Murray Waas Against the World A National Journal reporter has fashioned a reputation among his peers: He's a tough act to follow.

Page 1 of 11
Photograph by Keith Shimada

Murray Waas was sure he had saved Bill Clinton’s presidency.

In the fall of 1998, Waas met with his friend and colleague Jonathan Broder for lunch at an Italian restaurant in Dupont Circle. The two had worked together for the online magazine Salon, covering the various scandals consuming the White House.

The conversation turned to the famous report recently released by Ken Starr. All of Washington reveled in its exhaustive recounting of Clinton’s infamous affair with Monica Lewinsky (Leaves of Grass, blue dress, cigar). Waas, though, homed in on what was missing from the independent counsel’s report.

There were no impeachable offenses cited in connection with that allegedly shady land deal known as Whitewater, a Waas obsession. For much of that year, he and Broder had written stories for Salon shredding the notion of a Whitewater conspiracy. And because of those stories, Waas now was telling Broder, Starr couldn’t accuse Clinton of anything more than lying about a blowjob.

“Murray was convinced that it was those stories we did,” Broder recalls, “it was those stories that ruined Starr’s case.”

advertisement

Broder tried to put Waas in his place: “I said, ‘You remind me of an ant floating down the river on his back with a hard-on, yelling, ‘Raise the drawbridge.’”

Waas laughed for a moment. And then he continued to press his case. “He was proud,” Broder says. “He genuinely believed what he was saying.…I’m sure he wants to feel his stuff has meaning. It’s his identity.”

For most of his career, Waas has forged that identity from a home office, surrounded by piles of papers, subsisting on one low-paying freelance assignment after another. It’s not an easy way to make a living, but Waas enjoyed some success, collecting bylines from the Los Angeles Times, the New Yorker, the Village Voice, the Boston Globe, and many other publications, including this one.

And lately, Waas’ star has been on the rise. The outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame—a Bush administration scandal tied closely to pre-Iraq war intelligence failures—gave him more than a year’s worth of juicy material, and the rise of online political journalism has given him a national profile.

In early 2006, he became a staff correspondent at the National Journal, a stodgy policy-oriented weekly with credibility to spare inside the Beltway. One of Waas’ pieces for the Journal, on leaks of classified information, “pretty much crashed” the magazine’s Web site, according to editor Charles Green. After that, Green began notifying his techies whenever a Waas piece was in the queue so that National Journal could purchase additional server capacity.

In March 2006 columnist Dan Froomkin, author of a Washingtonpost.com blog called “White House Watch,” shined the spotlight on Waas in a column titled “A Compelling Story.” He wrote: “Slowly but surely, investigative reporter Murray Waas has been putting together a compelling narrative about how President Bush and his top aides contrived their bogus case for war in Iraq; how they succeeded in keeping charges of deception from becoming a major issue in the 2004 election; and how they continue to keep most of the press off the trail to this day.”

That April, New York University professor and journalism pundit Jay Rosen declared that “Murray Waas is Our Woodward Now.” That same month, the Post’s Howard Kurtz wrote that Waas is finally “getting his day in the sun.” US News & World Report echoed the sentiment in a fawning piece titled “A Muckraker’s Day in the Sun.” New Yorker investigative legend Seymour Hersh told us in an interview, “He’s every bit as good as everybody else in the business, if not better.”

Last June, Waas arrived at Yearly Kos, a Las Vegas bloggers’ convention, to a hero’s welcome. At 47, he was the veteran reporter preaching to an audience eager for conspiracy babble. “The question that I think journalism faces, the question that I think the panel faces, and the question I think you all face is, Are some stories not even going to get covered at all?” Waas asked the packed room. “And what are you not being told? And what do you not even know you’re not being told?”

“Let’s try and reclaim our media,” he concluded.

Yet there’s a hole in the story of Waas’ ascent to heroism. Froomkin mentioned it in the column that arguably started the bandwagon rolling, concluding, “Waas’ fellow reporters at major news operations should either acknowledge and try to follow up his stories—or debunk them. It’s not okay to just leave them hanging out there. They’re too important.”

