Friday, November 04, 2005

ANOTHER Rheinberger Email Is Received!

This is amazing.

As you recall, local TV celebrity Ms. Margot Rheinberger sent an email to my editor in early October accusing me of telling lies, hinting at professional discipline and legal action against the paper, and suggesting that it was time for the Gazette to fire me. I was indeed fired by my editor about twenty four hours after she received Ms. Rheinberger's first email.

Just when we thought things couldn't get any weirder, I receive an email from someone purporting to be Margot Rheinberger. I must assume, until she states otherwise, that Margot Rheinberger, sister of School Board candidate John Rheinberger, is the author. Again--the following is not a work of my own composition; not an original work of political satire. To the best of my knowledge at this time, it is a genuine email to me from Margot Rheinberger, which I received on November 2, 2005. My reply to Ms. R follows. (And check out that catchy title she gave her latest email!)

Wed, 2 Nov 2005 16:50:34 EST
Please don't distribute/publicize this e-mail on your blog or elsewhere.

Hi, Bill! I just wrote Micki Adams at the Stillwater Gazette. I informed her that I was quite surprised that you were no longer a columnist at that newspaper AND that I was not elated at all by that news as you or others may think I would be. Actually, neither was my brother, John. Micki passed on your e-mail address to me so I could convey this to you.

I saw your blog advertised in one of the newspapers the other day. On your blog I noticed that you credit/blame my e-mail to Micki for being the reason for your being "fired." I certainly would not have wanted that to be the reason and wrote Micki as much. She wrote me that the newspaper's decision was made "independent" of my e-mail.

I told Micki that all I wanted was for you to make a concerted effort to avoid making statements that insinuated or directly implicated that my brother had engaged in illegal activity, which he hadn't. That's all! You may not have even been aware of doing it. You are a bright man and I don't doubt for a second you would have agreed to be more careful had I been given the opportunity to talk with you. You are entitled to fair opinion and I would never have wanted to take that aspect from you!

Your mentioning my brother's name in that last column reminded me of the slippery slope that had occurred during my brother's previous run for office. That is why I wrote Micki. The overall topic about two current School Board members resigning and the possibility of my brother being appointed didn't bother me in the least. Actually, I was completely unaware of that "rumor" until you enlightened me! I was intrigued by it because my brother would be a big cheerleader of quality education in our schools. He is very knowledgeable in so many facets of K-12 education, and it is an area of interest he has had for as far back as I can remember. As you well know, my brother is conservative in many ways, however, when it comes to investing in and advocating for quality public school education, this is a definite and wonderful exception!!!

I hope you will be a guest on one of my cable programs on some K-12 topic in the very near future. Just let me know what area(s) you would enjoy discussing. Thank you, Bill! Margot

Here is my reply to Ms. Rheinberger, sent today November 4, 2005:

Fri, 4 Nov 2005 10:12:41 -0800 (PST)
"W Prendergast"
Re: Please don't distribute/publicize this e-mail on your blog or elsewhere.

Thank you for your email of November 2, 2005. And thank you for your concern about the circumstances surrounding my departure.

Unfortunately I cannot agree to your request not to distribute or publicize this email. If someone asks me to keep opinion or information confidential prior to disclosing it to me, I will sometimes agree to that. But 1) you did not request in advance that any communication by you to me be kept confidential and so 2) I could not and did not agree to a condition of confidentiality prior to receiving it.

I feel that your email to me is of public interest because you and your brother are both prominent local political figures. I also feel that readers are entitled to make up their own minds about your actions and intentions in light of the contents of both these emails. They can judge for themselves whether your first email constitutes 1) a threat to report the Gazette to the Minnesota News Council, 2) a threat of possible legal action against the paper, and 3) a suggestion to my former editor that I am bad for the paper and that she ought to fire me. (Of course, the fact is that my editor did fire me about twenty-four hours after she received your email.)

I will present your emails together on my blog so that people can judge the matter for themselves. Next time please let me know in advance of telling if you would prefer that I keep something confidential. I have kept things confidential for people in the past and might agree to do so for you in the future.

I do not understand your remarks about insinuating that your brother has “engaged in illegal activity.” I also recall that you accused me of writing columns of “lies” but cited no examples that would justify such a horrible accusation. In the more than two years that I was writing for the paper, no one ever asked me to issue a correction or retraction of anything that I wrote—despite the fact that I wrote on public affairs and regularly criticized public officials.

You were not the only local celebrity who chose to approach my editor privately, out of sight of the public, to object to what I wrote in my last column. None of the people mentioned in that column contacted me personally or wrote to me publicly to dispute the column’s accuracy. (School Board member Nancy Hoffman wrote in, but as it turns out she was objecting to something I didn’t write.)

So we must assume then that the column was on target and that the politicians mentioned in it preferred pressuring my editor and publisher privately to debating the column publicly. Apparently that is how the most influential people in this small town do business; the public be damned.

Thanks for your kind invitation to appear on your television program at some time in the future, but I will decline. I prefer print. The print medium makes it easier for fair-minded readers to review exactly what was said and then make up their own minds about the persons and issues involved.

Best wishes,Bill Prendergast


At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I prefer print. The print medium makes it easier for fair-minded readers to review exactly what was said and then make up their own minds about the persons and issues involved."

Given the juxtaposition of Morgot's gracious reach out to you and the absolutely bizarre letter to the editor that you say you sent my response could only be..

"Truer words were never spoken".

Really Bill, if you still maintain the delusion that you were fired for anything other than submitting poorly written, delusional rantings in leiu of commentary I suggest a quiet retreat to reconsider.

At 2:02 PM, Blogger bratworst said...

wow - swiftee, you really know how to turn a phrase - 'gracious' and 'Margot' in the same paragraph - a rhetorical version of 'Twister' wouldn't you say - actually would you go on a quiet retreat - please?


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