City Desk

How to Get a Sweet WaPo Editorial

In case you were doubting the tight relationship between the Washington Post editorial board and the upper echelons of the Fenty administration—particularly schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee—check this e-mail, sent on Oct. 5 from Rhee to embattled parks-and-rec director-designee Ximena Hartsock:

Spoke to Wapo ed board folks about you today. Told them you are the most qualified person possible, that you have amazing capacity and that everything you do has your hallmark of excellence. They'll write a good piece for tomorrow.

Et voilà.


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  • Simon

    how'd you get that, FOIA?

  • huh?

    Please tell me that you've made this up, LL.

  • Mike DeBonis

    Nope, real. I'll add a screenshot in a sec.

  • huh?

    Can you tell us how you got that? Seems too fast for FOIA.

  • Mike DeBonis

    Indeed too fast for FOIA. It was given to me.

  • Dave McKenna

    you're the best, MdB. nicely done.

  • Fred

    Great job.

  • Angry Al Gonzales

    Excellent, MdB excellent.

  • sigmund freud

    Mike: you are great! First the Graham/Loza story and then this. I hope people wake up and send Fenty and Rhee to the unemployment line.

  • The Post Sucks

    This makes me so mad. The Post has no credibility anymore.

  • dcps parent

    Wow. Oh Wow. For crissakes, all this time it has seemed like Rhee was the BFF of the Post editorial board. Guess it was true.

    This would be funny, except that there are actual children (2 are mine) in the villages--er--buildings that she is destroying in order to save...

  • Really!?

    Now, I can understand why Councilmember Thomas' response to the editorial board was so strong. They're not even pretending to play fair at this point. Great work, and please don't let this go!

  • J

    Wow - the Post is going to shit themselves when they see this HAHA. Good job Mike!

  • Tom

    Wow, this is getting silly (actually its been way beyond silly for some time now. So a lady who runs around the country giving speeches on how "she is education"; concerns herself with other departments? What is going on in the Executive Branch? After reading Dream City and watching 9 Lives... I realize even Barry did some positive things. This administration is the worst ever in DC. Fenty and his goons must go!

  • Dave Jamieson

    Well played, Boner. Very well played indeed.

  • Ward 5

    OMG - this is a JOKE right???? I'm forwarding this to EVERYONE!!!! I HATE the Washington Post!!! You've just made my rainy day :-)!

  • Anybody But Fenty

    Oh my Gosh this is terrible! Just what we knew all along. That Fenty and the Washington Post are married to each other. Everything done in the dark will come to the light.

  • candycane1

    No one should be surprised. The relationship they have is the reason she became interim director of DPR. IT's called the "hook up". I am so very pleased however, that WCP got the e-mail. It validates everything we've known. How else could so many DCPS personnel move to DPR with no experience and receive hefty raises? WASHIGNTON CITY PAPER: YOU ROCK! I"M LOVING IT!"

  • Korrupt

    I learned a long time ago not to pay attention to the WaPo's editorials and especially their coverage of local news. Sadly, too many do.

  • Robert Gandy

    Where does the line start for influenced Post editorials? I want one, and could really use the publicity. Nicely done!

  • Downtown Rez

    Wow: WP editorial board and the Admin communicate. Double Wow: Members of the admin. communicate with eachother.
    Triple wow: Oh wait, never mind. That's where the story ends.

  • huh?

    Nice work. Seriously. Mike is the best LL ever.

  • bakabomb

    I found this link on a WaPo comments board for their "DC's Progress Report" editorial. Just sitting there like an IED waiting to blow their reputation sky high. Muahahaha.

  • Jamie

    @Downtown Rez, there used to be some expectation that journalists didn't just write positive opinion pieces at the request of the people they are about.

    I guess you're the kind of guy who prefers reading paid advertisements to independent journalism, but hey, to each their own. I'd rather not, for example, read a restaurant review that was sourced by the restaurant owner.

  • 1intheKnow

    Execllent reporting, Mr. DeBonis - so far - for providing incontrovertible proof of the cozy relationship between the Post and Mayor Skippy and his Not Ready for Prime Time Players (sorry, SNL). Of course, anyone who's been following DC Govt. in the Post knows this to be the case. The more revealing, and to me important, question is WHY? Once upopn a time, the Post was the shining example of "speaking truth to power". What is the quid pro quo - or other reason - behind the Post's disgraceful abdication of its journalistic responsibilities? Why do they continue to fawn over this Mayoral Administration, even in the face of repeated demonstrations of incompetence and unscrupulousness (and probable lawbreaking)? What's in it for them? I'll be waiting for your follow-up report....

  • Downtown Rez

    You guess a lot, don't you? Sadly, just not very well.

  • sigmund freud

    Downtown Rez: are you Mayor Fenty or Peter Nickels?? Otherwise, kindly explain why it is okay or expected to get an editorial based upon a phone call that provides someone's biased perceptions. LOSER!

  • huh?

    hell yeah dr. freud!

  • Marciela

    I love it. Mike, you are awesome! LOVING the e-mail being there as well as the WaPo's brown nose of proof. Honest journalism my ass.

    Did you ever get the criminal report? If you still need it, let me know here and I'll send you a copy in the mail. That would leave some serious 'splaining' to do.

  • EG

    Yeah, like the WaPo editorial board had any credibility to begin with.
    +1 on congrats to MDB. Juicy emails a journo career will make.