Whether Froomkin knows it or not, many major news operations do vet Waas’ pieces. “We look at them to see if there’s new information and see if the new information is of a nature that we want to write about it ourselves,” says Philip Taubman, former Washington bureau chief for the New York Times. But the majors aren’t often able to advance Waas’ reporting. A shared experience among Washington correspondents is following up a Waas story and coming away empty-handed.

Perhaps Waas has simply developed sources and unearthed scoops that his competitors have never been able to get. But there’s another way to look at it—namely, that many of Waas’ stories fail to pan out, and many offer less than meets the eye.

The weakness shows up as early as 1983, when Waas wrote that the apartheid regime in South Africa had obtained a secret interest in the Washington Times; it continues through the early ’90s, when Waas co-wrote an investigative series critical of the first Bush administration’s Iraq policy, a body of work that time has treated poorly; it surfaces, too, in Waas’ overreaching coverage of the Whitewater case; and it carries through to his more recent work on the Bush administration’s march to war, which on close analysis seems to consist largely of recycled facts gussied up with dubious news pegs.

Editor’s Note: Months ago, when this article was still a draft, it got Washington City Paper and its staff nominated as finalists for “Worst People of 2006” by Daily Kos. Our subject, Murray Waas, has complained publicly and privately that the authors are prejudiced against him, are incapable of writing fairly and accurately about him, and have acted unprofessionally and unethically in gathering their material. He has also disputed many of the facts presented in the article.

Our Readers Say

Thanks for helping make us all be better media consumers.
i'm used to interesting, well-researched pieces from the city paper, usually about the "little guy", and i look forward to reading the paper. however, today, i'm struck by what an appalling slam job this "murray waas against the world" is! murray waas may not be perfect (who among us is?) but he's clearly a better journalist than the "writers" who fashioned this lengthy, supposedly cover-worthy example of character assassination. waas, even wemple and cherkis admit, is after the bad guys, high crimes, that sort of things. so, i ask myself-- where's the get? or to quote wemple and cherkis, "what's the news here?". and seriously, how many of us have acrimonious landlord stories in our past? puh-lease.

what's up, guys? did murray waas park in your space or something?
I'm no journalist, but isn't this just completely one sided?
Great job guys, this type of attribution and sourcing is what investigative reporting is REALLY about.
Given that this piece is based on the kind of inuendo and loose research that the authors accuse Waas of using, it could have been a good bit of satire. Instead it's just rather sad. Take out all the he said, she said and there's not much to it - other than thousands of word, billions of pixels and lots of dead trees. The fact that the middle is dedicated to a lengthy recount of Waas's bad relations with neighbors who seem as screwy as him suggests that this piece was not intended to present much in the way of useful information, rather - like those pictures that made the news the other day - it's a ponderously moving trawler churning up a vast amount of mud in its wake.

I know a lot of investigative reporters and many are not fit for polite society. Unfortunately the entire point of this piece seems to be that Waas would not in well in DC's polite media society - the one where reporters and the government officials they should be objectively covering share laughs at banquets headlined by Rich Little. It is obvious that Waas's talents are best-used in conjunction with a skeptical - and thick-skinned - editor. But then couldn't that be said about us all.

(And echoing the poster above: did he park in your space?)
So what?
I agree that the story is a little inside-baseball for my taste. But it is well reported news. Much more so because Waas apparently decided the appropriate response to his paranoid anticipation of a local rag story was to go national with a manipulative smear campaign.
Another one of Erik Wemple's classic personal vendettas played out in the pages of the "city paper." Whereas Waas goes after the bad guys, Wemple just goes after!

Note to all: Never get on the bad side of Erik's wife.
I'd say this is sour grapes, but actually doubt that the authors aspire to take on the rich and powerful. Why trouble themselves when a chronically broke but gifted reporter is easier game? Pathetic.
Lay off Waas. His stories may not be 100% accurate but he cares about the truth. You guys must be working for Karl Rove and those other smear artists. Waas challenges reporters to do more reporting but they don't have the guts or aren't as clever as he. We're living in a fascist country. Murraay Waas knows this and is trying to do something about it.
You don't do yourself any favors. Start with your opening scene: you didn't witness this and it's a recreation presumably based on Broder's view. You don't even explain that.

