Loose Lips

Gray Campaign Claims It’s Victim of Crank Caller

crank-yankers_281x211This couldn't have come on a worse day. Just as campaigns are trying to squeeze out some more cash from their supporters before today's filing deadline, the Gray camp has fallen prey to a prank caller. According to the press release:

"The Vince Gray For Mayor telephone numbers have been hijacked by someone who has masked their telephone number identification with the campaign's number.This person is making prank calls to residents. Hundreds of residents have called into the campaign office, complaining that someone is contacting them from the campaign and hanging up. Verizon security control and the Metropolitan Police Department have been notified of the calls, and authorities are seeking to identify the person or persons responsible. We ask that anyone who receives these calls to contact Verizon security control at 1-800-483-6922."

Gray Campaign Spokesperson Traci Hughes tells Loose Lips that the crank caller has yet to even speak to residents. "They're not saying anything," she says. "As soon as the person picks up, they hang up." She says campaign headquarters has received hundreds of complaints since 5:15 p.m.: "The phones have been ringing off the hook."

Hughes says Metropolitan Police Department officers are on the scene at Gray's headquarters.

*photo courtesy of MTV.


  1. #1

    WNTW look for Ron Moten

  2. #2

    On what basis has it been determined a "crank" caller"?
    And the Gray campaign will imply Fenty folks are responsible in 3...2....1...
    I suggest we impanel an open and inclusive commission to determine why the Gray camp doesn't have control over their own phones. My off-the-cuff guess is cheap telecom software, or user error that caused an auto-dialer to go berzerk.
    But, hey, I'm sure the suggestion of wrongdoing will be a nice silver lining to this whole "mistake".

  3. #3

    Gray camp has yet to blame Ron Moten. Waiting for it.

  4. #4

    Seriously, this is just too easy. Sort of like, oh, I don't know, "I don't know who did this this, but I don't put aside any possibility to tell you the truth."

  5. #5

    Hey, Jason. While you're being all open minded and all, would you mind changing the "crank caller" in the story title to "technical difficulties"?
    At least until you have actual proof that a crank caller is involved?
    Thanks for the consideration...

  6. #6

    No offence but if you do not have proof of a "crank caller" and yet still leave that as yet unsupported title up...
    C'mon, man. Don't be punked. Report the facts and just the facts.

  7. #7

    Reminds me of Joe Lieberman on election day announcing his "site was hacked" and implying Ned Lamont's people did it. Everyone printed it, without bothering to do boring "investigative journalism". It took me and other tech savvy types 10 mins w/Google to discover Lieberman was using a cheap hosting service, and any site there would crash under a highly publicized election load.

    The press got around to retracting after the election.

  8. #8

    I have a message into the Gray camp addressing your questions about whether the problem was a crank caller or a glitch in their phone bank system. And calls into MPD.

    At this point, the Gray campaign is on the record. I have no reason to doubt them.

  9. Ward 4 Resident/Voter

    I am glad I'm on the FCC do not call list. LOL

  10. #10

    Great. Thanks, Jason.
    If you have no reason to doubt them and you have no independent verification, than please change you title to something like "Gray Campaign CLAIMS to Becomes Victim of Crank Caller". Or something similarly neutral.
    Thanks in advance for your consideration,

  11. #11

    And, Jason, I'm not going to let this go. Ever.
    Please think about your roll and your responsibility here.
    What do you actually know, and what are you representing as true?

  12. #12

    Exactly Res, that how the game goes. Print with the unsupported leading headline while it's at the top of the page. "Correct" after new content pushes it out of view, call it "good responsible journalism" and pat yourself on the back for integrity.

    For a similar example shown in how damaging "good responsible journalism" can be...who here still laughs at "Screaming Howard Dean"? Did you know that all major news networks retracted the video days later, admitting that the source used a mike that filtered the ambient crowd noise, which they all admitted drowned out "Screaming Howard". Of course they spent 24-48 hrs showing the vid and making snarky comments constantly...and did one segment admitting it was misleading.

    You could see the same in the Gore hatchet job in 2000. Among a ton of others. Print the slant in bold type, bury the correction in 8 pt font under the movie ads.

  13. #13

    Why should the Gray campaign get back to you when your headline is still sitting up there?
    Think about it. Pull the fucking article until you have something more than some press hacks word. You get proof, fine, I'll back the fuck off.
    Don't be a tool.