  • 2thru

    Wapo cannot be taken seriously and neither can Fenty or Rhee. Hartsock is not qualified for the position and she is not even a citizen. Of course Ms. Rhee would support her. Rhee does not beleive in credentials since she doesn't have any herself. She thinks that contacts are enough. When will people in D.C. wake up and realize that we are being treated like a colony rather than a force to be reckoned with? The only reason Rhee is still here is because no other jurisdiction will have her.. not even the one her boyriend is presides over. Sadly, no one is disturbed that DC, one of the neediest jurisdictions is under the tyrrany of an inexperienced, uncredentialed novice whose sole purpose is to expand her posse of inexperienced clones across the District government. These people are the ones Wapo has chosen to support Solution 1: People need to read the City Paper innstead of Wapo Solution 2: Government workers (teachers, social workers, garbage collectors, cops, et al) need to all catch the flu on the same day and remind Rhee and Fenty who really runs this city.

  • Truth Hurts

    LL, any reaction from WAPO to your poke in the eye? Great scoop, great reporting. I hate to ask whether there're comparable emails out there relating to recent WAPO editorials commending reporting by you and Cherkis. For your sake, I hope not.

  • Dave

    To paraphrase Harvey Keitel in "Pulp Fiction," let's not start licking each other's Popsicles quite yet, gentlemen.

    What does this email prove? That the WaPo e-board talked to Rhee before writing the editorial on Hartstock. So...? Don't we want the e-board talking to people before they write? Isn't that what makes them different from bloggers who spout off their opinions without doing any research or reporting? The WaPo e-board has access to the most powerful people in the city. Why wouldn't we want them to use that access?

    This kind of thing happens with every e-board of every newspaper in every city, and it goes both ways. You don't think Vince Gray or Phil Mendelson have ever lobbied the WaPo before for more favorable coverage?

    Don't get me wrong; DeBonis is a titan. But let's not get into haigographic mode here for something that is, ultimately, just a nice little scooplet.

  • Downtown rez

    Neither, Freud and huh? (LOL)

    I just don't see anything wrong in and of itself with WP communicating with the Admin. That is expected, or should be. Nor do I see any smoking gun with Rhee communicating with Hartsock. Again, should be expected. And lastly, I don't see any evidence that Rhee has the ability to improperly or even single-handedly sway the WP editorial board.
    See, it's just natural- expected, if you will- that WP would want to check out Hartsock before writing an editorial. And an obvious way to do so is by speaking with her coworkers or former employer.

    What's weird is that you make it in to something more than that. If you have additional insight into the matter, you both have certainly silent about it, and yet you freely project your fantasies as fact, and pretend you know more than you do.

    That's your bias showing, not mine.

  • Truth Hurts

    Dave and Downtown Rez: You raise some interesting points. WAPO's policy, consistent with most reputable newspapers, is that the editorial board expresses opinions based on reported facts/publicly available statements, etc. The editorial board tries to steer clear of reporting. When extraneous factors influence WAPO's editorials, the paper generally discloses such in the editorials. LL's coup was getting his hands on emails suggesting a particularly cozy relationship between Rhee and the WAPO board. Would make an interesting case study for Journalism 101.

  • Angry Al Gonzales

    The Post has lost its luster since Mrs Graham died. The tilt to the right via Fred Hiatt's support of the Bush regime, the recent scandal on selling access to reporters & editors, & now this - Rhee's confidence that she controls the Post destroys any notion of "an independent newspaper".

    The Post has become a shill for the right wing nationally & for the Fenty-Rhee regime locally. Mrs Graham must be crying in her grave.

  • Downtown rez

    AAG- Do your commie self a favor and remember that that the same KG you idolize is the same KG that broke the back of the Baltimore Washington Newspaper Guild. When was that, 20 or 30 years ago?

    TH- The email is not a record of a "cozy relationship" between Rhee and the WP EB. It's a record of a communication between Rhee and Hartsock.

  • 4m123

    I LOVE MdeB and applaud him for getting ahold of this email, and for the amazing work he's been doing for months. But I think he and others may be overplaying the meaning of the email. I think the wording is ambiguous and that there is no clear cause-and-effect relationship between the second and third sentences of the email ("I talked to WaPo" and "they're going to write a favorable piece").

    It is indeed possible that MR hoped XH would assume (as have so many posters in this thread) from the phrasing of the email that her chat had in fact resulted in a promise to write a favorable piece. It would be a great way for MR to put XH in her debt. But the wording is sufficiently ambiguous that it seems possible that there was no link, and that MR wasn't even trying to draw one, between the conversation and the editorial.

    If MR had the huge clout attributed to her on this board, she would have wanted to make sure XH knew it. So wouldn't she have been clearer, by saying something like "they said I had persuaded them, and . . ." or "I made it happen for you . . ."?

  • Comrade Al Gonzales

    You're right, DRez - K. Graham was a bloodsucking capitalist & union killer. She deserved her unhappy life.

    The Post is a joke. The only halfway decent American paper is the NY Times.

    The best paper in the world is L'Unita', the Italian Communist Party newspaper. It runs Doonesbury. It is a bit odd – several pages of communistic polemic & then Doonesbury, speaking Italiano. Newspapers – partisan newspapers – in Italy sell millions of copies & are healthy b.c. the clown Silvio owns the TV networks & puts on propaganda, so people get their news from the partisan newspapers.

  • Truth Hurts

    D Rez: Read my post. I didn't say the emails were a "record of a cozy relationship". I said they suggested a cozy relationship, which they do. Don't be so touchy. I'm not even sure the emails suggested an improperly cozy relationship. That's why I said they would make an interesting case study for Journalism 101. 4m123 may well be right.

  • downtown rez

    Yeah, granted.

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