Newsom's other Peter problem


By Steven T. Jones
At the end of yesterday's sex scandal whirlwind, I finally got a chance to talk with Newsom press secretary Peter Ragone about the scandal that got pushed aside by the larger scandal: Ragone being caught using pseudonyms in online posts and then lying to cover it up. Contrary to how this has been cast by the Chronicle and KCBS, Ragone has not truly owned up to what he did or shown any signs of wanting to restore his damaged credibility -- something he'll surely need as he tries to manage the other scandal and help Newsom re-engage with the public and the Board of Supervisors.

Incredibly, Ragone still claims that he had permission from his buddy John Nelson to post all comments for him, even though they make Ragone's same points and use his same juvenile style. As for his posts under the names Byorn and Jonell, he only grudgingly admits the fraud by saying "If it was it was posted from my IP address then I did it." He does promise to quit posting under fake names and says, "I know it's a mistake and I learned my lesson."
What lesson was that? Don't get caught? Or stop playing the role of deceitful scorched earth political operative while you're on the public payroll?
But what was truly galling is when I asked whether he intended to apologize to me and others for telling us intentional, knowing lies about whether he has posted under other names, why we should believe anything he now says, and how he intends to restore his damaged credibility.
"I'm sorry you feel that way," he said.
I asked whether he was sorry for lying to me or whether he was sorry that I'm concerned about him lying to me.
"I'm sorry you feel that way," he repeated.
And I'm sorry that I'll no longer believe what Peter Ragone tells me. Argh, the hubris of both Ragone and his boss is maddening. Both seem more concerned with getting caught than with their transgressions. And that arrogance and unaccountability won't serve either of them well as they try to recover from this week of scandals.