On Friday, philly.com gossip reporter Marnie Hall posted a video on the site asking Mayor Michael Nutter, “Who is Heather?”, referring to an “attractive blonde” he was seen dining with recently at Rangoon, the Burmese restaurant in Chinatown. In the video, viewable here, she wonders if “Heather” is the same blonde that Nutter reportedly had post-midnight drinks with last year at the Happy Rooster and on another occasion at the Ritz-Carlton. She reports that the Mayor’s office refused to provide a comment, so she ran her story without one. But later in the day on Friday, the video was removed.
According to sources, one of the mayor’s press aides contacted philly.com to complain about the video. Philly.com vice-president and editor Wendy Warren won’t explain why the video was taken down, stating, “We have a policy on not commenting on the internal editorial decision-making process … ” Sources say that Hall is angry about her story being killed post-publication, but in response to my request for comment, she simply writes, “I would love to talk to you … but I am not permitted to talk about editorial decisions.” As for the Mayor’s office, Deputy Press Secretary Katie Martin confirms that they did reach out to philly.com about the video. She adds, “We do not comment on the particulars of the Mayor’s … non-public schedule.”
So why did philly.com remove the video? Was it because the Mayor was trying to quash rumors of an affair? That’s certainly the sexiest version of the story. However, one source close to the matter says that the story did not receive the approval it should have from philly.com management prior to its publication. Okay, but even if that were true, why take it down after the fact? After all, Dan Gross had already reported in the Daily News and on philly.com that the mayor had been previously spied with a blonde. This was just another sighting, albeit with a more salacious, wink-wink-nudge-nudge video delivery by Hall.
The answer could be in how Hall may have obtained the story. According to Rangoon co-owner Mya Gyaw, when Hall visited Rangoon last week to make inquiries, she did not identify herself as a reporter but as a “friend of Heather’s”. Hall did not immediately respond to my request for comment on Gyaw’s allegation, but if it’s true, it’s as good enough reason as any to yank the video.