Fascinating tidbits

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By Tim Redmond

From the what-did-they-know-and-when-did-they-know-it department:

Fog City Journal reported friday that the folks at that online pub had asked Ruby Tourk in December about the rumors of her affair with the mayor. A short excerpt:

When we asked Ms. Tourk in early December about the deafening whispers, she denied everything and clammed up. She became incensed and told the mayor's inner circle.

That's when Luke Thomas, Editor-in-Chief of Fog City Journal, got a hostile phone call from Eric Jaye - Newsom's campaign strategist - within minutes of Thomas speaking with Ms. Tourk seeking comment on the alleged affair. Jaye threatened Thomas with a libel/slander lawsuit if he published anything on the matter. It was like begging for the term "Rubygate."

Well, that's odd: Eric Jaye is a spinmeister not above twisting the truth to protect his candidates, but he's not a fool -- and he knows as well as I do that truth is an absolute defense against libel (and that libel suits in these types of situations tend to be even messier than the original mess). So what was that all about?

I called Jaye and he told me that the FCJ report was absoutely true: He did call Thomas and threaten legal action. Why? "Because Ruby Tourk called me and told me that they were going to publish a story about her having an affair with the mayor, and that it wasn't true, and she needed my help. She's a good friend, and when people threaten my friends, I react."

So if Jaye is telling me the truth, back in early December -- remember, this is only a couple of months ago -- Ruby Tourk was still denying the affair, and Jaye, one of the more sophisticated and experienced political consultants in town, was buying her line.

By then, I can tell you from personal experience, the story was all over City Hall. I wasn't going to put it in the paper (not our kind of story anyway, and we don't print this sort of rumor), but almost everyone I talked to knew about it and they all said it was bound to come out soon.

Jaye must have heard the rumors, too, and if he didn't talk to the mayor about them (and about how to respond) he should be fired; watching the mayor's (political) ass is his job, and he gets paid quite well for it. Which suggests that either (a) Ruby Tourk was in fact still denying the affair two months ago, and so was the mayor, and Jaye and others in the inner Newsom circle really didn't think it was true, or allowed themselves to be convinced that it wasn't true -- in which case Newsom lied directly to his closest political advisors, which is pretty damn dumb, or (b) there has been a lot more spin and orchestration going on here than anyone in the press or the Mayor's Office has acknowledged.