Loose Lips

Role Reversal: Gray Grills Post

LL was feeling a little mischievous after a pretty dry debate between Mayor Adrian Fenty and Vincent Gray at the Newseum, hosted by the Washington Post, WAMU and NBC 4. (That was before Fenty’s wife, Michelle Fenty, grabbed headlines with an emotional defense of her husband’s character after the event.)

When Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli went over to Gray after the debate to introduce himself, LL couldn’t help but try and stir the pot, asking Gray what he thought of the Post’s editorial page. Which, in case you didn’t know, is very pro-Fenty. (And, also in case you didn't know, a part of the paper Brauchli has nothing to do with.)

Gray laughed, while Brauchli quickly said: “I’m in the news department, technically.”

Gray stopped laughing to ask a somewhat uncomfortable-looking Brauchli, “Is there any obligation to have facts when you do the editorials?”

Awkward grenade! Somebody jump on it!

"Before he answers that, I’m Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, the local editor, how are you , nice to meet you," said Brauchli's loyal lieutenant. Good work, Emilio, put yourself in for a raise. But Brauchli still felt like he had to give an answer, sort of.

“We’re the news department, I think, you know," Brauchli said. "Anyway, thank you for being here."

Gray: “Okay. That was a non-answer you know.”

Brauchli: “It was.”

Gray went on to lecture Brauchli about what he thought were factual inaccuracies in this editorial about questionable park contracts, an editorial that Fenty used at least a half-dozen times during the debate as proof that he’s done nothing wrong. (The editorial doesn’t actually say that, but does seem to imply that the biggest problem with the whole park contracts mess isn’t that taxpayers might have been ripped off by Fenty’s pals, but that Gray’s campaign attacks on Fenty are exaggerated.)

In related editorial page news: Before the Current Newspapers, which are distributed in heavily-Fenty leaning parts of the city, made its endorsement, Fenty sent Attorney General Peter Nickles to share city documents with the paper's editorial board make the case that the park contracts were proper. Turns out Nickles couldn't seal the deal.

From the editorial:

The saga of reconstruction of recreation centers is the most telling example.  When the council refused to turn over the long-delayed projects to the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization, the Fenty administration funneled contracts through the public housing authority, a way to avoid council review.  The selected bidders just happened to be run by Mayor Fenty’s fraternity brothers, who would have earned outlandish fees.  The council’s ongoing investigation may never turn up legal wrongdoing, but that does not mean the administration’s conduct was appropriate.

In the end, these distasteful elements of Mayor Fenty’s record propel us to endorse Mr. Gray

LL ran into Nickles after the debate and asked if he'd made a similar pitch to the Post editorial board. He said he "told them the same thing."

  • Nickled and Dimed

    Without Peter Nickles doing the thinking for Adrian Fenty, DC and Fenty's campaign would have tanked many, many months ago.

    Having a puppet master isn't a bad thing for a dope like Adrian Fenty, but when the guy controlling the strings is a megalomaniac like Peter Nickles there are a lot of problems.

  • John

    So lets see. Gray has non-answers on how he's going to pay for all the magic ponies he's promising, non-answers on Rhee, non-answers on "reinstatements"...not news!

    Gray asks a guy who actually has nothing to do with the Post's Editorials to either break the firewall and attack them or defend them, which he can't do...News!

    Gotta love it.

  • LOL

    John, I think you missed the "news."

    The news was that the Post was convinced by information suppled by Nickles that nothing was improper, but that same information could not convince the Current.

    The points that you raise are important. It just wasn't really go to the heart of the matter which was what information is used when crafting an editorial.

  • John

    No, I did not. If LL wanted to discuss that he could have just written an article about it. He didn't.

    Instead, he openly admits he manufactured an event (journalistic no-no #1) to write about. Moreover, as a journalist he understands the firewall between editorial and news, and that someone in news wouldn't be able to address the event he manufactured...but he writes about it as though they could and pretends it's "news"(no-no #2).

    On the different Editorial board behavior...duh. Different boards have different views and standards, and the editorial sections are biased openly, thus the internal ethical firewall. This is also not "news". Anyone want to say that given the same set of data the Examiner, Post, and Times will all agree?

