Wendy Ruderman Is Going to City Hall

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After the last couple of years, Daily News writer Wendy Ruderman could’ve gone Hollywood: She won a Pulitzer, went to the New York Times, came back again, co-wrote a well-received book, and soon will see a TV show based on her exploits with reporting partner Barbara Laker and starring Sarah Jessica Parker.

Now she’s headed to City Hall.

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Inky, Daily News Websites Shutting Down

Soon to be no more.

Soon to be no more.

The websites for the Inquirer and Daily News will shut down in December, leaving Philly.com as the sole website distributing the journalism of the two papers.

“In December, we will fold the Inquirer.com and PhillyDailyNews.com sites back into Philly.com, our flagship digital brand,” journalists at Interstate General Media, which owns all three entities, were told in a memorandum today. “What this means is that the standalone newspaper-branded sites will no longer exist and will instead redirect readers to Philly.com, where users will find Inquirer and Daily News journalism featured more prominently and have access to branded Inquirer and Daily News section fronts that represent the editorial voice and judgment of the newspapers.”
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John Baer Wrote Today’s Funniest Line About Pennsylvania Politics

The Daily News‘ John Baer writes today that Gov. Tom Corbett is on the verge of a defeat so deep and humiliating it would be kinder to use a “mercy rule” to award the governorship to Tom Wolf right this second.

Corbett’s excuse for trailing? He didn’t realize he needed to work so hard to tout his own accomplishments. Which leaves Baer’s mouth agape, metaphorically speaking:

If Corbett loses, he needn’t look far for the principal reason why.

In a recent interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, he himself spelled it out:

“Frankly, I always was of the philosophy – and I certainly am changing that now – that if you do a good job, people will recognize it and it will get reported.”

This betrays either a profound misunderstanding of politics, a long-term disconnect from reality or the cognitive powers of a cocker spaniel.

Ouch. Funny. But ouch. We’re guessing Baer won’t get a Christmas card this year.

(UPDATE) Gerry Lenfest Is Tom Corbett’s Fifth-Biggest Donor

Philanthropist H.G. "Gerry" Lenfest speak at a news conference after a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Photo | AP, Matt Rourke

Philanthropist H.G. “Gerry” Lenfest speak at a news conference after a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Photo | AP, Matt Rourke

[Update 6 p.m.] Interstate General Media, the company that owns the papers and Philly.com, sends along a statement saying the donations are old news:

In February 2014, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Magazine both reported on the nature of Mr. Lenfest’s $250,000 donation to Governor Corbett’s reelection campaign. The donation was directly related to the governor’s approval of a $30 million grant for the proposed Museum of the American Revolution.

In the Feb. 4 Inquirer article, headlined “Lenfest second largest individual donor to Corbett”, Mr. Lenfest made the following statements regarding his donation in an interview:

“I greatly appreciated that support from the Commonwealth,” Lenfest said. He said he was “even more appreciative of what Gov. Corbett did” because Lenfest had supported Democrat Dan Onorato for governor in 2010.*

“He (Corbett) saw the museum as something worthy of support. . . . It wasn’t a quid pro quo because he didn’t know that I’d give to him when he approved the RCAP grant,” Lenfest said.*

It should be noted that Mr. Lenfest’s political contributions to the governor’s campaign were made prior to becoming sole owner and publisher of Interstate General Media’s publications. Mr. Lenfest stands by The Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com’s fair and balanced coverage of the gubernatorial campaign.

[Original] Gerry Lenfest, publisher of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com, is one of the biggest cash donors to the re-election campaign of Gov. Tom Corbett, an Associated Press analysis reveals.

Lenfest has given $252,000 to Corbett’s campaign, making him the Republican’s fifth-biggest donor, AP reported.
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Ruderman Responds to Inquirer Takedown on Facebook

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Wendy Ruderman, one-half of the Daily News‘ Pulitzer-winning duo whose work has come under scrutiny by the Philadelphia Inquirer, took to Facebook today to rebut allegations she and partner Barbara Laker behaved unethically during the reporting of the “Tainted Justice” series on police corruption.

“I’ve been advised over and over again NOT to speak out or go on Facebook or Twitter,” she wrote. “But to sit quiet, at least for me, feels cowardice and wrong.”

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3 Reasons the Case Against “Tainted Justice” Doesn’t Add Up

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Something doesn’t add up.

The Inquirer on Friday did something pretty unusual: It printed a takedown of the reporting behind the Daily News’ Pulitzer-winning “Tainted Justice” series of reports about police corruption in 2009. The underlying question in the report: Why had Thomas Tolstoy — accused of sexually assaulting women on the job, as well as sundry other bits of corruption — been able to stay free and even keep his police job in the years since?

The Inky’s answer? Ethically questionable behavior on the part of the Daily News reporters, Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker, may have compromised the case. Specifically, the two are alleged to have offered financial assistance to “Naomi,” a key witness who said Tolstoy jammed his fingers into her vagina during a 2008 drug raid. Naomi’s real identity has never been revealed publicly.

Commissioner Charles Ramsey, at least, is making the case that the reporters’ behavior was so egregious that Tolstoy — a bad cop by the commissioner’s estimation —  won’t get the punishment he might deserve. “It’s not a question of whether misconduct occurred. I think we have an investigation that does demonstrate that,” Ramsey told KYW Newsradio, “but this could very well be exploited by defense counsel when it comes to creating some doubt in the mind of an arbitrator.”

Here are three reasons — drawn only from the public reporting on this issue — that the “bad reporting kept a bad cop on the streets” story doesn’t quite make sense.

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Is “Tainted Justice” Now Tainted?

It would appear that an Inquirer story killed last month by publisher Gerry Lenfest is back from the dead.

The Inquirer today has a lengthy front-page story examining why Thomas Tolstoy, a Philadelphia Police officer accused of sexually assaulting women in the Daily News’ Pulitzer-winning “Tainted Justice” series in 2009, is still on the force.

The Inky’s answer? A main witness gave federal officials inconsistent accounts of her encounter with Tolstoy. And her already shaky credibility was hurt when she told federal officials that Daily News reporters Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker had helped with bills and bought her gifts.

If true, investigators said, Ruderman and Laker could be seen as “enticing” the victim’s story, harming her credibility in court. And journalistic ethics generally prohibit giving gifts to sources. Ruderman said she did buy a bag of groceries for the woman, but that was the extent of the help.

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