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