The San Jose Mercury News advanced the story about the coming consolidation of the Chronicle and Examiner last month, attributing to "sources familiar with the discussions" that key owners of the Chronicle were no longer opposed to ceding control of the monopoly daily to the Hearst Corp.'s Examiner. "The four corners of a deal have been reached, but it's so fragile it could still fall apart," the Merc's inside source said in a story published March 22. "But there's no question things have heated up big time, and it's getting real close here." As outlined by Merc reporter Miranda Ewell, the Hearst Corp. would shutter the Examiner and run a jointly owned morning paper called the Chronicle. "I am not against doing a deal with Hearst, but if Hearst wants control of the Chronicle, they should pay for it," a member of the de Young family, which owns the Chronicle, told Ewell. Under the terms of the purported deal, the de Young family would own up to 65 percent of the paper under a new joint operating agreement, but the Hearst Corp. would control the publication. ... HotWired Managing Editor Chip Bayers says that the reaction to the Time magazine parody he wrote in the April Wired is making him feel like Orson Welles after the broadcast of The War of the Worlds. Titled "The Great Web Wipeout," the parody caused Bayers' e-mail address to boil over with correspondence from folks who said that he had gotten his facts about the Web wrong, or protesting that they couldn't find the "Web Congestion Report" that the piece "cited." "Certain people do think it's a real Time story," Bayers reports. "Copies of it are even being faxed around by people believing the same." Only after he e-mails the gullible a reply asking them to inspect the article's date -- Jan. 27, 1997 -- do they get it. ... It was a fine week for political consultant Jack Davis, who not only swept the polls with the ballpark proposition he spearheaded but swept the Friday (March 29) dailies with his malarkey. First, the usually sentient Katherine Seligman contributed a flattering nothingburger of a Metro piece in the Examiner that reiterated what everybody already knows: that Davis can be a bully, holds grudges, knows how to run campaigns, beat Art Agnos with Frank Jordan, and beat Frank Jordan with Willie Brown. The breaking news in the piece? Davis intends to take a month off now. But Seligman's vacancy was preferable to Matier and Ross occupancy. The two-fisted gossipers devoted their entire Friday column to the polishing of Davis' rocket, printing this unbelievable bit of horseshit: "[I]t was Davis' concern over [Giants owner] Magowan's over-honesty that led to Davis' infamous 'white supremacy' crack. Everyone thought Davis has [sic] gone batty when he walked out of a Giants press conference one afternoon and started calling a small group of ballpark protesters 'white supremacists.' The fact is, Davis was trying to divert attention from owner Magowan spilling the beans on how much more tickets would cost at the new ballpark." The fact is? Or in Jack Davis' revisionist history? ... Seeing as the election to the Democratic County Central Committee is as much a name-recognition exercise as anything, Warren Hinckle's showing in the March 26 election -- he missed winning a seat by less than a thousand votes -- indicates that his negatives are stronger than his positives.