Tallahassee Reports has learned that the Tallahassee Democrat published an altered picture of Mayor Andrew Gillum and Adam Corey as part of a negotiation that resulted in the Tallahassee Democrat getting an interview with Mayor Gillum.
Gillum is a candidate for Florida governor.
Multiple sources, who have seen the unaltered picture, made Tallahassee Reports aware of the editing after the Tallahassee Democrat published the picture on January 18, 2018.
This edited picture, shown below, was reported to have been taken on a boat ride during a trip to New York City. Sources that have seen the unedited picture indicate the photo could be embarrassing to the gubernatorial candidate.
Also, sources close to Mayor Gillum indicated that the Tallahassee Democrat was pressured by Gillum, his supporters and Tallahassee Democrat advertisers not to publish the original picture.
One look at Gillum’s financial backers reveals a number of political heavy-weights supporting Gillum’s gubernatorial candidacy.
These names include the George Soros family, who donated $250,000 to Gillum’s Political Action Commitee (PAC), and the famous TV producer and liberal activists Norman Lear who donated $50,000.
At the local level, state lobbyists and local attorney Sean Pittman donated $45,000 and local businessman Rick Kearney donated $10,000.
In the end, an agreement was reached between Gillum and the Tallahassee Democrat which resulted in an edited version of the original picture being published in return for an interview with Mayor Andrew Gillum.
Why did the Tallahassee Democrat negotiate with Gillum over publishing the picture? What was newsworthy about the unedited picture?
The negotiations with Gillum are not consistent with the way the Tallahassee Democrat has recently handled sensitive pictures dealing with other prominent politicians.
For example, the Tallahassee Democrat has recently published unflattering photos associated with former Superintendent Jackie Pons and current City Commissioner Scott Maddox.
The article that accompanied the picture was published on January 18, 2018 was entitled “Andrew Gillum opens up about cutting ties with lobbyist friend Adam Corey and Mike Miller” and was written by reporter Jefferey Schweers.
Schweers informed readers that the cropped photo “prompted Gillum’s camp to reach out and request a meeting.” However, based on sources, the unedited and unpublished picture – not the cropped picture – prompted the meeting.
Was Schweers aware of the cropping? If so, he clearly misled readers.
The decision by the Tallahassee Democrat to alter the picture raises several relevant questions.
First, why was Mayor Andrew Gillum given a “deal” to avoid the printing of the unedited picture?
As mention above, other local political figures, such as City Commissioner Scott Maddox and former Superintendent Jackie Pons, have recently had unflattering pictures published on the front page of the Tallahassee Democrat without any “deal making” editing.
Second, the decision by the Tallahassee Democrat to “broker a deal” with an elected official raises questions about what other deals have been brokered with other elected officials in the past? What is the criteria used by the Tallahassee Democrat for offering deals?
Third, sources say Gillum supporters successfully convinced the Tallahassee Democrat it was in their best interest not to publish the original picture. Instead of exposing those behind these tactics, the Tallahassee Democrat chose to hide their identity and broker a deal. What Tallahassee Democrat advertisers and/or Gillum supporters are influencing the local news that gets printed by the Tallahassee Democrat?
And finally, did the Tallahassee Democrat use an embarrassing picture – with little news value – to encourage Mayor Andrew Gillum to give an interview? If not, what story was going to be written based on the original picture?
Tallahassee Reports is seeking comment from the publisher of the Tallahassee Democrat, Skip Foster, and the news editor, William Hatfield.