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10:50 AM

Lovable Losers 

Spinning Spencer

Free publicity isn't easy to come by in a pay-for-play culture such as ours. The stage light of fate falls where it may and rarely fixes its gaze for long. Like any student of the biz, John Spencer's handler, Rob Ryan, knows this rule. He's spinning like a top to keep his boy from falling off the front page and into the ass-end of the "Metro" section from whence few polls rise.

Yesterday Ryan continued to stoke the simmering controversy initiated by his charge's untoward comments about Senator Hillary Clinton's appearance. In a letter to the Daily News, he questioned "blogger/reporter" Ben Smith's account of the Spencer story. Like Broadway Danny Rose working a one-legged juggler, Ryan sets about making stew out of gruel:

For some reason, known only to him, Mr. .Smith seems to believe that the word "work" automatically translates into "plastic surgery". Perhaps he should keep up on the news and read what his fellow bloggers have to say on the matter. Just yesterday, Amanda Carpenter, a respected editor and author, wrote on the blog HILLARY WATCH that in the months of April and May 2006 the Clinton campaign reported spending $3,000 on celebrity hairstylist Isabelle Goetz to work on Senator Clinton's hair. In the month of May alone, Senator Clinton's campaign spent $2800 on the talents of make-up artist Barbara Lacey to work her magic on Mrs. Clinton. Are these professionals not being paid for their work?

Through-out both stories Mr. Smith runs rough shod over the quotes and the facts. Two glaring examples of inaccuracies are the claim that last Friday he and Mr. Spencer were on the "10:30 am JetBlue flight" — yet no such flight exists. Mr. Smith also refers to me as Mayor Spencer's "campaign manager" — a position I do not hold. My business card lists me as Communications Director and I have also been referred to as "campaign spokesperson" but, never campaign manager. While both these matters may appear trivial, I feel they are indicative of the sloppiness with which Mr. Smith has approached this story. If he can't report these simple facts correctly, how can we expect him to accurately report quotes without a tape recorder or without written notes?

It's hard to imagine John Spencer seeing Hillary's hair and saying, "Oh, that styling has Isabelle Goetz written all over it, and she does not come cheap" and then retroactively pricing the "work" to reach his estimated "millions" of dollars. But the idea of John Spencer: Secret Fashion Aesthete is intriguing. Nice work, Rob.

When in Doubt, Shoot the Messenger [Capitol Confidential]