  14. #14

    Rez: Don't bother. You're asking for _actual_ journalistic integrity, which comes across to modern journalists as being a whiny fuddy-duddy. Afraid the kind of adult journalism died with Morrow and Cronkite's retirement.

  15. #15

    Yeah, I'm done.
    Jason- If and when you do eventually get around to "printing" a correction, please do me the favor of prominently linking to my criticisms of this piece.
    While that won't change your being a fool, at least then later readers might not automatically attribute assume you are a willing tool.

  16. #16

    It is happening and it is called desperation, just like they are going to senior citizens homes asking them to sign a document that switches then from democrats to independent or republican. This is going to be a rough election cycle.

  17. #17

    Downtown Rez: Look, I've made the calls. I'm waiting to hear back. I'm taking Gray's campaign at their word until I hear otherwise. Stay on the case, or nag me, I will get more answers on this.

  18. #18

    Jason: And proving plenty of free public spin until their statement is _proven_ false to you. You Kind of see the problem with that don't you? Burden of proof on an assertion falls on, er...well..."no one".

    Remember how the White House was "vandalized"? You folks never learn...or IMO, give damn.

  19. #19

    John: You've just compared Vincent Gray to George W. Bush.

  20. #20

    Political techniques are political techniques. You will note I also mentioned Joe Lieberman did the same thing.

    But nice attempt to deflect my questioning of _your_ ethics and standards by pulling out the Bush card.

  21. #21

    Great. Thanks. Take them at their word. Print their press release. Leave their words up there. Don't qualify them or, god forbid, wait for any sort of independent corroboration or verification before printing them as truth.
    Just make clear in your title that is what you are doing.
    Because "Gray Campaign Becomes Victim of Crank Caller" has a completely different meaning than "Gray Campaign CLAIMS TO BE Victim of Crank Caller" or even "Hundreds of People Annoyed by Apparently Inadvertent Calls Originating from Gray Campaign".
    And I really don't understand how you can fail to grasp the difference.
    Good night for real, this time.
    John- Keep a close eye on the "W" key on your keyboard. LOL.

  22. #22

    Ok. Enough with Gray calling Wolf ever five seconds.

    Fenty was responsible for Gray's house being broken into. He was responsible for Harry thomas getting his car booted for not paying tickets. Fenty even stole Kwame Brown's credit card and ran up the bill. Now, he is stealing thier phone numbers. That, after he steals thier signs.

    Seriously, they say it is a "Prank Call" but no one says anything. That isn't a crank call.

    It is called a GIANT BUTT DIAL. And, you screwed up.

    And, how is the world would someone be able to fake the number being recieved by the caller. And do it hundreds of times?

    Gray, after you find out that Barry's 1994 auto dialer system is defective, are you going to apologize to Fenty for the insinuation? Or course not.

  23. #23

    Rez, this must be we agree week. That headline is not accurate. But you know this is the city paper. They don't have the best track record when it comes to journalist ethics.

    To be fair, Jason probably doesn't write the headlines. He writes the unverified article. The headline is like the fruit of the poisonous tree.

  24. maserfentyaintnogood

    CP has it right since I noticed that the folks complainig are maser fenty kool aid zombies who probably work for him or have a contract from the dc government. Your headline is on the right trail. Keep up the good work that the WP is failing to do.

  25. #25

    Actually the City Paper has a long history of being prompt and direct about corrections to stories:


    Oh wait... "404 Page Not Found". [insert joke about Amanda Hess' terrible writing]

  26. #26


  27. #27


    Do you understand the difference between a suggestion and an actual accusation? Clearly not.

    You are criticizing Gray's people for what you "think" they may have meant by what they didn't actually say. Many things in politics are insinuated. However, unless you have some sort of evidence to prove the title wrong, at this point, and considering the MPD and Verizon involvement, we have to go on what we know..which is what has been reported thus far. It's silly of you to ask Jason to rewrite a headline just because YOU don't have the facts before you.

    Should we reasonably conclude that Michelle Rhee really doesn't give a damn about anyone other than herself since she actually SAID that she didn't think she would stick around in a Gray Administration. Using your logic, it's fair to assume that she has no interest in the kids..only her career.

    Are you smarter than a 3rd grader? The investigative process involves guess what? It requires you to investigate a matter with "something" in mind which helps you decide what did or did not happen. Have you ever heard of an investigation being launched based on the wrong assumption only to find out a later truth? Then what's the difference here other than your incessant need to correct what at this point doesn't need correcting. Rewriting the headline to reflect the word prank in quotes doesn't change much of anything.