Talk about hearsay. "Murray Waas was sure he had saved Bill Clinton's presidency." How do you know?

What happened to CityPaper's rigorous copyeditor?
Who the hell is Murray Waas, and why on earth do we need to read a million-word story about his career and personal life?

The writers and editors of this piece are even dumb enough to ask about the newsworthiness of some of Wass's pieces without recognizing the irony.

What a pointless, petty exercise of "journalism." Such a gross error in news judgment and the overall personally vindictive tone of the piece should be firable offenses for both writers and any other editors who approved such a waste of resources and typeset.
I almost admire you guys for having the stones to print a character assassination piece on an investigative journalist which itself employs such minimal investigative journalism skills.

You write:

“'Murray did feel that way sometimes—­people plotting against him,' he recalls."

And:

"'Murray thinks everybody is talking about him,' says the staffer."

Ummm... judging from this story, looks like Murray may have a point, eh?
A new low for the City Paper.

This says it all: "When asked about his pursuit of Boo, Waas responded that Washington City Paper has a conflict of interest in writing about the matter. He told Editor Erik Wemple: “I think your wife has some personal involvement there.…She’s your wife’s best friend.” Wemple’s wife, Stephanie Mencimer, is a close friend of Boo’s, and Boo is a former employee of City Paper."
Pathetic. Check out Waas' side of the story at ... http://www.huffingtonpost.com/murray-waas/the-wag-time-pet-spa-cons_b_36927.html

Wemple is a complete loon. I'm done with this rag.
this is one of the most bizarre pieces of journalism ive encountered. at first i thought muckraking the muckracker might be an interesting exercise of journalistic parody, but all they come up with is rehashed criticism of stories waas wrote 10, 15 and 20 years ago and anecdotes from former neighbors and landlords.

was it worth 10,000+ words? even more bizarre is the online piece from these guys' boss, who complains incessantly about waas' refusal to cooperate with the hit piece they were planning. you started a pissing match with a crackpot and he didnt want to play along - imagine that.

never thought much of the city paper, and this does nothing to raise my estimation.
Instead of using all this ink to point out someone is a troubled guy who has written some iffy pieces, why not talk about how he reports and why it sometimes hits and sometimes misses? All this on Waas and I have no idea how he gets information, except that it involves a lot of paper and phone calls.

This seems like it could have been a nuanced prolife instead of a prosecution.
What a strange piece. Somewhere in there, after the part where Ahab boards the ship but before Anna gets off the train, I think I might have read a few valuable lines about how Murray Waas plays a little loose with the facts. But I forget.
Petty, petty, petty. The City Paper wasting trees to trash some poor guy whose worst offense seems to be a fight with his landlord (told in gushing, oh-my-god, purple prose). Whitewater? The Gulf War 1? How old are those stories. Hey Erik Wemple, why don't you take to task the journalists who missed that other, more recent, big news story: Um, IRAQ?

The fact that Seymour Hersh backs up Waas is enough for me to like the guy and feel like the DC press corp needs more Waas-like reporters.

what they need less of is petty, personal vendettas, and clearly given the mention of Erik Wemple and his wife, that's what this story was really about.
Your article about Murray Waas is astonishing.

I'm struck by the number of times your criticism of his journalism is not supported by the examples you give. Apparently you think everything is evidence against Waas.

The same goes for your dismissal of specific articles he has written on grounds that they contain nothing new. Not only do you miss what's new (which is there in your example) but you miss the point. Waas' shtick has generally not been to disclose some entirely new subject but to focus with immense persistence on stories the rest of the press has glossed over; and to dig out a great deal more information and significance. Surely a crusading alternative weekly like the City Paper sees the value of such journalism and would not attack those who practice it, even if they are eccentric, for no good reason.

Which brings us to the guts of your article, which is the long series of unflattering stories about Waas' private life. All these are told with such lack of sympathy and so little context (a hint of which appears, damagingly to your reporting, in your Chicago editor's sidebar) that it is hard to know which are simple misrepresentation.

