The Pagliarini blowup might never have happenedOctober 15th, 2010 at 12:55 pm by Ted Nesi under News and Politics
… if he hadn’t resigned so abruptly on Thursday morning. At least, that’s the sense I got after hearing WJAR’s Jim Taricani on WPRO-AM this morning.
Anonymous e-mailers have been trying to get a few reporters interested in the Pagliarini jobless benefits story for a few weeks now, according to the Projo. Pagliarini says Taricani first called him on Wednesday night to ask about the documents. “I knew this was going to be a problem,” Pagliarini said he told Taricani then, which he says was a reference to the fact he’d already been getting inquiries about them.
Then yesterday morning, while Taricani was still looking into the story, Pagliarini resigned. Now, regardless of what had or hadn’t happened, this had become a breaking news story: “Chafee’s campaign manager resigns after allegations!” The Projo and the Associated Press both ran stories about the resignation and the leaked documents just after 1 p.m. – the Projo’s original blog post, now deleted, even said “1 p.m. embargo” in the URL – and that was only a few hours after Chafee was informed of Pagliarini’s resignation, according to The Journal’s account.
The bottom line is, when Pagliarini resigned he took the story out of Taricani’s hand. Investigative reporters are constantly asking about documents, tips and other pieces of information – and sometimes they run into dead-ends or get good explanations that turn something that looks juicy at first into a non-story.
Taricani said this morning he was surprised by Pagliarini’s resignation (which may explain why it took WJAR roughly two hours longer than the Projo, the AP, WPRI and other outlets to post a story they originated). And he hinted that the story might never have run without the resignation, depending on what the Chafee campaign showed him.
Asked directly whether he would have run it, Taricani said: “Well, I don’t know. If I’d had that explanation [about the payroll system] yesterday, I would have had a much longer talk with my bosses and editors at Channel 10. And look, put it this way – if [the Chafee campaign] had given me the documentation from the payroll service, that indeed this was a policy…. What made it a story was that he resigned.”