City Desk

What Is The Worst WaPo Editorial Ever?


What's the worst editorial that's run in the Washington Post in the last 10 years? I have a nominee.

On November 23, the District settled a class-action lawsuit for $13.7 million. The suit had alleged that more than 600 citizens were falsely arrested surrounding the anti-globalization protests in April 2000. Not only were these citizens falsely arrested, but a raid on one of the protesters' offices was proved to be bogus. At the time, D.C. police brass alleged that they found Molotov cocktail materials.

Both the raid and the arrests have proven to be very costly mistakes for the District and lead to policies that set the stage for Pershing Park. Now, WaPo is stuck with an editorial that got it all so wrong. On April 19, 2000, the board published an editorial entitled: "Hail to the Chief—and His Cops."

In light of the historic settlement, WaPo should run a correction on its editorial page.

WaPo wrote in its now infamous editorial:

"If any groups deserve high marks, they are the disciplined men and women of the Metropolitan Police Department and other law enforcement agencies who served under D.C. Chief Charles Ramsey. The city should be grateful for the professional manner in which they handled the week-long protests....The police prepared for the demonstrations for months, and it showed."

What goes unmentioned: the false arrests which included the bogus arrest of one of the paper's own photographers, Pulitzer winner Carol Guzy.

The AP wrote at the time:

"Police arrested Carol Guzy Saturday after escorting her from a cordoned-off area where they had taken into custody demonstrators protesting policies of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Associated Press photographer Kamenko Pajic said officers took him and Guzy from the protest area, but police released him before arresting Guzy. She is among Post photographers who won this year's Pulitzer for feature photography for their pictures of Kosovo refugees.

Pajic said it was unclear to him what prompted the arrest of Guzy, who was behind him as they were being led away. He turned and photographed her being handcuffed.

Police spokesman Sgt. Joseph Gentile said Guzy was charged with parading without a permit, just like the other protesters. He would not say why a journalist was arrested along with the marchers.

Pajic and Guzy were among several news photographers who had stayed in the cordoned-off area after police began arresting protesters.

Post officials declined comment Saturday night."

*photo by Darrow Montgomery.

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  • Truth Hurts

    The one where the Post endorsed Gray over Patterson.

  • monkeyrotica

    Every editorial that endorsed Marion Barry for Mayor.

  • Rich Whittington

    The editorial that endorsed invading Iraq.

  • Rick Mangus

    The caption for the photo to this story should be,

    'Hey guys what Constitution!, Ha!, Ha!, Ha!'.

  • huh?

    TruthHurts, why would Patterson be a better council chair than Gray?

  • Truth Hurts

    Huh?, there are many reasons, but it's best to start by looking at the interests that financed their campaigns. The overwhelming money behind Gray came from Republicans living outside of DC, but running businesses in DC. Three convicted felons maxed out for Gray: a disbarred Maryland lobbtist (Bruce Bereano), a tax cheat found with 1.9 million and double books hidden at his home (Khanu), and developer Doug Jemal. Most of the rest threw money at Gray because Patterson wanted parking lot owners to chip in for DC school improvements or because Patterson pushed the restaurant smoking ban. Yet Gray's "one city with justice for all" was carefully crafted to appeal to racial politics and most folks never new that Patterson's record was far superior to Gray's. She fought domestic violence, investigated Pershing Park and sponsored legislation to curb police abuses, was a leader in pushing through the huge 10 year funding stream for DC schools, strengthened FOIA laws, and tried to open all council business to the public (Gray cast the vote that killed it). She gave up her seat to run for council chair while Gray risked nothing. In short, she's smart, fair and effective. She's was the best council member I ever saw. She would've been able to work with Fenty because he trusted her. He always knew Gray's agenda was a future mayoral bid. There's lots more, but my daughter wants to play in the snow now.

  • jeff gerhard

    good call Cherkis, i think i remember this editorial. April 2000: the month of losing all faith in the police, the mayor, and the washington post.