It's true, S.V. Date, the Tallahassee reporter and Jeb Bush chronicler, has left the Palm Beach Post. Paul Blythe, the newspaper's state editor, confirmed that Date resigned on Friday, but wouldn't elaborate on the reason.
If you'll recall, Date -- who has been covering the Florida capital for 10 years, recently had a major conflict with management after his wife got a job in the administration of Gov. Charlie Crist. The problem with that was that Date was covering Crist at the time. The Post eventually pulled him from the governor beat. As for his leaving the newspaper, word on J Street is that there was a dispute over a blog Date was writing away from work (possibly his Omega Blog, which is no longer up and running). Whether it had to do with coverage of Crist isn't known. Date didn't return an email in which I asked him for comment.
This is a big loss to Florida journalism, at least for the moment. Date, a very good and dogged reporter, will be back in one form or another. For now you might want to read Date's book on Jeb titled, yes, Jeb. It's pretty interesting.
UPDATE: I wrote this post in a mad rush before a meeting, so this morning I dug just a little more and found this Omega Blog post by Date on Yahoo (for some reason it didn't come on Google). It was posted December 20, after the Post barred him from covering Gov. Crist. He writes of Crist's controversial compact with the Seminoles -- and defends the governor (aka his wife's employer) in it. Here's a key passage:
During his campaign for governor, Crist said he would oppose the expansion of gambling, and since then has modified that to say that he dislikes only one thing more than gambling, and that's increasing taxes. This shift is certainly fair game for criticism.
But to blame him for cutting a deal with the Seminoles while not criticizing Bush for allowing the amendment to pass in the first place seems more than a bit disingenuous. Perhaps Crist could have jerked the tribe around for another year or two, but the facts on the ground cannot be ignored. Florida is now permitting slot machines in the state, which means the tribe was going to get at least that no matter what. It's also quite possible that had the state played hardball, the tribe could have played right back -- and wound up with full-blown slots without having to share a dime with the state. Does it really make sense to risk that merely to keep out the so-called banked table games?
Understand, the Post had barred him from covering Crist after his wife, Mary Beth, landed a job at the governor's Office of Policy and Budget. And here he was defending Crist's gambling compact on his personal blog (I disagree with Date's analysis here, by the way, and think the compact is a blight on Crist's tenure as guv). Might this have played a role in the conflict that led to his quitting?