The genesis of this article was improper: the wife of one of your reporters is a close friend of a woman with whom Waas was having a dispute. And once you got going you didn't know where to stop. Perhaps you have brought some discredit to Waas. You have certainly brought it to the City Paper.
Incredible story! Especially the back and forth concerning Murray's very clear strategy to use the blogosphere to smere the City Paper, etc. The Huffington Post, Wonkette,Daily Kos, etc. I hope they have read your stories here. I would expect an apology for the kinda of bullshit they let Murray Waas post on their sites. If blogs are to become respected and a real part of the media they better stop being used as rumor mills.

Murray Waas is an asshole, plain and simple. Worse still is he seems to be a creepy stalker of almost anyone who gets in his way: landlord, neighorhood, female reporter, former employer, etc.

Lastly, its seems from the very well written piece by Wemple's boss that the City Paper went way above normal procedures in hearing this guy out. After all those emails and phone calls, Waas never substantiated many of his libelous claims. Lanny Davis should be ashamed of himself for getting in the middle of this without at least hearing the tapes Murray supposed has on hand but never delivers.
This was not journalism but rather "journalism" dressed up like a stalking.

All we get out of this article is tht Erk Wemple and Jason Cherkis are obsessed with Murray Waas. 21,000+ words for them to say that they don't like Murray Waas, that Erik's wife hates Murray Waas, and that their friend Kate Boo hates him.

Jeez... I don't want to ever get on their bad side.

It's ironic that they haate blogs and blogger-- for supposedly not caring about the facts or having some personal agenda.

They can hate Murray Waas all they like. But they shoiuld get a blog, or toilet paper his house, or whaever else, but a newspaper-- even a stupid rag which nobody reads-- shouldn't be used this way.

Get a blog guys!
Does anyone remember a Jason Cherksi story about a landlord/tenent lawyer? She accussed him of making up quotes-- which the CP ain't even shy about. and like Waas, when she did, they went after her too.

Complain about their makign up quotes, or harrassing you, and then they go after the people who complain-- with innuendo, anonymous quotes, and who knows wtf else!
Obsessed with Murray Waas... it appears as if Murray Waas was obsessed with them... and that is his MO: he is a stalker... geez, I'd be pissed if i got threatening phone calls from Murray Waas, etc. no one in these comments wants to pay attention to the painful truth:

Murray Waas is an overrated reporter who gussies up and rehashes old stories or simply fabricates stories altogether.

There also seems to be a critique of the city paper for outing one of their fellow journalists as a pretty shoddy reporter and creep. For one, their is and has been for some time a useful discussion among the media about the media from the Washington Post to CNN to the New York Times ... these news outlets report about how the media is covering a story. This has become an important part of the news. So for folks commenting on how this is not a story is ridiculous, Waas is an over-sized reporter who has covered some of the biggest stories in the last 15 years... it is completely relevant to critique those stories and share that with the public.
Upon a first reading of this, you kinda thing that these people deserve on another. I only know Waas from reading him, first in the Village Voice, and more recently, in diff. mags, and have been a fan. And this article did make him out to be "conspiratorial" and a little paranoid until the authors themselves do themselves in:

1-- They did yell and scream and abuse Waas, by their own admission. And one wonders if they would have admitted that if he didn't hire a lawyer, and make the tapes, and send them to their boss. The boss sounds like a real A-hole, too-- self obsessed in the same way that his reporters ar e obsessed with their subject.

2-- Then, a few thousand or more words into the story, they fess up to the fac that Waas' main accuser in the article is Erik Wemple's and his wife's friend and even a bridesmaid at their wedding. That would seem a conflict, no? One wouldn't have to be paranoid to be concerned about that.

3-- And the subject's recalitrance to co-operate. Well, one only has to read the 21,000 words and make up their own mind. It is al about the guy's private life because they don't have much on your journalism.

I'll keep the City Paper for my bird cage, but still continue to read Waas.
You are wrong to suggest and many who have commented here have harped on this point, that the sole reason for writing this story is because of Kate Boo and her relationship with Wemple and Mencimer.

How about the fact that many of Murray's conspiracies have had very little to do with facts and that he has produced some pretty awful journalism...

Secondly, Murray's paranoia and deranged behavior that he has practiced on anyone in his path from folks at Salon and the Washington Post to the City Paper is indicative of his journalism: paranoid, deranged and filled with slander.

