“Like to confirm or squelch a rumor?” we asked Ian Brennan, a spokesman for mayors Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Sheila Dixon, by email yesterday.
Amid reporting by The Brew that Brennan is moving to a $92,000-a-year job as the Fire Department’s PIO – and that he is a civilian unlike his predecessor PIOs – the Internet was humming.
Rumors that Brennan is related to Gov. Martin O’Malley surfaced on Facebook and Twitter. So I sent a sample to Brennan via email.
“Why don’t you call him what he really is. O’Malley’s cousin. That’s why he got the job” read the Tweet I sent over to let him know what was being said. I told Brennan it was from @thorrocks5 whose Twitter profile says “Terry Horrocks.” Google his name and Baltimore, and you get “captain at Baltimore City Fire Department.”
So a Rumor is Out There
If it’s false, I thought, I could put a stake in the heart of it by simply asking Brennan and hearing it from him. If it’s true, Brennan could tell me, I could report it and the public could make its own judgment as to whether it’s important. (I told Brennan all I wanted to do was reply on Twitter to thorrocks and say, “No, Brennan says it ain’t so.” End of story.)
If that wasn’t the case – say, if Brennan turns out to be O’Malley’s third cousin twice removed – I doubt the public at large would get too worked up.
Compare that to some of the other cozy connections we’ve been uncovering in The Brew, such as the one we reported today, that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake officiated at the Vegas wedding of City Hall’s two top lobbyists.
(Considering that the Baltimore Afro-American was allowed to publish a picture of them posing together all glammed up – that is, the mayor, the lobbyist in her wedding gown, a state senator, the governor’s appointments secretary and the daughter of the Maryland Secretary of State – nobody’s too worried about appearances around here.)
Anyway, thinking I could clear up this other matter, I put it to Brennan straight up: “So, are you related to the governor? Is it true?”
What Brennan Did Say
After pressing me about asking a question based on one anonymous comment (and hearing back that it was more than one and that the Tweet was not anonymous), he had this answer:
“I can confirm that the Governor is not my cousin.”
Here was my email reply:
“Thanks. My question to you, though, was ‘Are you related to the governor?’ Unless you clarify, your answer leaves open the possibility that you are related in some other way.”
But he was not going to clarify.
So you are saying that unless I submit a blood sample, you will leave the door open to endless baseless internet speculation. . . Are you asking if the Governor and I have a connection, either by blood or by marriage?
We are trying to move the conversation past ‘baseless Internet speculation’ and giving you the opportunity to help with that. Am I asking if the Governor and you ‘have a connection, either by blood or by marriage’? Yes indeed that was what was meant by ‘are you related to the governor?’ So yes that is my question. Your answer?
Today you ask me to prove one negative, tomorrow it will be another.
Back and forth it went, without any answer from the new Fire Department spokesman, until he went email silent late yesterday afternoon.
So is Ian Brennan related to Gov. O’Malley?
I’d bet not. But why, I wonder, won’t he just say so?