Wednesday, April 15, 2020

My Twitter Spat With Will Bunch -- And Why He And His Newspaper Are Full Of It

By Ralph Cipriano

It had to happen at some point.

For months on this blog, I've been trashing my old paper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, for its coverage, or should I say non-coverage of the corruption and dire consequences of the radical policies imposed by District Attorney Larry Krasner.

Finally, somebody at the Inky decided to fight back.

And not just anybody. Will Bunch, the paper's lofty national opinion columnist, who usually hyperventilates daily about the evils of the devil named Donald Trump, went on Twitter yesterday to attack me. His target was a blog post I wrote about the brazen cluelessness of Mayor Kenney, Managing Director Brian Abernathy, and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw when it comes to fighting crime.

At invitation-only virtual press conferences held daily, this trio of public officials hasn't been able to articulate a single idea about how to handle the current surge of gun violence in the city. Except for Kenney and Outlaw to suggest that perhaps D.A. Krasner should start prosecuting people for illegally carrying guns. Instead of giving them a pass, like he does for so many other criminals.

But Will Bunch took offense to what I had to say.

"This column brazenly doesn't offer a single idea on how to stem rising gun violence," Bunch sternly rebuked me on Twitter.

Geez, Will, you not only expect me to expose problems but solve them too?

OK, so I proceeded to suggest [a] dumping Kenney and his Sanctuary City policies, [b] replacing Krasner with a D.A. who would actually put criminals in jail, and finally, [c] replacing the Inquirer with a newspaper that might actually report the news, instead of trying to remake society.

That prompted Bunchie to go all Progressive on me.

"I mean, these are just 'talk-radio' rant non-solutions, right?" Bunch shot back. "Krasner's not perfect or immune from criticism -- yeah, he could be a lot better dealing with victim families -- but he's trying to turn around a battleship of mass incarceration that's devastated communities and that's not easy (I know you don't care but . . .)"

And then suddenly, just like when he attacks Trump every day, the Inquirer's intrepid national opinion columnist seized the high moral ground.

First, Bunch accused me of not caring about the plight of immigrants; Oh please, say it isn't so! And then the Inquirer's national opinion columnist attacked me for journalistic hypocrisy!

"You talk so much about the power and integrity of journalism," Bunch sermonized, "but how can anyone take your journalism seriously when you've written NOT ONE WORD about the many, many black men wrongly imprisoned for murder by your hero, Lynne Abraham."

Oh, the humanity! Not only was I being accused of journalistic hypocrisy, but Bunch's searing indictment was also laced with the very real possibility that I might be -- shriek, shriek -- a racist!

Holy P.C. jackpot!

I decided the only way to respond was to congratulate Bunch for his raw courage: "Thank God you're standing up for the integrity of Journalism! And defining the litmus test for it. Now go back to ripping Trump."

Lynne Abraham left office ten years ago. The only time I covered Abraham as D.A. was back in 2002, when she sent out her detectives, armed with subpoenas, to storm the headquarters of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and seize their so-called "secret archives."

This was the truly secret archdiocese history of the sexual abuse of children  by its priests, more than 300 bulging case files and 45,000 pages of documents dating back to the 1940s. Yeah, I was down with that crusade. But I never wrote a book about Abraham.

Bunch then tried to defend the newspaper's coverage of Krasner.

"I honestly feel the straight news coverage has been balanced and sometimes hard on Krasner but that may reflect my more favorable views of his policies that you don't share," he wrote.

Sorry, Will, but politics aside, the Inky is ignoring the daily consequences of Krasner's deadly policies, as laid out in police and court records. We're talking facts, not opinions, Mr. National Opinion Columnist.

Online, I recounted some Big Trial scoops that involved criminals that Krasner has given a pass to. They include a two-time killer who got out of jail because of a $25 traffic ticket; a career burglar that Krasner dropped 27 new burglary cases against and made 184 new burglary charges disappear; and a Haitian immigrant here on a student visa that Krasner helped stay in the country, even though the Haitian beat and strangled his fiancé to the point where she passed out in a pool of her own urine.

There's also the story of the police detective who sued the D.A. in U.S. District Court, because Krasner tried to get the detective, who is black, to change his story about his investigation of an incident where a white cop shot a black man to death. The detective, who exonerated the cop, refused to change his story and the D.A. retaliated by threatening to arrest him.

All of this stuff, again, is laid out in police and court records, but every day, the Inky is willfully ignoring it.

"You guys aren't doing the job because you agree with his [Krasner's] politics," I wrote Bunch. "Right now, your newspaper is covering for Larry. And doing a better job of it than [alleged Krasner spokesperson] Jane Roh! Not how journalism is supposed to operate."

Sadly, this is what the Inky always does, play favorites. We don't like Abraham's tough on crime and queen of the death penalty policies, so let's send a team of reporters out to investigate her. But we do like Progressive Larry Krasner's Progressive policies, so let's lay off him, and ignore any story that might make him look bad.

We don't like Vince Fumo, so let's send out a team of reporters every year to investigate him. But we do like Ed Rendell, so let's ignore his womanizing, and his disastrous brainchild known as DROP, a boondoggle that to date has resulted in the squandering of more than $1.5 billion on extravagant and wasteful six-figure cash bonuses paid out to retiring city employees.

I actually wrote a book on Fumo that covered all this stuff.

At the Inky, playing favorites is a longstanding tradition. For example, if you donate millions to them, like the late Lew Katz and Gerry Lenfest did, they'll not only lionize you in print, but when you die, they'll canonize you, and send you off with a Viking funeral.

It's what they do.

I then brought up the reason why I was fired from the Inquirer 22 years ago. It involved a dispute over how the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and specifically the archbishop, should be covered.