That fact that he can whip up the idiotic blogsphere to print his bullshit does not make him a hero or a good journalism... just another media savvy ranter on par with other scum that opinionate daily on tv, radio, blogs, etc.

I am shocked at how way off the mark blogs get to be and then crow about how they are new journalism... you don't get to be credible printing half-baked slander from Murray Waas, no matter how many hits your site might get. I was truly shocked at the willingness of the Huffington Post and Wonkette to play PR for Murray Waas's attack on the City Paper.

No one in this comment section has the audacity to challenge anything in the story so they do what Murray does best... take a bit of innuendo (ala Wemple's relationship with Boo) and weave a tapestry of conspiracy in which everyone is out to get Murray Waas. That is exactly what Murray wants you to believe... that the City Paper, Washington Post, Salon, LA Times, and every other landlord, neighbor, in his orbit is out to get him.

Both Cherkis and Wemple are award winning journalist with long careers at the City Paper. Cherkis for one is not shy about taking on the tough stories... I suggest you read his "Hog Tied" story in which he exposed police abuse during anti-globalization protests...

I suggest folks that want to comment on this story and think of it in a negative light... address the facts of the story not the innuendo conjured up by conspiracy minded bloggers and Murray Waas.
Were you an author or contributor on this article, JINX? Pull your panties out of your crack and MOVE ON with your life.
I did not contribute to this article, in fact I had no idea who Murray Waas was until reading Daily Kos/Wonkette/Huffington Post attacks on the city paper. What is with the panty joke... why stoop to sexist/homophobic one-liners...

The reason I am passionate about this article is that few of you commentators out there appear willing to even come close to addressing the facts in this article and would rather spend time whimpering and whining about the city paper attacking a journalist.

Please dispute the facts... I dare you...

'till next time.
Lost amidst the avalanche of sentences on Waas's improprieties is the one about how Waas wrote many, many years ago that he is still known for. The article was on the Washington Times. The piece was authoritative, accurate, well-written, exhaustive, careful, and substantive.

Oh, and it was published in the Washington City Paper
This whole story was bizarre. I just can't quite wrap my head around it. Without the benefit of being a psychologist, here's what I see about it:

Murray Waas suffers from some sort of affliction that keeps him from interacting from the world. He seems utterly paranoid and completely unsociable. Normal people just don't get involved in that many lawsuits against unrelated parties.

At the same time, however, this paranoia and tenaciousness has paid a couple of big dividends when it comes to reporting. It's as if the same features that seem to drive the rest of the world up the wall would, if properly tempered, make Murray an amazingly good reporter. But the problem is that there's nothing to temper these impulses: so along with the occasionally brilliant piece to come out, come about 10 pieces based far too much on conspiratorial fancy.

Anyway, the other thing that really bugs my is why this piece was written. Yes, he's ticked off a lot of people. But this guy has a real problem. And why go back and attack pieces he's done years ago? What inspired this article? It's pretty hard to read this without seeing some form of malice in the composition. I'm probably not right about that, it's hard to know what goes on in newsrooms without being there, but it sure does appear that way in the prose.

Lastly, coming from someone who is somewhat liberal, please ignore anything Kos has to say about these things. He's annoying. From the Kos comments, it didn't seem like he even read the article. At some point (I don't remember if it was him or someone else who posts there) was doing a hatchet job on a piece that Larry Summers wrote; only had this person read the entire Summers' piece, he would have realized that Summers agreed with the critic to begin with. Same crap, different subject. As a reputable source of useful opinion, Daily Kos ranks somewhere up there with Fox News.
I have to agree with this article and with several commenters, Murray Waas is a complete loon. Everything written about him is true.
I have read in its appaling entirety this long rant against Murray Waas. The person described in this article is either someone I don't know, or someone that doesn't exist, a construct of the writers.

I first got to know Murray Waas from a radiation oncologoist at the Lombardi Cneter at Georgetown University Medical Center. It was not under the best of circumstances. Our then 16 year old son had been diagnosted with leukemia. The sky was falling in for our family. One thing everything was normal, or in retrspect, perfect. And the next-- in a moment-- we were in some other world.

