Loose Lips

Conference Call Fun

Well, that was awkward.

A few members of the city's press corps were treated to a lengthy, uncomfortable, and unfortunately on background exchange between Mayor Vince Gray's new chief of staff, Chris Murphy, and Washington Post editorial writer Jo-Ann Armao Tuesday afternoon.

At issue was a blistering investigative piece Armao wrote about potential political shenanigans involving the Gray administration and the city's contract to have its grass mowed.

For nearly 30 minutes, reporters sat in silence as Murphy and Armao went at it over the contents of the article. Alas, whatever zingers where dispensed will have to stay private as reporters (including LL) agreed to let Murphy give a briefing on background.

Murphy later said on the record that the Gray administration is frustrated by what it sees as a need for Armao and the Post to "look for [a] bogeyman where it doesn't exist."

From the sound of it, Murphy has put a significant effort into winning over Armao since coming on board in late August. Gray has had a rocky relationship with Armao and the Post editorial board since challenging and defeating former Mayor Adrian Fenty for the city's throne.

Based on today's follow up editorial, LL would say Murphy's got a long way to go.

  • Skinsfan83

    What's done is done, Fenty is gone, and Gray is the current Mayor. Things have to change or else this city will continue to fall apart.

    Something has to give.

  • Truth Hurts

    What happened to the "open and transparent administration" one city promised the public during his mayoral campaign?

    Why does Gray's chief of staff demand that reporters agree to keep his comments PRIVATE in exchange for "briefing" them on Gray's role in awarding (or not) public money to contractors?

    And why in the world would the press, including Armao, agree to Murphy's terms?

    LL, you and your editors at CP should say "No Thanks" to briefings by government officials that are conditioned on you not reporting what is said. Bad precedent, dude.

  • hah

    TruthHurts...you just proved that you are an idiot when it comes to politics.....off the record briefings arent rare

  • drez

    Off the record briefings aren't rare in certain context.
    In the context of a nascent investigation they are suspect.
    Regardless, the Admin is going to have to do more to disclose and to go on the record at some point.
    Which seems to be all WaPo (and others) are asking.

  • AlHam

    This is too funny. Rather than complain about a search for "boogeymen", perhaps Mr. Murphy should start by ensuring that his boss and the administration can perform even the most basic functions correctly - for example, hire using a controlled process, free from nepotism, appoint qualified folks to cabinet positions and verify their backgrounds, and appoint people to boards who qualify to sit on them.

    Then we can tackle the current crop of disasters, like the lottery contract that Vince is trying to skate through without addressing, and the lawn mowing controversy.

    Folks, this is what happens when we elect those who have failed in executive capacities once before.

    ONE CITTTAAAAYYYY!

  • http://sinclairskinner.com sinclair skinner

    murphy can put lipstick on a pig its still simple contract steering. all companies local, far away, big, small must sign a first source agreement to hire dc residents. the gray admin doesnt have to steer contracts to achieve this goal all they have to do is enforce the currently laws. there are so many large firms that receive millions of our tax dollars that dont hire dc residents this jobs farce is just a cover up. gray willingness to exploit the high dc unemployment rate shows he lacks leadership, character and integrity.
    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dc/graynegativebig.jpg

  • SEis4ME

    Of course the dynamic duo to the rescue!!!

    Here's a piece talking about an oft-employed "off the record" conversation and now the nuts are complaining about transparency on steriods. That is, NEVER have an off the record conversation with ANYONE lest you be accused of not being transparent. From this write-up alone, it seems as if this was a meeting that should have been off the record because I'm sure it allowed the dialogue to ensue in ways that an "on the record" convo would not.

    Tell the truth Alan, do you think you would have gotten as much out of it "on the record?"

    The Post has been in Gray attack mode since he announced his candidacy. Looking back at their coverage of previous occupants, the post has taken on a much more adversarial role with the mayor's office on less substantive matters.

  • drez

    Tell the truth Alan, do you think you would have gotten as much out of it "on the record?"
    Did Alan get anything out of it in the first place? Who knows? He can't write about it.
    Whether Alan gets anything out of it at all isn't the point. The point is whether the public does. And they haven't.
    The Post is correct, and so is Alan.

  • http://sinclairskinner.com sinclair skinner

    This gray campaign ad becomes more and more ironic.
    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dc/graynegativebig.jpg

  • noodlez

    IT DOESN’T SURPRISE ME THAT SHITSTAIN SINCLOWN IS SUCH AN EXPERT ON THIS MATTER! “gray willingness to exploit the high dc unemployment rate shows he lacks leadership, character and integrity.” ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS? SLIM YOU ARE TRULY SPECIAL!

