The first of my minds is the one that has, in the past, experienced life inside a Boston newsroom. Reporters on a beat, if they have any dedication at all, will hear rumors and speculation swirling every day, and it is out of these rumors and speculation that the first whispers of a truly huge story will sometimes emerge. Reporters worth their salt will have a healthy sense of competition and a desire to be the first to pick real news out of that bubbling stew of information.
Editors, advertisers and marketers will know that a story published on the eve of the biggest sporting event in America will catch the attention of a national audience, which translates directly into money. They will understand the potential impact of their story on the franchise they're covering, but will also be anxious not to be seen to have buried a story on behalf of their subject, and therefore fall under the dread label, "homers."
Imagine if, once Matt Walsh was located, he actually did have a tape, and Tomase's story worked out. Tomase would have looked like a genius, and the Herald would've been SpyGate's answer to the Washington Post.
That glittering vision of the future must have been too much to resist. To paraphrase Chris Rock, I'm not saying they should've done it. But I understand.
Of course that doesn't mean the paper hasn't had to take its lumps for running the story. If your work can move a paper as generally set in its tabloid ways as the Herald to issue an apology, clearly you have done something wrong. As the Herald itself printed, "We should not have published the allegation in the absence of firmer verification."
I find it very difficult to believe the paper didn't fully comprehend and calculate the risk vs. notoriety reward before publishing. As for Tomase, at the end of the day, his byline is on the work. He stands or falls with it. Any journalist would love to break open SpyGate; that doesn't mean wishing enough for it will make a thinly sourced story stand up.
The trust of the Patriots readership in Tomase was clearly gone forever, so it was clear he had to be taken off the beat. Beyond that, this side of me acknowledges it takes being an insider to know all the facts that contributed to this decision to move him rather than let him go entirely.
As for Tomase himself, this side of me just hopes he makes the most out of his second chance (if it really is one - sometimes 'transfers' can quickly lead to 'seeking new opportunities').
But then, there's my second mind. The side of me that is a Patriots homer--and the side that saw the damage the story wrought firsthand.
The side that to this day can be set off onto a 25-minute rant about SpyGate and the way that story got blown completely out of proportion. The side that still remembers being on the bad side of what felt like the entire Internet over these allegations, just because the Patriots are my team.
The side that to this day sometimes needs that 25-minute rant, because she still sometimes encounters people who seem to believe the story about the Rams walkthrough (and worse) is true.
That side, the fan side, thinks Tomase's definitely getting off easy.