    I suggest you take your energy and find out what's going on in Fenty/Moten land. If you have an actual interest in this, don't have the reporter do your job for you. Call the MPD and get a response from them. You obviously have access to a computer and likely a phone, stop being a lazy ass and do your own work.

  28. #28

    @DCGuy: Oh that's rich. Now its the responsibility of the reader to go out and do the investigative journalism for the professional journalist, or shut up and let him publish the slant.

    Unbelievable. Why is journalism dropping down in the public's esteem to Congressional levels? I give you this article and this post.

    @Jason: It's nice to see you have taken this discussion so closely to heart that now this unsupported assertion has made the highlighted section on the front page of the site. If you follow the WaPo standards, we can expect any corrections or retractions to be added as an "update" to this article sometime in the next few weeks, after it has been archived.

    (See: "White House Vandalism", most assertions from the admin, P1! Articles noting no proof, and that the previous assertions don't pan out...P5 and lower!)

  29. #29

    @Jason: BTW, for all I bash the Post for its history, and there is a lot to bash, take a look at how a journalist attempting to be professional handles this. From DC Wire:

    "Gray alleges dirty tricks"

    There. It isn't that hard, now is it?

  30. #30

    I'm still waiting, Jason.
    What's the hold up? Is the Gray for Mayor campaign paying you by the minute?

  31. #31

    @DCGuy: "Have you ever heard of an investigation being launched based on the wrong assumption only to find out a later truth?"

    That's why good media outlets use the terms "alleged", "suspected" or "accused" when talking about ongoing investigations. DCGuy, you are an embarrassment to third graders. Don't even mention them until you drop some more knowledge in your own head.

  32. #32

    Hey Downtown Rez - and what's the Fenty campaign paying you?

  33. #33

    Rz: Now, now...don't you remember? He's "The Undecided". Just ask him. Feh.

  34. #34

    This is a really silly issue. Both the crank calling and the concern over the headline. Whether this was an internal thing to the Gray campaign, or external, it was still crank calling. There is no allegation about who did it in the headline. The whole thing reminds me that I do miss crank yankers.

  35. #35

    You couldn't tell it was Ron Moten when you answered the phone.

  36. #36

    And the former LL, DeBonis!

    "Gray campaign says its phones were "hijacked""

    See how the professionals handle it?

  37. #37

    If there was phone "hijacking" (election and wire tampering, it is likely a violation of several federal laws.
    So I've a few questions:
    Why did MPD respond and investigate rather than the FBI?
    Was current Gray spokesperson (and former MPD spokesperson) Traci Hughs the source for this story? Because not only has there been no corroboration or verification of actual phone or election tampering, but CP hasn't sourced the allegation to a specific person, just "the campaign"...
    Has the FBI been notified, and have they opened an investigation?
    What does Verizon say?

  38. #38


    Well sir, if the reader is posting multiple messages to a blog expressing concern over whether this was a prankster OR a technical glitch, AND after pressing Jason to question the Gray camp, and AFTER Jason TWICE confirms that he did just that but is awaiting a response from them, you STILL come back with the same request, then YES, you need to take it upon yourself and do your own investigating. His investigation is done.

    This has nothing to do w/how the title is written and much more about you Fenty supporters attempting to prove a point. You could realistically care less about if it were a prank call or not. You're just trying to turn this into something it's clearly not. Go ahead, please support Fenty but don't keep these straw men coming.

  39. #39

    Furthermore, if we're talking about dishonesty, how's this:

    "If it weren't for Mayor Fenty's leadership...we'd still be waiting for development that serves every neighborhood.
    Fenty delivered: A New Giant at Camp Simms, the
    first major grocery store in Ward 8, opened in 2009.
    The first sit down restaurants east of the river,
    IHOP in Ward 8, opened in the last year."

    The above was taken DIRECTLY from campaign literature sent to Ward 8 residents. Guess what though? I didn’t wait for the Fenty campaign to “correct” their completely inaccurate campaign flier.
    The following article is from December 2007 announcing the opening of the Giant: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/07/AR2007120702305.html

    This is a link to the September 2008 article announcing the opening of IHOP. http://washington.bizjournals.com/washington/stories/2008/09/08/daily62.html

    Now if you are truly concerned about misinformation being distributed to the public, this should be of much more interest to you than a prank call.

  40. #40

    SMH at Downtown Rez. Off the meds today?

