After calling a reporter a horse's ass yesterday, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush asked a very pertinent question:
Why now? Why are allegations that Crist is gay reaching the news now?
Bush would have you believe it's because of evil Democratic operatives, apparently possessed by the spirit of his dad's favorite political assassin, Lee Atwater. But that isn't true. The truth is that it's because a young GOP staffer named Jason Wetherington was mouthing off about having sex with Crist around Broward County in September.
Two witnesses to Wetherington's remarks -- I now have three credible, first-hand sources from three different parties (yes, Wetherington was a very busy boy) -- contacted me independent of one another (read the initial story here). There is no doubt, none whatsoever, that Wetherington made the claims and there are probably at least 30 first-hand witnesses to them. But he's still apparently swimming in the state of denial (after leaving the state of Florida until the election is over).
Wetherington also mentioned Bruce Carlton Jordan, the former Katherine Harris travel aide who is now at the center of the storm and the subject of a sworn statement regarding his own claims that he and Crist were romantically linked. Read more about him here (please read the stories carefully -- few reporters and TV news people have).
That's why it's breaking now. Nobody planned it. Nobody schemed
it. It happened naturally.
But it is unfortunate that it's breaking at the 11th hour. While voters surely have the right to know if Crist is lying hypocrite, it would have been better if this thing had shaken out six weeks ago. While the circumstantial evidence is mounting high, there is still no proof. And Bruce Carlton Jordan is nowhere to be found. Since New Times first published his name as being linked romantically to Crist 11 days ago, we haven't heard a peep from him. No denial, no confirmation, no nothing. And the Crist campaign, in a statement to NT this past Monday, called it "a false story from a convicted felon."
Maybe they know he made this claim and isn't backing down from it. But it's a mystery at this point.
While the stories have gone all over the Internet, the mainstream media, for the most part, has ignored the stories. They scared the establishment silly. As a local TV reporter/producer told me yesterday, "I have lived in agony over the past two weeks trying to decide what to do with this information." The St. Pete Times mentioned them, but only vaguely and stridently, without names. The CW network had a big splash on its national network with it (and the YouTube video has gotten nearly 18,000 views). Congressional Quarterly gave them a mention in a political horserace context. I've been on local radio stations all week.
But TV and newspapers sat idle and conflicted. Then came a little-known gay activist named Kyle DeVries, who held a press conference in Tallahassee yesterday demanding that Crist be honest about his sexuality. DeVries based his actions on my reporting.
And suddenly the TV stations were off and running. And when Steven Cooper, a reporter with the
NBC CBS affiliate in Orlando, asked Crist about it during a press conference with Jeb Bush, sparks flew. According to published reports, Bush said to Cooper, "Put a smile on your face and don't be such a horse's ass."
What did Crist do? He almost literally ran away. According to the Gainesville Sun's Joe Follick and Anna Scott, "Crist uncharacteristically ducked away after a quick answer and sat in an SUV while Bush addressed the issue."
While numerous newspapers and TV stations around the state report the responses and DeVries press conference, few delved into the substance of the matter. In one of the more in-depth approaches, WBBH-Channel 2 in Fort Myers, an NBC affiliate, filmed part of Dee Dee Hall's sworn deposition off of our web site and showed a photo of Bruce Carlton Jordan.
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In an unbelievably amateur move, though, the station didn't cite the NT reporting, simply saying the videotape "surfaced on the Internet." (To read the station's report and see video click here). The St. Petersburg Times is the only newspaper I saw that cited the newspaper by name, but reporter Steve Bousquet didn't get into the nuts and bolts of the matter, either. Like several news outlets, the Times, in its printed version, ignored that the Florida governor called a reporter a horse's ass during a press conference. I don't know, but that seems like news at least worth a mention.
The Sun-Sentinel completely ignored the story, as did the Palm Beach Post -- they were actually two of the only newspapers in the state not to report on the matter. Not surprising, considering their head-in-the-sand stance on Foley. The Herald mentioned it in passing on the blog, but misrepresented the facts. Mary Ellen Klas led her blog entry this way:
"As Gov. Jeb Bush was campaigning with Republican Charlie Crist in Orlando Friday, a local television reporter asked each of them what they thought of new allegations from people claiming in depositions that another man has claimed Crist is gay."
This is how the Herald boils down the Bruce Carlton Jordan story? No wonder the newspaper misses so many big stories in its own backyard.