A smart doctor gave us Murray Waas' phone number. I'm still not sure why. Murray was taken aback when he called. But when we spoke, he said he could do whatever he could for us. And then he did something that for a moment that seemed harsh, but candid. He said that there is very little that he could do for us. That the only thing he could do was to show our son that there had been another young person who had cancer who came out of the other side, if not whole, if not unchanged, still there and thriving. And that was all he had. In retrospect, that was exactly the right thing to say, because there was no knight in any shining armour in a moment like that.

But he gave us his phone number, and said we could him any time. He helped us with doctors. He was there for our son. He played basketball with our son endlessly, anad made fun of him if he did not beat Murray. But most of all he was just a possibility-- a possibility for the future of what could be.

And when our son graducated college, there was only one person he was insistent be there, and that was Murray Waas.

I m sure that athe City Pages could have found people like me to interview, and I am sure that they did. But they decided that charachter assassination was in order!

And what about this valued friend of my family? According to City Pages, condo boards don't like him. Draw and quarter him with horses. A boss-- in the newspaper industry, of all pleaces-- didn't like him. Bring out the hanging noose.

In the end, the only thing you come away with is this: What was the hell was the motivation of people to write such an article and at the length and even though this is someone who we KNOW, I am not so sure I want to know about his finances, or health, or landlords-- unless he wanted to tell us.
I guess I am partisan here, and I am not sure if the same person should psst twice. But, hey-- as the mother of a cancer survivor, and as someone who knows Murray, I read his entire Huffington Post an d I read this awful article.

Did the writers act abusive to him and make disrespectufl comments to him about being a cancer survivor? Even if you read their OWN article, the City Pages people did just that. They try and add *context* or somehow blame the victim cause he wasn't cooperating in their "article"-- but even when they try and explain it away it comes off very badly.

In any case, I read this part of Murray Waas' Huffington Post column about Ctiy Pages, and here is part o fwhat he wrote:

"He [the writer] badgered me over the telephone: "So are you a deadbeat or a cancer survivor. So which is it? Which is it? Then attempting to bully me, he says, "You've been begging me and Erik not to write about it. Now you are falling back on your tale of woe. Feel sorry for me! I had the cancer thing.

Later, Cherkis told me that this was all a lie, and that I really went broke because I was living high off the hog. He screamed at me: "Don't tell me that in 2005 that the effet of your cancer survivorship made you bankrupt! Maybe it was living in a house where the rent was $2,800 a month!

Taken aback, I asked Cherkis: You know hom much the rent on my house was? How would you know?" He then inexplicably screams at the top of his lungs: "Im a fucking reporter!"

Having read through the 21000 words in print and online I can't find a single word where the City Pages refutes this, or even explain it away. That is because Murray Waas probably has tapes of those conversations.

So which is it? Cherkis, Wemple, and Lenehan (didn't want to mention the names?"

Did you in fact say those things?

And why didn't you address the issue at all in your article?

Sounds like the authors are pscyhopaths. But then again, Murray Waas did something for my family that can never be paid back.
Reading a post like that is why Murray Waas will always be larger than life.

And Erik Wemple and Jason Cherkis will always be fending off each other to see which could be the smaller.

Hopefully, they are done with Murray... and on to their landlord again or their neighbors or some disabled person.
Even if you believe what CPaper writes about Murray-- which I don't and not a lot a hell of a lot of toher people do either-- so he had a hard time financially after having cancer?

Is that anyone's business? Is that a story?

But presuming that i t was, David Carr who was their boss for the longest time had cancer, and how did he deal with it?

He became a drug addict and lived almost homeless and on welfare.

But ever bring that up with Erik or David Carr, they probably would beat the you know what out of you.

So when it is one of their friends, they have a whole different view of privacy.

Of course, they argue that Murray Waa's private life is somehow related to his work. But who is not to say that Carr's experience did not make him stronger and the writer he is.

But Wemple would beat up anyone who brought that up, or fling shit at them!

And Carr is now cashing in on his bad boy past. He' s making hundreds of thousands of dollars writing his memoir of addiction and despair and his old life.

Murray Waas wanted privacy. Maybe he deserved it.

