Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mayor's press aide accused of dirty tricks

It's no secret that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom doesn't like KGO ABC7 reporter Dan Noyes. But now the mayor's press secretary, Peter Ragone, apparently been caught using phony names online to attack Noyes and defend Newsom on the popular SFist.com blog and the TV station's Web site. Ragone (seen above talking to Noyes last year) denies the allegations.

SFist editor Jon Shurkin told ABC7 that he was excited when Ragone began posting comments under his own name. But then, when a "John Nelson" began posting comments that attacked those who criticized Newsom, Shurkin got suspicious and compared Nelson's IP address with Ragone's. They were exactly the same, which suggests that it is likely they were using the same computer. ABC7 checked some of the critical comments posted on Noyes blog and found the same similarities.

Ragone then said that Nelson is a friend who stays at his house. But Ragone won't let anyone talk to Nelson and Noyes said his I-Team called every John Nelson they could find and none of them admitted being Ragone's friend.

Apparently Ragone's computer was used to post under other names including "Jonell" and "Byorn."

Will Ragone lose his job? It's a good bet Newsom won't be discussing that with Noyes, but Supervisor Aaron Peskin says he wouldn't keep Ragone on the payroll. And former Mayor Willie Brown was quoted by ABC7 as saying, "It raises serious questions about (Peter Ragone's) credibility and effectiveness. ... As a journalist, how can you believe what he says?"

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