A Royal Pain

Philly mag's scathing profile of Howard Eskin has set the talk-show "king" reeling.

By Jonathan Valania
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Feb. 5, 2003

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In the new issue of Philadelphia magazine, writer Christopher McDougall delivers a devastating X-ray of WIP Big Talker Howard Eskin. In the story, McDougall uncovers new details in the grisly five-year-old murder case of Marlene Stumpf, a 47-year-old Pottstown woman "stabbed more times than the coroner could count" by her husband after he discovered a dozen roses Eskin had sent her. According to police, the late Stumpf liked to go online and pose as a 25-year-old Penn State University cheerleader named "Brandice."

"Hope to get to know you better" read Eskin's note accompanying the flowers.

In the aftermath of the crime, Eskin, married with five children, maintained that he was merely trying to cheer up an online friend. And because Stumpf's husband pled guilty, thus eliminating the need for a trial, emails between Eskin--aka "THEKING610"--and "Brandice," later retrieved from Stumpf's computer by police experts, were never made public--until now. The story also goes on to dish plenty of dirt, including the 50-year-old Eskin's involvement with Andrea Langi, the 27-year-old ex-Eagles cheerleader/aspiring starlet he escorted to the Super Bowl.

When PW invited Eskin to respond to the story, he refused to answer any questions, but provided the following statement: "The piece is full of lies, half-truths and innuendo. I believe the record should show that the Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday magazine cover story was a fair and balanced story on myself; that was fairness. On the other hand, it has become obvious that Philadelphia magazine has not changed from the clutter of ads, little regard for factual accuracy and an agenda of personal attacks. That is why many do not and will not talk to that magazine, which continues to lose circulation monthly, and that is a fact."

(The Inquirer story Eskin refers to is David Hiltbrand's soft-focus feature that ran Jan. 12. According to sources inside the paper, the story elicited howls of protest from the sports department for the contempt heaped on Inky sports beat writers as well as the kid-gloves treatment afforded Eskin.)

Responding to Eskin's statement, Philadelphia magazine editor Larry Platt says the following: "First of all, circulation is at an all-time high--141,000. Howard knows that I bent over backwards to make the story fair because I took some things out of the story after he begged me to, citing the damage they would cause his family. I had five phone conversations with Howard and innumerable email exchanges to make sure everything in the story was fair and in context. Chris McDougall was actually sympathetic to Howard in his analysis, but he was unflinching in his reporting of the facts, and the facts lead where they lead. That's just good journalism. Howard is attacking the messenger instead of taking responsibility for his actions."

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1. WalterBailey said... on Jan 14, 2009 at 08:17AM

“I would not be shocked to hear Howard Eskin was more involved with the Murder of this poor woman. Infact, I would not be shocked to hear that he was reason behind the super high murder rate in Philadelphia. Eskin is a great guy but he seems to enjoy killing too much.”


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