Wemple should write his autobiography too. But he would have to relly on blogger.com to post it. Too bad for someone who hates us bloggers. hehe
After reading your article, the parts that I could get through and make sense ol, I come away feeling icky and creepy. Not about Murray Waas, the subject of this article. But about the Washington City Paper and Erik Wemple.

The article comes off icky and creepy in the sense that the writers have appeared to have dedicated their life to his story. One can imagine them high fiving each other in their "newsroom" having found out that Murray Waas was once held after school for being late to class, or that he has bad punctuation, or-- I guess he is a single guy, the story doesn't say-- his house is not in perfect order.

Kinda grossed out by the article, I picked up a copy of the Onion, which thank God gives us an alternative to finding the movie listing from here on out without the City Paper.

But there seems to be an article in the Onion this week about a "Modern-Day Martin Luther" who crusdades against I-Hop.

Perhaps Erik Wemple and Jason cherkis will see themselves in it:

Sioux Falls, SD-- Managers of an area International House of Pancakes discovered 95 comment cards nailed to its front door Sunday, which were the work of locqala resident Ronald Lyman, a 53-year old contractor and one time regular customer who is calling for wide-scale reform of the venerable chain.

"IHOP has grown weak on powdered sugar and frutiy garnishes, forsaking the righteousness of its original rib-sticking mission," said Lyman, who nailed his 95 comments to the door shortly before the morning bruch rush, when they would receive maxium exposure. " This house is no longer a house of pancakes-- it is house of lies."

"IHOP is aburt pancakes, not syrups," card 41 reads " No pancake can exist drowned in a pool of lingonberry."

Jason Cherkis and Eric Wemple, meet Ronald Lyman. Perhaps you could all team up and find out that Murray Waas eats with the wrong fork. Or that he is not all cuddly when he works. Or his landlord doesn't like him.

Or maybe they can team up and do an expose on Ben's Chilli Bowl-- that the burgers are too greasy.

Great job guys.
I lived at Belmont St. at the time Murray Waas lived there. And from my point of view, I had a lot of trouble with the condo board there too. My brother came up from North Carolina to paint my place when I was off on vacation and had come in late and parked in the wrong space. The mistake was an innocent one, but when he went before the board to apologize & try and get some $$$ back, he was so pissed he just got back in his car and drove back to Raleigh.

I guess what I am saying is that someone who had to face Tony Roccograndi and that board, I didn't have a good time later.

From what i know from the neighbors, Tony Roccograndi never actually lived in his own unit, but rented it to his girl friend. And she in turn had a few dogs, anad boarded any one else in the complex who had one. That was nice, except to live around her.

She was an annoyance to everyone whose house was around hers. I'm surprised that that did not maike it into the story. Their next door neighbor Russell Mohkiber & his wife had it prettuy bad, and in the summer it got outight noxious. But I think Waas had it the wrost, cause he lived right above them.
And cause Roccograndi's friends were on the board there wasn't much ability to complain.

I guess there is always another side. But the person quoted in the City Paper article, Roccograndi, was not the best liked guy. And we all lived in dread and fear of him and the board.

Of course, why does this matter? Maybe the City Paper can come to our condo board meetings and see how the small guy suffers.. there apparently is nothing too small for them to cover apparently.
This article is the creepiest thing I have ever read in my life. Murray
Waas will get over this in a day. For the City Paper, this is going to linger for a long, long time-- and add to its diminishing reputation.

It is one part inuendo; another inference; and another voyeurism.

Let's hear about the authors' landlord disputes, or disputes with their neiighors, and then for good measure, their health problems. It seems like they all good use some serious therapy.

Everyone who knows Jason Cherkis the way we do from his old neighorhood knows that he is a psycho creep.
I think Mim Udovitch expresses my sentiments and the hordes (five, six?) of people who read this article. She can speak for me:

Okay. As I understand it, City Paper decided Murray Waas was newsworthy because his work was complimented by several other journalists.

Extensive reporting ensued, revealing that over the almost three decades that he has dedicated to investigating issues of profound concern to the continued welfare of the republic, he:

(a) Sometimes made some errors;
(b) Sometimes hyped a story in order to advance or promote it in a way that arguably was not ultimately justified by deliverable substance; and
(c) has written a few stories that subsequent reporters could neither prove nor disprove -- plausible reasons for which include but are not limited to: that they were operating under different institutional standards and mandates than he; that the blowback from the original reporting prompted a clampdown on potential pertinent sources; and that in objective reality not every story is equally gettable by every reporter of comparable skills and equal repute.