Some ancient history here. Back in the early 1990s, the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua claimed the church was going broke -- feel free to laugh at that one -- and that's why the archbishop had to close 20 inner-city churches and schools located in predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods.

Some of the cardinal's in-house critics subsequently leaked documents that showed a secret and lavish spending spree by the archbishop. It turned out the at the same time he was closing those inner-city churches and schools because of a supposed lack of cash, His Eminence was secretly spending $5 million to renovate and redecorate church offices, a mansion that was his private residence, and a seaside villa that served as his vacation home.

I wanted to cover the cardinal like any hypocritical public official that I had the goods on -- blast him. But my editors were afraid to print the story. That's because, I subsequently learned during a lawsuit I filed against the Inquirer, that my bosses were being threatened with an economic boycott against the newspaper that would supposedly have been led from the pulpit by the cardinal himself.

At the time, my story got killed because the church's PR flacks successfully argued to my editors that the newspaper shouldn't cover the church the same way it covered City Hall. As one of the church flacks put it, the church deserved preferential treatment "inherently, because of who we are, that we are trying to serve the public good."

It was former Inquirer editor Gene Roberts who settled that issue for all time in 2001 when he told Editor & Publisher, "In the end, with all due respect to religion, you have to cover the church with the same philosophy with which you cover everybody else. You can't have one set of rules for the archdiocese and one set of rules for everybody else."

This is how to win a debate with a Progressive, by recapturing the high moral ground. Because I was quoting on Twitter Gene Roberts, the patron saint of the Inquirer, Bunchie had to knuckle under.

"I don't disagree -- without knowing the specifics -- that the issues you've blogged about should be looked into (although the Inquirer style, which you know well, would probably be a wider angle," he wrote.

Oh yes, that cerebral Inquirer, forever taking the wide angle on all the issues, compared to we narrow-minded mortals. Yeah, right, got it.

Actually, in this case the paper has taken a very narrow angle on Krasner -- we love Progressive Larry's politics, so let's give him a Rendell-sized lifetime pass.

"Anyway, keep watchdogging," Bunch wrote. "We can always use the extra set of eyes. I just won't always agree."

Then, he signed off with a smiley face. And went right back to ripping Trump.


  1. Ralph, you are spot on with your assessment of Willy Bunch. He is so narrow minded with his comments - he puts the fake in "fake news" He has yet to criticize Krasner, Kenney, Levine, or Wolf for their non-news conferences and lack of transparency. The next column he writes where he does not attack the President will be his first. I used to believe in newspapers but columnists like Bunch have ruined it for all. He has his agenda and does not let the facts ever get in the way

  2. There is still a narrow window to gloat and ridicule the City's Paper of Record before the "StInky" follows their partner in crime the LA Times who announced today a major furlough of Staff.

    Bunch would be the perfect flack for one of three jackasses holding on to their Offices.

    Readership and now advertisers finally have gotten wise to these lying jackals and its good riddance.

    Let's see how popular Bunch will be in another failed marketing ploy with the "newsletter."

  3. I can recall the frustration and obstruction to great Journalism during the Gene Roberts Era.

    Tony Lame, then City Hall Bureau Chief for the Inquirer, was provided clear and undisputed evidence of DA Emmett Fitzpatrick being corrupt and on the payroll of such Mob Capos as Frank 'Barracuda" Sindone.

    Fitzpatrick was of such a protected Political Class, that he allowed members of the Mob to procure high priced hookers for his most prurient tastes and sexual addictions.

    Gene Roberts would give the go ahead for such benign stories of Fitzpatrick charging the purchase of a Safari Suit on a City issued credit card as the grounds to replace him with Uncle Eddie Rendell.

    When Rendell followed Fitzpatrick in the Age of Womanizing by the Political Protected Class, he used Mob Associates Sam Rappaport and Jerry Blavat as his pimps.

    Sermonizing about the Inquirer's History of protecting DA's is am Encyclopedia of Deception and Delusion.

    There was direct evidence of the DA and his Chief of Staff Stanley " Apples' Apfelbaum benefiting and protecting various criminal activities which included Sports Betting, Racketeering, and ignoring Murders and Homicides.

    Gene Roberts directly and emphatically closed down investigations and publication of Political Corruption in the DA's Office and forced Tony Lame, not to sue the Inquirer and its Lionized Editor in Chief for defamation and other High Crimes, but to ceremoniously leave a once respected Paper and start the I-Team and create and investigate a new generation of reporting in the Media at KYW.

    As a footnote, Nobody ever charged Lynne Abraham with corruption, when it was common knowledge that she protected her Brother and his Associates, during her fabled Career in Law Enforcement as her Brother was a Successful Bookmaker who edged off to the Bruno/Scarfo Bank.

  4. It is my Prediction that Bunch or any of the Literary Fantasy Society of Radical Liberal Authors have partnered with disgraced Attorney Michael Cohen, former Counsel to the President, to partner in the Release Book of the most Damaging and Criminal Activities by Trump that will be corroborated by his Co-conspirator and Acting Attorney.

    Now the Justice System will be forced to exanmine charges unlike any ever made against an Incumbent President facing a Crisis previously unknown to Man.

    This Government might send this Country into a depression of Monumental Proportions, all in the Effort to Destroy Trump.


  5. Bunch is a one-string banjo; Trump, Trump, Trump. But on a more simplistic note, how do you become a journalist if you can't write a simple sentence? The man does not use periods and commas correctly. Try to read one of Bunch's run-on sentences aloud.... You will pass-out.

  6. Will Bunch. What a joke. Obtuse, to infinity. And that'd be a compliment compared to how I actually feel about that being.


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