Rendell: From now on, no comment

Posted: February 20, 2012

UPDATE: Ed Rendell told the Daily News this weekend that he was done talking to the media about his plan to buy the Daily News, Inquirer and Philly.com, but he’s apparently made an exception for Buzz Bissinger. Bissinger interviewed Rendell Monday morning, and the interview will air around 4 p.m. on Talk Radio 1210WPHT. Bissinger is hosting the show for Michael Smerconish, who is on vacation.

ED RENDELL is mad as hell, and he's not going to talk about it anymore!

The loquacious former governor vowed Saturday night to give the media the silent treatment from now on, following a week's worth of news articles, columns and blog posts that criticized his efforts to lead a group of investors who want to buy Philadelphia Media Network, the parent company of the Daily News, Inquirer, Philly.com and SportsWeek.

"I'm not going to talk to anybody any more. I'm done," Rendell told the People's Paper. "You're going to have to waterboard me to get me to say anything."

(It was unclear, as of press time, whether the blog Politico had indeed tortured Rendell for comments that he made yesterday to the website about his continued interest in the company.)

Rendell is no stranger to criticism, but he seemed genuinely bothered by the heat he's taken for wanting to own PMN, whose hedge-fund owners recently decided they wanted to sell.

"Look," he said, "we're trying to save the company."

Two pieces of media coverage seemed to tick him off: a New York Times story last week that examined some of the controversy around the sale of PMN, and a blog post Saturday by local writer Laura Goldman, who claimed that Rendell told her that his group won't buy the newspapers and their website after all.

The Times story focused on several attempts by PMN's current management to interfere with its coverage of the sale, and questioned whether Rendell and his other investors, including George Norcross, the influential New Jersey Democrat, would meddle with the papers as owners.

But the article also referred to an incident in 1994 when then-Mayor Rendell wrapped his hands around the neck of Inquirer reporter Amy Rosenberg during a heated interview. That mention made him see red.

"Tell me what Amy Rosenberg has to do with [the sale]," Rendell said, as his voice rose. "That was totally gratuitous."

Goldman on Saturday wrote on her blog Naked Philadelphian that Rendell told her, "I don't think that we will [be] buying," when she bumped into him and asked about his pursuit of the news-media company.

Rendell said that he didn't know Goldman was a reporter and that he didn't know the quote - which he described as an offhand remark - would end up on a blog.

He also said his investor group is still pursuing PMN.

"I said, 'Gee, I don't know. It's not a sure thing by any means. It probably won't happen,' " Rendell said of his encounter with Goldman. "That's just what I say to ordinary folks when I don't want to have an extended conversation about what will happen. It had absolutely no meaning."

Goldman, however, said she has known Rendell for 30 years.

She noted that she had interviewed him several times in the past, including when he finished his final term as governor.

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