Bent stylus or normal? ~5-10 degrees off horizontal when looking directly from the front

Hi all,

My right channel has been making occasional cracking, so after checking all the wires, tracking force, anti-skate, etc. the only thing left was the 2-week old Shure M97eX cartridge I installed (alignment is dead on). I took the headshell off with the cartridge and notice the little metal housing the stylus needle is embedded on sits at a slight angle. Looking directly from the front it looks like the left side of tilted up just a little higher, meaning the needle itself points to almost 7:00 instead of 6:00 (straight down).

is this the design, or is bent?

Cantilever is the part I was trying describe (the metal thing extending out from the cartridge that holds the stylus, clearly I'm still learning haha).

Anyways, it looks like the 'cantilever', which rests in a V shape grove exiting the cartridge housing, isn't perfectly in the V. It's out of the groove a fraction of a mm up towards the right, and slightly twisted so the stylus points more left rather than perfectly down/vertical.

The twist is minor yet noticable, the cantilever being out of the V groove is even less so, with a magnifying glass I could barely see it...

is is this normal, or is it bent? If it is bent, can I simply try to carefully twist the cantilever to make the stylus vertical?
You will need to change stylus. The cantilever suspension is probably damaged if not destroyed.

Just read Yogiboys suggestion on a different thread suggesting swapping the left/right channel tubes. Gave that a shot, no change unfortunately. 

should I swap the left and right channel on the actual cartridge to see if that does anything, or are the visual signs of the stylus I described enough to say that is the culprit?
Just found another forum where someone posted a fantastic photo of their Shure M97xE from the front. It looks IDENTICAL to mine. Scroll down the page about 75% of the way. He overlayed blue lines on the image and calculated the degrees it was off to be about 3.6.

check it out:
hockey -
Based on that VinylEngine thread (great thread, by the way) I assume you are returning the Shure?

If you haven't yet, It would probably be help to reverse leads from your TT and see if the crackling moves to the other channel.

Also, do you have any kind of test record?  Maybe check L&R channel balance.  Overall tracking etc.  

Good luck.
Thanks for the input, I actually just submitted a return request on Amazon a minute ago. Unfortunately I don't have a test record, I did at least check the test tones running through my computer (to emotiva dac-->Cary preamp) and those sounded the same (not that useful really) and the decibels were within 1 of each other measuring with an app on my phone. 

Ill try reversing the left right channels (and their respective grounds) on the back of the cartridge and see what happens