City Desk

Atlantic Writer Says WTOP’s in Pepco’s Pocket, WTOP Responds: “It’s Bullshit”

Writer and Pepco customer Gregg Easterbrook lost power in Friday's derecho, and he isn't happy. In between trashing Pepco and Gov. Martin O'Malley in an article for The Atlantic, Easterbrook takes aim at D.C.'s WTOP.

With the power out, people rely on radios to get their news, Easterbrook writes, making a news radio station's role more critical. But WTOP has been falling down on the job.

"In 2011, Pepco became a major advertiser on WTOP, and since has been treated with kid gloves," Easterbrook writes. Easterbrook quotes from a WTOP interview with a Pepco representative in which, Easterbrook writes, the anchor lets the Pepco official get away with a misleading figure about wind speed. Easterbrook could not be reached for comment.

"It's bullshit," says Jim Farley, WTOP's Vice President of News and Programming.

Farley has gobs of evidence that he says shows that WTOP hasn't gone light on Pepco. He sent me a voicemail from a listener complaining that WTOP reporters were taking "cheap shots" at Pepco representatives, and a listener email saying that WTOP had appointed itself a "self-appointed bully" of the utility.

Farley also forwarded other interviews the station has broadcast with Pepco officials, including one from this morning with anchors Bruce Alan and Mike Moss. When a Pepco official sticks to the company's line, one of the anchor tells him that listeners "want to hear you talk like a human being and not what the PR people told you to say."

"For [Easterbrook] to draw that conclusion from one interview that he heard is inexcusably sloppy journalism," Farley says. WTOP's attorneys are considering their next step, according to Farley.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • William Haney

    Just heard WTOP spin "less than 250,000" without power as a positive - instead of an outrage. My favorite radio station doesn't play music, but does it just read utility company press releases? No mercy for Pepco.

  • rich

    Gregg Easterbrook is an amateur writer who made a jackass statement [yes,even the educated idiots are allowed to make dumb ass statements and call it free speech]. He will probably state that he won tons of medals in the military, as the Supreme Court allowed such lies to continue under free speech.

  • Dante

    WTOP absolutely treats PEPCO with kid gloves. Listen to them for 15 minutes and it is obvious. I will tune out. Their journalists have sold out.

  • Jes’ sayin’

    Farley and his staff have done a helluva job, working their asses off for the past five days.
    Easterbrook's offers nothing of value to substantiate has cheap shot, and it's no surprise that Farley has called "bullshit" on him. Bullshit it is.

    When I need to know what's going on in the area, I turn to WTOP. If I need to find some unsubstantiated political bullshit, I guess from now on, I'll search for whatever Easterbrook has to say.