  • Trulee Pist

    @John, you really are missing the point. LL is saying the Current editorial board showed spine in the face of Nickles-style bullying. The WaPo board is easy-sleazy. His "reporting" consists of (1.) learning that both edit boards got the same business from Nickles, and (2.) the evidence of his own eyes in reading the competing editorials.

    The fact that he had this discussion with Gray and the Exec Edit of the news side of WaPo is just color for the story.

    And that nobody leapt to the WaPo edit board's defense is kinda sad, really.

  • http://deleted TripLBee

    I was dumbfounded by the Post's editorials over the weekend. If they want to endorse Fenty, that's fine. But the editorials were essentially lying to the public. It is baffling to watch the descent of the Washington Post. Their coverage of Fenty and Rhee reminds me of the "fair and balanced" reporting we see on Fox News.

  • downtown rez

    Everyone in the know knows Gray and his independent investigator hasn't found any wrongdoing. It's the same smear-campaign story as his other "investigations". Every single one has come up empty.
    Hell, it's obvious. If Gray had any actual dirt, he'd call a press conference to announce it. After all, this is a guy who's 1) insinuated to CP that the Mayor ordered a break in on his personal residence, who 2) issued a press release and called the cops over some bullshit trumped up campaign phone hijacking charge (see: buttdialgate), and who 3) is willing to get out in front of his own "independent investigator" and personally and publicly hype to the press accusations about the Mayor on matters still under open and active "independent investigation"- while his own "independent investigator" has been silent as a grave. Oh, and he promised the results of this would be issued months ago, so as not to politicize it.
    What a pathetic joke. Gray has issued press releases alleging federal crimes that turn out to be lies, and you actually believe for a second that if he had any actual dirt, he would hide the truth?
    Puh-lease. Colby King and the WP Editorial Board have it right. Gray is being a glad-handling and self-serving liar, and there is really no other reasonable way to look at it. Barry et al have taught him well.

  • j

    "administration’s conduct was appropriate.

    In the end, these distasteful elements of Mayor Fenty’s record propel us to endorse Mr. Gray"

    Hey I hear he often eats with his elbows on the table, too. Definitely a great reason to vote for Gray over Fenty!

  • the man

    Downtownrez, stop hating. you are a liar and a fraud. Most of the things you said on you post was completely wrong and ridiculous. move, sucker move.

  • efavorite

    I saw Gray's question, “Is there any obligation to have facts when you do the editorials?” as a general question about how editorials work.

    I have the same question. I understand that editorials are opinions and thus inherently not "balanced" or objective, but don't they have to be factual? I mean, is it OK for newspaper to express an opinion using inaccurate information?

  • SuperS

    Downtown Rez, see ya!

  • Southeast Resident

    Downtown Rez, you may want Mr. Fenty to keep twisting the facts, cheating, and mismanging on your dime; but I don't want him to keep doing so on mine. Most DC residents hopefully will see it the same way and put him on the unemployment line where he belongs. The Summer Youth Program was mismanged in every year of his tenure wasting millions of dollars. Youth rehabilitation services has been a disaster. Employment Services is doing an abysmal job. First source is not being enforced. Changing schools to charters by Ms. Rhee of DCPS or her contracting them out is being used to justify negligible increases in performance, while sending the cost of education through the roof. Then there was the Technology Office scam that bilked the city out of money. Truancy is still a problem that MPD can't get its arms around. It still takes a middle man to get a permit approved at DCRA. A law violator who received a performance bonus. There was the Fenty scam to give city assets away to another country no less, including a director who had the nerve to lie about knowing about it and who was not reprimanded. Then there was Fenty violating a Council order to keep day care centers open which included a dismissal of recreation workers to enable a cast off from DCPS to fluff her office with high paid administrative staff. You just can't make all of this stuff up! The stories in this Fenty horror show go on and on. It is about more than contract review! Talk about bad old days! How about bad present days! Cronyism, mismanagment, and arrogance, need to be replaced by integrity and professionalism at the Wilson Building in the Office of the Mayor. That is what Vince Gray will do!