City Desk

Postie Tim Craig Responds to Occupy D.C. Complaints

Tim Craig's Twitter photo

After reading Occupy D.C.'s long and cranky letter about recent Post coverage of the movement and "breathless" tweets by staff writer Tim Craig as he walked through the McPherson Square site, I checked in with Craig to see if he had a response.

While the letter complains about Craig's language and questions his objectivity in describing chalk markings on the statue of  James B. McPherson, Craig says the comments stemmed from his belief that "the public deserved to know about what was happening at that moment."

He says he will take up the question of whether the tweets were out of line with his editors. In one, he wrote that the chalk drawings were "messy, disrespectful actions."

But, Craig says, "I'm also a citizen of the District of Columbia—it's a national statue and I believe it was defaced, and people walking through that park saw a defaced statue."

And he is right on that point: Marking the 135-year-old statue is prohibited by park rules.

Craig points out that he's written a number of stories about the movement and the encampment, and says, "I believe I've been very fair to Occupy D.C. and I believe I've tried as a journalist to show what they're trying to achieve—and in doing my job, point out some things that may not sit so well with District residents."
He concludes, "In no way did that incident affect my broader reporting of Occupy D.C."
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  • M

    It was chalk, and Tim Craig freaked out. But if Tim Craig thinks the public deserved to know that at that moment he was freaking out over some chalk... he may have lost sight of which topics it is important for the 4th estate to bring to light.

  • Karin

    I was present when the chalking happened & asked my fellow Occupiers if this was worthwhile, in service of the movement. While some felt it was a worthwhile exercise, other occupiers began to wash the chalk away. Within the camp, it was settled so that the chalk marks were removed within a short period of their execution. I saw members of the media there, photographing the most inflammatory comments placed on the statue but failing 2 turn their cameras or attention to the conversation that addressed the exact concerns that the were reported in the WaPo article.
    Unless there was an emergency that caused the reporter to leave, it would have been an interesting & valuable conclusion to the article to say that other protestors cleaned the statue & raised the question that the reporter had in mind. In fact, since I couldn't have been more than 25 feet from this reporter at the time, and I was speaking loudly, my questions, the discussion & subsequent cleaning could have all been on the record.
    I was dismayed to read later on Twitter that the movement was described as in a "tailspin" because a bunch of adults were having a productive conversation about best forms of protest and best uses of energy that are elements central to the movement. Rational discussion that leads to a respectful resolution does not a "tailspin" make.
    This was a missed opportunity for this reporter to better examine the working principles of the movement via exposure to a heated debate about best uses of energy that sprang from the chalk marks on the statue. It leads me to believe this journalist was not following the story as it unfolds but instead abridging the events for some reason. Whatever the reason, it did a disservice to the reality that the Occupiers work together, sometimes disagree but through discussion find & refind our common cause.

  • Typical DC BS

    Yeah, right. I guess ordinary rules and regulations are beneath the "Occupy" snobs. They need to be swept up like yesterday's trash and cleaned out of the park. Let them behave like any other protester.

    THERE IS NO RIGHT TO CAMP OUT IN THE PARK! Treat them like anyone else who camps there - warn them to get up and get out or risk arrest.

  • DC
  • Typical DC BS

    @DC: Nice try. Show me where it says in the Constitution that there is a right to take over a PUBLIC park FOR WEEKS BY CAMPING. I guess that huge amount of tuition you paid for an education failed to teach you reading comprehension. It says you have a right to assemble and petition, NOT LIVE IN A PUBLIC PARK.

    All I see are lazy ass protestors who would get a LOT MORE RESPECT if they showed up every day and went home every day, rather than trashing OUR parks.

  • Peter van Rossum

    Hey Tim Craig,

    It's great that as a "citizen of DC" you had a personal feeling about what you saw. But as a reporter it's important to keep that separate from your journalistic integrity. To let you personal feelings inject into the facts of what you saw shows that you are a disgrace to your profession.

    I too am a citizen of DC and I regularly see acts by activists of all political persuasions that I find objectionable but even as just a "lowly regular citizen" I am able to separate my feelings about individual acts from my broader opinions of the legitimacy of what the actors are reacting to.

    Welcome to a democracy Mr. Craig. If you can't separate your personal feelings from your reporting perhaps you should look for a job outside of the fourth estate.

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