However strenuously these things are situated in the context of (at best) tenuously relevant anecdotes about Waas's personal life, they are not particularly unusual features of a long career in investigative journalism , and if they have larger implications, the story fails to establish them.

Given -- as the story itself makes plain -- that Waas has neither exceptional power nor influence, I guess that City Paper can now congratulate itself for not shirking its obligation to make public the alleged personal difficulties of a poorly remunerated private individual whose work it cannot significantly discredit, thus providing a valuable counterbalance to the inherent threat posed by a few instances of praise from Dan Froomkin and Jay Rosen, which might otherwise have gone unchecked.

Why is this venue even dignifying such ugly blather by highlighting it?

Full disclosure: I don't know Waas at all in the present, but I probably exchanged civil greetings with him in the hallways of the Voice 17 or 18 years ago.

(you can find the link to the original of this on Romenesko, if anyone is interested...)
Loved the story! Murry rocks!
Too bad the last anecdote of this story just happens to be made up. The authors of this one-sided article say regarding one of Murray Waas' articlees about Alberto Gonzales that Gonzales denied the story and the public is left to decide between Waas and Gonzales.

Too bad the authors, Jason Cherkis and Eric Wempel, didn't do their research.

No less an auhority than the New York Times did the same story as Waas, reporting the very same thing... while attributing the breaking of the story to Waas and the National Journal.

Did the authors Cherkis and Wemple simply not know this when they wrote the story? Doesn't look so good for them if they didn't... sloppy reporting. If they did, they are just making shit up.

If anyone cares to look, here is the link to the New York Times story...

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/25/washington/25justice.html?scp=13&sq=%22national%20journal%22&st=cse

Does the City paper do corrections? Probably not...
After reading this (or half of it-- does anyone want to read 21,000 words about someone else's medical disputes and landlord tenant disputes?) one can't help but wonder how much of it might even be true. Most of the most serious allegations (if you can consider them such) are made by entirely anonymous sources. Others are made by people with axes to grind-- which is rarely noted at all in the article. (To find those, a reader simply has to Google the names of some of Waas' accusers in this article to see that he had written investigative pieces about several of them, something not noted at all in the CP article. Ethical journalists would have volunteered that on their own).

Add to that the writers make no bones about their animus towards their subject. And into the mix, as the writers admit, a long time feud that Wemple, his wife, and one of their best friends had that predated their undertaking this effort, and one is left wondering just which parts might be true and which parts are not.

I did some of my own fact checking and can attest to one fact in the article. There is in fact a journalist named Murray Waas and the writers do have appeared to have spelled his name right-- although I cannot admit to having gotten through the entire morass to know for sure.
It is probably overkill to point this out, with all the other problems with this story: the tone, one sidedness, the conflicts of interests, and just plain weirdness or the entire exercise.

But it appears that the poor guy Waas is never given a chance to respond. Allegation after allegation, innuendo after innuendo, anonymous adhomenim comment after another, but we never hear from Waas. There is some disclaimer at the top of the whole monstrosity that Waas claims the story is unfair and inaccurate. But as to the specifics, rarely are any of his comments about specifics included in the article itself. Is that the way things are done now at days?

Waas wrote something for the Huffington Post where he says parts of the story were simply made up or fabricated. Wouldn't the writers want to address those allegations just to set the record straight.
This is creepy to read. Why did the reporters write it? And why did the WCP publish it? Oh-- the writer was the editor of the WCP. So the same nut writing it also published it. Understand now.
Doesn't this guy work for/work with the Huffington Post now? It is one thing for Jason Cherkis to be working unsupervised at the Washington City Paper-- readers (twelve), credibility (not much), reach (free from a box with lots of returns-- and another for him to be writing for AOL's portal!

It should be interesting to see what happens over time!
So one of the dudes who wrote this now works for the Huffington Post?! How did that happen? Disasta waiting to happen.

Leave a Comment

Note: HTML tags are not allowed in comments.
Comments Shown. Turn Comments Off.
...