    THIS SONG AND DANCE THE MAYOR’S OFFICE HAVE WITH WASHPOST AND OTHER SUBJECTIVE NEWS SOURCE OPERATIONS HAVE GONE ON FAR TOO LONG. IT’S TIME HE HIT ‘EM WITH THE STIFF ARM HEISMAN POSE AND SHUT DOWN ALL INFO REQUESTS LIKE THE FLENSTER DID SO HE CAN GET SOME SHIT DONE.

    GRAY = OBAMA
    LOCAL NEWS SOURCES = REPUBLICANS

    AT SOME POINT YOU HAVE TO MOVE FORWARD AND LEAVE THOSE FOLK WHO ARE TOTALLY AGAINST EVERYTHING YOU DO BY THE WAYSIDE. IM SICK OF HUNKY’S, CRACKER’S AND TOM NEGROS CONSTANTLY TRYING TO PUT THIS MAYOR IN A BOX BECAUSE THEY CANT AND WONT IDENTIFY WITH HIM ON ANY LEVEL. SO THEY ESCALATE EVERY PETTY ISSUE TO DEF-COM 1. WHY YOU ASK? TO INCORPORATE THAT RACIST SENATOR MUSH MOUTH MCDONNELL‘S MOTTO THAT MAYOR GRAY DOENST GET REELECTED.

    GOVERNMENT IS FLAWED AND WILL NEVER BE PERFECT ANYTIME YOU HAVE HUMANS DEALING WITH MONEY THAT IS NOT THEIR OWN. IM DOWN WITH MAYOR GRAY AND HIS FLAWS BECAUSE HIS ONLY PROBLEM, AS I SEE IT, IS HIS LOYALTY TO FOLKS WHO HE PUTS TRUST IN. AS OPPOSED TO SOME FLIPPANT ATTITUDE DISGUISED AS MAKING QUICK DECISIONS WHEN IN FACT IT WAS TO BACK UP SHITSTAIN’S PROCLAMATION. SO WHERE IN THE FUCK WAS MS ARMAO WHEN DOLLARS WERE FLYING OUTTA OF DCGOV POCKETS IN THE PREVIOUS ADMIN IN RECORD NUMBERS?

    HATS OFF TO SEWERMAN FOR SHOWING SOME SCRUPLES.

  • truth hurts

    Agree with Drez. Also would add that this "private briefing" was different in kind from most. It was a conference call where Wapo and Gray's cos argued the merits of an allegedly rigged contract award. One that the media is covering. Yet the media agreed not to report on Gray's rebuttal. That's wrong. Why doesn't Gray's cos want the public to know what he's telling the press re this issue?

  • SEis4ME

    Hello Hello nutbagger!

    Yes, whether the public got something out of it would be a good point IF the public ever is "in" on every conversation had with every public official and according to past and current history - it NEVER happens.

    So sure, go ahead and create a gray requirement that has not been practiced in the history of government. It's not surprising.

  • http://sinclairskinner.com SHITSTAIN SINCLOWN

    noodlez you made my day. if we are ever in the same bar first round on me. i wanted to be mad but i could not help but laugh u got me with this one. sinclair "SHITSTAIN SINCLOWN" skinner

  • drez

    @TH
    Exactly.
    If any rebuttal was offered it should be on the record. If it was just whining about how unfair the press is, well I'd rather not hear it anyway.

  • SEis4ME

    So what "new" news does the Post tell us about the contract?

    That the person who heads the company was accused (but later reinstated) of improperly authorizing overtime pay for herself. This "person" as the post seems to want to refer to her as, also was accused of allowing city employees to refurbish her home almost 14 years ago. Her name was apparently cleared from any wrongdoing and she was later reinstated to her job while her contracted employees didn't have their contracts renewed.

    Then it goes on to seemingly indict HThomas and Gray as having "favored" the CBI over Lorenzo because CBI's lobbyist was a Gray campaign contributor who was appointed to WMAA.

    In short, the head of CBI is a former DC gov't employee. The lobbyist for CBI is a Gray campaign contributor and newly minted member of the WMAA.

    So there you are folks. That's the story the Post thinks warrants two editorials pondering "what happened here."

    Me thinks Murphy has a point about media coverage...a very good one.

  • DC Resident

    Like rotten fish, the Gray administration is beginning to stink! Only three more years of this stench. Sort of makes one wish for the good old days of the Barry Administration.

  • drez

    @SEis4ME
    You are leaving out the part about how "political considerations" justify cancelling a contractor in good standing and doubling the contract price- throwing away millions of additional dollars- by awarding it to another contractor, who happens to be well connected to both Gray and Thomas.

  • seDCdude

    @ #6
    Talk about BLACK on BLACK crime,

    And you would/should know......looks like ShitStain is supposed to now be the "establishment's" lapdog/pitbull in exchange for the egregious policies of his boy Fenty's admin. and for contracts/payments received just as Sulaimon Brown was to Gray "supposedly"!

