The Tampa Bay Times has released a damning story on blogger Peter Schorsch. TBT collected emails, tweets and a contract of Schorsch asking for money in return for favorable coverage for politicians and political organizations. Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long and former state Rep. Frank Farkas went on-the-record telling TBT that Schorsch asked for money in return for favorable coverage. Farkas said Schorsch approached him.
Around October 2012, then-state House candidate Farkas said Schorsch called him. The blogger told him he would carefully screen what content related to Farkas appeared on his site if the politician signed an ad contract. "We didn't sign and I got what I expected: one-sided, slanted," Farkas said. "He stabs so many people in the back, and he continues to get away with it."Farkas claims that if you don't pay Schorsch you get punished with negative posts on SaintPetersblog. Long told a similar story of feeling intimidated by Schorsch.
Long described a similar experience during her 2012 County Commission run. Like Farkas, she didn't pay Schorsch, but denying him made her nervous, she said, saying: "You don't need to be out there incurring the wrath of someone like him because he's a loose cannon."This is two elected officials stating publicly that they were shaked down by a blogger and political consultant. The implication is Schorsch would write nice things about if they would pay him. This is journalisticly unethical on so many different levels. This means that Schorsch doesn't believe the positions and candidates he writes about on his blog. Schorsch only writes positives things about a candidate or policy if it helps his bank account. Imagine if a reporter for the Washington Post or New York Times was publicly accused of taking money for positive news coverage. There would be a major uproar. Many people wouldn't talk to TBT. Their reasons were all the same. They were scared of Schorsch.
More than a half-dozen people contacted by the Times declined to comment on Schorsch, several saying they feared retribution.Michael Pinson has been a longtime online target of Schorsch. Pinson showed TBT a contract Schorsch offered him. If Pinson would pay then Schorsch would lay off.
The contract called for a $1,000 bonus if anything Schorsch wrote about Pinson didn't appear in the first 30 online search results. The contract is notarized and signed by Schorsch. The Times met with the notary, who confirmed its legitimacy. Schorsch said his attorney drew up the contract but said it was at Pinson's request. Schorsch said the activist had repeatedly harassed him and his family.Schorsch claims he had the contract drawn up "just so this insane lunatic of a person would go away." This tweet Schorsch sent to someone who may have been connected to Pinson draws doubt to that.
"Tell Michael I said hi. Just think for 5K he could've made all of this go away. Wait till u see 'The Douchebag Returns' story."Schorsch's ego has a habit of pointing to his misdeeds. Attorney and political consultant Johnny Bardine was the first to publicly state that Schorsch was paying someone to wear a chicken suit and appear at debates. The publicity stunt was aimed at getting attention to the fact that Kathleen Ford was avoiding debates. Schorsch publicly told TBT that Bardine was a liar.
"Johnny is absolutely lying and he's doing so because I'm beating up on his client," he said, referring to District 8 council candidate Steve Galvin.A slick political operative would have left no link between himself and the chicken stunt. Schorsch's ego is so big he had to take credit and post this picture on social media. Schorsch lied to TBT and publicly called Bardine a liar. An interesting choice of words from someone who was lying at the time. Conservative blogger Sarah Rumpf wrote that Schorsch published an off-the-record conversation she had with him.
Rumpf explains in her post.
@SaintPetersblog You put in your post part of DM convo that you agreed was off the record. Last DM from you is "Will call you later..."— Sarah Rumpf (@rumpfshaker) November 29, 2011
First of all, Schorsch committed a serious breach of ethics by disclosing several of my comments that we agreed were "off the record." We had a phone conversation a few days ago and then some back-and-forth direct messages on Twitter yesterday. I've saved the screencaps and not only did Schorsch affirm that my previous comments were off the record, those direct messages were as well. I have never in my life had someone violate an agreement to keep a conversation "off the record," especially when it was in writing. To not only have that confidence violated, but for Schorsch to go so far as to directly quote my allegedly off-the-record words is ridiculous.Schorsch also has a criminal history. Creative Loafing awarded Schorsch "Most Arrests for a Political Operative." Schorsch was pleaded no contest for grand theft, has a history of writing bad checks, charged with stealing Tarpon Springs Democratic Club and fined $68,000 by the Florida Elections Commission. Mug shot of of Schorsch. There is a criminal inquiry now into Schorsch's activities. It appears that Pinson accusations has relaunch the inquiry. It was only a matter of time before Schorsch self-destructed again. I have noticed the deleted posts from SaintPetersblog. I suspected that Schorsch was behind the chicken stunt. Schorsch admitted in 2009 to planning to use homeless people to crash a Kathleen Ford news conference. That is tacky and exploiting homeless people. A political question is how long does Charlie Crist keep Schorsch and his wife Michelle Todd involved with the campaign? I privately told people that Republicans would attack Crist's links to Schorsch. An anti-Crist ad with a mug shot of Schorsch will not play well with the voters. The TBT article on accusations of payola only makes matters worse. The Obama people and the DNC will pressure Crist to cut all ties with Schorsch. That may even include firing Todd. From a blogging perspective: this stains political bloggers on the Left and Right in the Florida blogosphere. Peter Schorsch is our Stephen Glass. I am not a lawyer. I will let the criminal inquiry decide the legality of Schorsch's actions. What I do know is Schorsch destroys the credibility of blogging. Every Florida political blogger will have to fight with the perception that we are all like Peter Schorsch. We are not. Most of use do not even sell ad space. I certainly never heard of a political blogger shopping his lack of convictions for the highest bidder. Political bloggers are passionate about politics. Schorsch is passionate about money