them would risk offending the other one.  Why would I jeopardize that advertising relationship?)

Unfortunately, too many of my reporter-friends ask me ALL OF THE TIME about advertising vs. editorial content and that’s because there are some sites which are nothing more than an appendage of a campaign.

That’s what I mean when I write Javier is attracting too much heat.

But what Javier did last night was not about being paid-to-blog, it was about incredibly poor judgment.  It was the moment Javier jumped the Shark.

Breathlessly, Manjarres wrote:

The Shark Tank has learned that RPOF Chairman David Bitner will be resigning his position as Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida immediately after the RPOF’s Presidency 5 and Straw Poll event, citing health issues.

Almost immediately, The Miami Herald‘s Marc Caputo legitimatized the report by posting it to his site.  From there, it was pile-on time.  I wrote a post about who might replace Bitner.  The Sarasota Herald-Tribune‘s Jeremy Wallace speculated on Twitter.

The only problem is Dave Bitner isn’t going anywhere.

In about as strongly-worded a post as you’ll see from him, the St. Petersburg Times‘ Adam Smith scored a quote (also sent to me) from the RPOF’s communication director that Bitner, despite being in poor health, was remaining Chair of the Party.

“David Bitner is the Chairman of the RPOF, and he is working everyday to advance the mission of our party. He has courageously and publicly discussed his ALS diagnosis, and yet he works everyday to make Florida better. These new reports about his future as the RPOF’s chairman are premature, factually inaccurate, and reek of the worst kind of political opportunism. People should spend less time gossiping about Chairman Bitner and more time admiring a man who displays principled leadership every single day.”

For speculating about who might replace Bitner, I am at fault as much as anyone for feeding the, um, shark frenzy. But offering analysis is why I have this blog, so I am not going to apologize for that.  I just wish I had waited a moment for the dust to settle.  I just happened to be in a writing mood last night and so I offered some “instant-analysis.”

My grandfather died of ALS and so I am particularly sympathetic to Bitner.  Sympathetic because I know the man’s mind is still so strong, it’s just his body that is failing him and that is what is so difficult.

And that’s why I am so upset with Javier Manjarres.  I rarely say this, but I could not sleep last night.  I felt duped my one of my blogging colleagues in a way not done before.  I just assumed Manjarres, supposedly so close to the conservative cause (he was CPAC’s “Blogger of the Year”) that he had to have some unique insight or reliable source.  Apparently, he does not.

So, it is the height of irresponsibility to write a post about a courageous, albeit, sick man stepping down from his position.  That’s playing God with someone’s political life and that’s absolutely wrong. Shame on me for repeating what you wrote, Javier.  But shame, shame on you for writing it in the first place.

With all of the heat surrounding him, with the continued accusations of being paid-to-blog and, now, with this story about Dave Bitner, I am sorry Javier, but you’ve jumped the shark.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.