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."