UPDATE: Friday Patrick Kriner called in to WSPD's Eye on Toledo and presented a much different perspective on the whole notebook issue than what we've all had.
Paraphrasing Patrick's eloquent analysis, he said that the chairman of the LCRP must have a good working relationship with The Blade. That good working relationship is key to having discussions about candidates, issues and endorsements. He said that suing the paper over something as insignificant as a notebook is not conducive to such a relationship.
Patrick also said the real issue is NOT the notebook. The real issue is the STORY. The thing everyone should focus upon is not the theft/acquisition of a bunch of notes made by Simpson, but the way the paper was going to try to make it seem like there was some big conspiracy going on because of the names and comments they found in the notebook.
Patrick is right and I'm glad he's pointed this out.
He said that Simpson was correct in trying to get ahead of the story - of letting people know that no matter what the paper publishes or opines about what they 'infer' from what was written, the notebook was nothing more than a bunch of potential ideas that anyone would generate as they embarked upon a task - in this case, the chairmanship of the LCRP.
Again, I agree with this point.
Unfortunately, if that was the message Simpson was trying to deliver, it didn't come through. What Patrick so succinctly expressed was not the impression just about everyone got from reading the press release or listening to Simpson's radio interview.
This presents both a challenge and opportunity for Simpson. A challenge in that he must overcome the negative impression made as a result of the way he handled the issue.
It's also an opportunity in that he can learn from this mistake and take steps toward improvement for future situations. There are many individuals Simpson can call upon for help in this regard, including past chairmen of the party and former elected officials. Lest anyone misunderstand, I want Jeff to be successful. I believe he has the potential to be an excellent party chairman. I hope he will take advantage of the depth of experience in messaging and PR that exists within the LCRP and use it to more effectively prepare and develop his future media communications.
Original post from April 9, 2010:
Wednesday afternoon I received an email from Jeff Simpson - a press release about a 'stolen' notebook that a Blade reporter had acquired.
I posted the release because I thought it provided some insight into the role the paper has played in the internal struggle over the chairmanship of the Lucas County Republican Party and their support for Jon Stainbrook.
Then, yesterday morning, I heard Simpson on NewsTalk 1370 WSPD. To say I was disappointed is an understatement - and a feeling many people seem to share.
Simpson, a lawyer, just bemoaned the fact that the notebook was in the possession of the paper. He said he considered it to be his personal property and asked for its return. The reporter refused to return it, but did give him copies of it.
So what does Simpson plan to do? He said he "hopes" the reporter will eventually give it back.
Yes, he's going to wait to see if the reporter gives it back. He's not going to file a police report over the stolen property. He's not really going to do anything other than 'hope.'
And this upset callers during the rest of the morning show and into the Afternoon Drive with WSPD host Brian Wilson.
I'm not a lawyer and I don't play one anywhere, so I don't know the legalities of a newspaper acquiring property that clearly belongs to someone else and that they KNOW belongs to someone else. I just share the same common sense demonstrated by so many over the last 24 hours or so that if someone else has your property, there should be legal recourse for getting it back.
Perhaps, though, with the fact that the notebook was delivered to The Blade, there are limited legal actions that would be successful. If that's the case, Simpson should have explained that his recourse was limited and so he was trying to generate public support for the return of the stolen property. But he didn't do either of those things. And the end result was a general feeling of disappointment that he wasn't being more aggressive in defending his rights to his property.
Sadly, this episode has caused some to question what type of a party chairman he's going to be if he wins control of the party. If this is the way he reacts over a notebook that contained not only notes/ideas for the LCRP but also confidential attorney-client privileged information for a legal case he was working on, how will he address more significant issues like defending conservative principles and candidates? Will he just 'hope' the reporter does the right thing in the news article and coverage of the issue?
I hope Simpson will hear and read what people have said about this and change his behavior. It's his best 'hope' for continued support as the chairman of the party.