Best Pissed-Off Columnists

Colbert I. King & Jonetta Rose Barras (tie)
Washington Post, Washington Examiner
Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

This year’s award is a tie. King’s Saturday column in the Post has lately showcased a man on a good-government rampage. He hounds councilmembers like Michael Brown and Jim Graham! He shows up at the Maryland offices of developers who bundle campaign contributions to District pols and demands answers, goddamit! (He doesn’t get any, but it makes for snappy copy.) A Pulitzer Prize winner, King could easily phone it in and wax rhapsodic about national affairs full time. But he seems happy spending his time hammering local pols for their ethical shortcomings.

A former City Paper columnist who now writes in the Examiner, Barras may overdo the outrage from time to time. But she, too, reports just as much as she opines, a rare treat among the chattering classes—and a sign of character for someone who could probably get away with playing pure pundit. She recently was out ahead of the city news corps in breaking the story that the Gray administration spent its early days paying top executives huge salaries. Barras’ hostility to the mayor was apparent before he was ever elected, but, these days, it gives her column some extra zip.