Last week, we wrote about friction at the top of AOL.The post prompted a reader identifying himself as “Carl Tucker,” who is the CEO of an AOL Patch competitor named Main Street Connect, to say that AOL should have invested in a local news model that works, like Tucker’s, instead of Patch, AOL’s money-losing network of local news sites.
And that comment, in turn, prompted another reader–one going by the name of “Warren Webster,” who is the President of AOL’s Patch–to politely explain that Patch was doing just fine and that Carl Tucker had no idea what s/he was talking about.
Then, this morning, AOL’s Patch PR team reached out to us to say that Warren Webster had not written the comment defending Patch.
Well, we have a no-impersonators policy here, so we deleted it.
But now journalism guru Jim Romenesko says that some of his commenters think that Warren Webster did, in fact, write that comment and that AOL PR got us to delete it under false pretenses. Mr. Romenesko says the commenters want us to check our IP logs to test this story.
We’re not going to do that because we think it would be an invasion of privacy. But upon re-reading the comment, we did scratch our heads wondering why someone would so articulately pretend to be Mr. Webster and say the things “Mr. Webster” said in defence of Patch, especially given that the reader who provoked the defence appears to be a competitor’s CEO.
The comment “Warren Webster” left just doesn’t read “fake.” It’s a reasonable, articulate, gracious defence–the kind a CEO who believed in his company might well make.
So, we figured we’d just ask AOL again, just to make sure.
Did Warren Webster–or anyone acting on behalf of Patch or AOL in the name of Warren Webster–write that comment that we deleted this morning?
Or does Patch just have a secret admirer out there who gets offended by scepticism and then articulately defends the company whenever a competitor attacks it?