  41. #41

    How much do you bet the "crank caller" is some volunteer who can't get the phone bank to work right.

  42. #42

    DCGuy... nothing you've written "proves" anything and your analysis of the Giant is just laughably wrong. I want you to prove to me the Giant did not open its doors on Fenty's watch.

    Spin isn't the truth DCGuy, give it up.

  43. #43

    As time passes this is looking more and more like a user error or technical glitch. Otherwise, the pro gray people would be in full-on attack mode by now. But they aren't. Instead the regular crew is either silent or is playing defense.
    Strike one: "I don’t know who did this this, but I don’t put aside any possibility to tell you the truth."
    Strike two: "The Vince Gray For Mayor telephone numbers have been hijacked by someone..."
    Can we call the pulled Sherwood ad- the one that implied endorsement as Strike three?
    Don't be a a tool, jason.

  44. #44

    @DCGuy: If you can't understand the difference between journalistic ethics and standards and campaign lit, I can't help you. Ditto on doing the basics of a journalists job for them.

  45. #45

    Northwesterner, uhm, I posted the exact phrase from the campaign's literature with the accompanying links to the announcements. I challenge you to find any post from me stating that the Giant didn't open under Fenty's watch. I'll save you the trouble. I never said it. If you bothered to read and not try to prove ME wrong, what I said is that the campaign LIED about WHEN the Giant opened. As noted by the links, neither GIANT nor IHOP opened in 2009 as the literature suggests. This seems consistent with the oft-mentioned accusation that Fenty takes credit where it is not deserved. That was and is my point and if you had the ability to think beyond the 3rd grade, you would have seen that. I don't have to lie about what's in front of my face. I have the pamphlet. Obviously you don't and the fact that his campaign lied about it means nothing to you since I'm sure you don't live in Ward 8.

    I'm sorry John but do you have a point? It was lost in translation.

  46. #46

    Loose Lips...you definitely have loose lips right now. Cause this is not a crank call situation. Don't be a loose journalist just so that you can reference Crank Yankers.

  47. #47

    You blew this one Cherkis. Undecided voter? Right.

  48. #48

    Truth Hurts/Downtown Rez: I did screw up. Should have put a "claims" in there. Will be fixing at end of day with more reporting. In the meantime: What do you think really happened? My favorite from the comments is the mass butt dial theory.

  49. #49

    Exactly, Jason. Thank you. "claims" or some other qualifier in the title is all I was asking for.
    I think they had a tech or user failure (or some combination thereof), assumed the worst, went into attack mode and called in the cops (still why call MPD and not call the FBI, as would be more appropriate, is it the Tracy Hughs/FOP connection?), spammed the media, and at the end of the day were left looking like fools. And unfortunately they dragged you along with them.
    But, hey, that's just my guess. After all, this whole debacle hasn't exactly been a paragon of open, inclusive and transparent process. Please be sure to let us know when they get back to you and what their story is. Or maybe we just need a blue-ribbon panel or two to look into it.

    BTW, Nice highlighting today in "The Undecided" of what I'd consider to be misleading media "strike four", if there is such a thing.

  50. #50

    Great Jason. However, is this going to be an equally prominently placed piece, or is it going to be the "update and correct after it drops from view" I mentioned?

  51. #51
  52. #52

    This news cycle is done- and the header stayed up throughout so it's over. Jason wasn't the only one who acted like a tool. Kevin Roubillard at TBD did too with this title: "Hundreds" of D.C. residents "irate" over crank calls from hijacked Vince Gray phone lines". But at least this reckless and false statement by the Gray campaign didn't get more favorable play than that.
    My question would run more to what the Gray staffers told those "hundreds" of people who called their HQ to complain. What were they told by the Gray campaign? I mean, if a press release alleges dirty tricks, what are campaign staffers saying in a one-on-one over the phone?

  53. #53

    @DCGuy you are right on the money, dwntrez is a Fenty lover pure and simple.

  54. #54

    DCGuy, you can't follow what I write and are off on all these tangents. I'll put my degrees and my company up against yours for comparison any day.

  55. #55

    Northwesterner, does it matter that the Giant opened while Fenty was mayor? He did not "deliver" the Giant in any way, shape, or form as his campaign claims. DC, under Mayor Williams, sold the land to the developer with the stipulation that part of it be used for a grocery store. All of the hard work, zoning and land acquisition was done well before Fenty took office. That's the truth.

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