Dear Sean Spicer:

I have no idea whether you or Alex Lombard are telling the truth about a racial incident that may or may not have happened at the Portsmouth Abbey in 1987.

If Lombard is lying, that is a nasty accusation. If you are lying, then why not come clean and apologize?

What damages your credibility is to conjure up a story that The Newport Daily News set up the Lombard incident during your book signing at Barnes & Noble in Middletown two weeks ago.

I'd put down $1,000 right now to say that neither Scott Barrett nor Sean Flynn manufactured this news. I worked with each of them for years and have great faith in their integrity.

I'd love to sit all three of you down at a polygraph machine to see who makes the machine go haywire.

You have noticed that newspapers are struggling. Your ex-boss takes great glee in this. So, a small news staff labors to report the news day after day in the face of cutbacks and changing reader habits. And there's no time for creating shock theater scenes involving minor celebs, nor is there the inclination. It's not what most news outlets do.

This is not The National Enquirer or Alex Jones (who thinks the shootings at Sandy Hook were fake), both popular with President Trump.

To denigrate the reputations of two men merely doing their jobs, minus any verifiable facts and from a safe distance is cowardly.

I was ready to write off the N-word accusation. Two weeks later, in light of your fantasy about set-up news, I'm less sure.

Good luck with your book. And please stick to the facts when lobbing conspiracy theories. Or just save it for Alex Jones.

 

ODDZNENDZ: Farewell to Newport Daily News staffers who moved on last week after taking optional buyouts. Gone are Middletown reporter Matt Sheley, sportswriter Josh Krueger and photographer David Hansen.

Matt developed many sources in Middletown and little got by him. I recall Josh's excellent work covering Ryan Westmoreland.

I worked most closely with Dave. A couple of projects come to mind. In 1997, we spent much of the summer with the folks from Shake-A-Leg, as it was known then, and telling their stories.

And in 1996, Dave and I stayed up all night to document third-shift workers, who toil while most are asleep — it was a fun project.

Dave's photos enhanced whatever story I was writing.

He joins a terrific alumni association of Daily News photographers, including Jacqueline Marque, Jeff Sauger and Kathryn Whitney Lucey.

• Mea culpa. A few weeks ago I referred to the Portsmouth High School football program as scandal-plagued. That was a bit harsh, since we've seen just one documented scandal.

Good luck to the new staff taking the reins.

• R.I.P: Loretta Condon.

• I knew this would happen: In Newport Jazz Festival thank yous last week, I left out Tim Tobin, Deborah Ross and Jill Davidson.

• And before I forget, Burt Jagolinzer's jazz fest iron man streak endures.

A Cranston resident, Jagolinzer, 80, has attended 60 Newport Jazz Festivals ... including the 10 years the festival became Newport-in-New York.

His love of jazz keeps him showing up, even on a 90 degree day like last Sunday.

• NESN, the Red Sox network, will run a piece on Westmoreland next Thursday at 6:30 p.m., and my DVR will be ready.

 

Jim Gillis is a Daily News columnist. Send him email at jimgillis13@gmail.com.