City Desk

Reporter Goes To Catch A Predator on Racist Cab Drivers

Washington's full of journalists, but it's sadly lacking in a certain kind of media type: the histrionic local TV news "I-Team" reporter. D.C. has the requisite corrupt politicians, so why can't we get somebody to ambush them with a microphone and camera crew?

Maybe we're about to. When I first heard that WUSA9 reporter and Anderson Cooper lookalike Russ Ptacek was doing a story on cab drivers who won't pick up black passengers, I groaned. What was there new to report on? Cabs have been refusing to pick up black passengers for as long as there have been hack licenses.

Judging by a portion already posted online, though, Ptacek's investigation has that special blend of serious issues and theater that makes for a good local TV investigation. Ptacek has two men, one white and one black, stand about 20 feet from each other on a busy street. When the black man asks to be taken to Alabama Avenue SE, the driver refuses. But when the white guy asks a few minutes later, the cabbie agrees to take him.

Suddenly, Ptacek's in the middle of the street with his head in the taxi, questioning the driver like he's Chris Hansen and the cabbie's holding wine coolers and condoms. The cab driver doesn't put up much of a defense, explaining that he doesn't pick up "brothers" because the last time he did, his passenger stiffed him on the bill. When Ptacek asks why he would take a white fare instead of a black one, he claims that he didn't even realize that his passenger was white.

Ptacek's investigation, with 40 cabs tested, airs at 11 tonight. Hopefully, it's just the latest in a long line of Ptacek confronting villains for viewers' entertainment.

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  • RS

    Don't find this entertaining in the least. Pathetic that this form of discrimination seems accepted. Let's hope something begins to be done about it.

  • lovessoldier

    They don't just discriminate against black males. As a non-driving black female I have been passed so many times that if it is truly an emergency I get one of my white male co-workers to hail a cab. Sad but true.

  • Mujhaid

    Chuck D said, "Every brother ain't a brother". Africans, and Carribean are some of the most racist people towards black Americans.

  • Kenn

    65-year-old James Woods was a Savannah, Georgia cab driver who made the foolish mistake of picking up two black males. Jeremy Smith, 20, and Jamere Drake, 18, were convicted of Woods' shooting death after pleading guilty. The media has an extensive track record of condemning white cab drivers as 'racist' for refusing to provide transportation to blacks, particularly males. Cabbies are aware, however, that blacks frequently attempt to skip out on paying their fares and, sometimes, as in the case of Woods, rob and even murder the drivers. Woods lost his life to black violence in November, 2011.


  • IMGoph

    it wasn't even set up well. if you're going to make a point that race was the only determining factor, all the other variables should be held constant. they set it up so the black guy gave an address, while the white guy gave a location. the black guy gave the address before getting in the cab, while the white guy gave it after getting in.

    weak comparo.