    But in fact will be that pesky ass chihuahua we know his kind to be,

    A Fenty flunky is revealed each and every other day!other

  • Really?

    If one thing the washington media has proven is there is rules for ya'll and rules for us!

  • Drez

    ... there is rules for ya'll and rules for us!
    I'm sure the 300 DPW workers who were just let go feel exactly the same, Really?, though I imagine they'd phrase it differently.

  • Really?

    Drez...ain't noway you can prove that the washpo et al haven't been bias in their reporting between the last admin and this one.

    Oh and please trust that the word is on the street about Gray. You can't serve two masters and he can be replaced

    And in my Ms. Celile "Until you do right by me, everything you even think about gonna fail!"

  • Truth Hurts

    Those who believe Gray is receiving comparatively more unfair (or critical) coverage by the media than the prior mayor have poor memories, or simply didn't follow the media coverage of Fenty and Gray before 2011.

    In 2006, WaPo (dumbly) endorsed Gray over Patterson for council chair, an endorsement that likely won Gray the chair. By 2010, WaPo had witnessed enough of Gray's games to realize he'd be a disaster as mayor.

    WaPo's Nikita was an unabashed Gray cheerleader from 2005 through 2011. She was Gray's go to reporter and she delivered consistently. So much so that internal Gray administration emails from early 2011 reflect disbelief that his "friend" Nikita had begun to look into Gray's transition shenanigans and actually report the bad stuff.

    I've been a close observer of DC politics for decades. In my view, Fenty was constantly hammered (at times deservedly so, but often unfairly) by the media while Gray received only a fraction of the scrutiny/criticism aimed at Fenty.

    I complained back then to several reporters/columnists that they were giving Gray an undeserved pass, and they'd regret having done so once Gray became mayor. A few told me they were consciously focusing on sliming Fenty (more than Fenty) because that was their job: to nail the leader in office. They'd train their sights on Gray with the same zeal when/if he became mayor. I told them they were wrong and short-sighted. That it'd be too late to scrutinize Gray AFTER he was mayor.

    These were personal conversations with reporters/columnists I knew well and respected -- still do. But they largely shrugged off my concerns.

    At least they kept their words, though. This year they've zoned in on Gray with zeal similar to that aimed at Fenty. It's not pretty, but then again Gray's administration has been really, really bad. Many of Gray's former supporters have now realized he's not who they thought he was. A smaller number still believe in the one city slogans, so they blame the media for "unfairly" covering Gray's train wreck.

    The bottom line, though, is while Gray surely has received intense media scrutiny and criticism in 2011, on the whole the scrutiny is comparable to that given Fenty while mayor. So stop your whining (or go back and read Fenty's press coverage). Either way, it's gonna get worse, far worse, because the media has wised up and Gray's not who you thought he was.

  • http://sinclairskinner.com sinclair skinner

    wow that was real truth hurts

  • Crook

    See u later Vince "Dracula" Gray! Get this slime out of office!

  • SEis4ME

    Ok Truth, after reading that screed, let's test the veracity of your reporting.

    In order to accurately determine whether the Post was equally critical of Fenty, we have to make sure we're using the right variables.

    Therefore, please post a few links to WPost articles (especially editorials) during the period of January 2007 until now, showing just how much scrutiny they gave Fenty which you believe compares to the same "Gray" period of scrutiny we have now.

    That'll make you and everyone else's argument of the perceived bias real or not.

    Thanks.

  • truth hurts

    @noodlez: keep riding that train, it's a free country. But look at the railcars behind you ... they're emptying fast cuz most riders realize one city's train is about to derail and overturn.

    On a different note, loved your link to Rend's "Bamma" piece and your "fuck, shit, fuckshit" post. Very funny.

  • Really?

    Ok truth let's go with you theory that te press wasn't hard on gray when he was councilchair.

    But if you compare postive and supportive articles/editorials in Fenty's first year to Gray's you will see the numbers don't add up.

    I've said it before most voters gave Fenty 2.5 years before they starting hollering foul(and the most numbers include Linda supporters).

    The clock nearly ran out before the press was willing to admit that there were some serious question and issues with the Fenty admin. And ever then they spun the story to He's a jerk but he's our jerk and oh....it's just about personality.

    It was day two of the Gray admin when the Fenty folks started throwing stones.

  • sinclair skinner

    If you can't take being lied on, booed, name called, humiliated, disrespected,critized, second guessed, attacked, have family friends and frat attacked for no good reason or good reason, people turn their backs all in one week then stay out of politics and watch from the sidelines or blog anonomously in citypaper. If u can't take the heat

  • SEis4ME

    @Really, I would even give TH's "truth" even that much attention.

    Would we compare the coverage Obama/Clinton/Bush etc got when they were Senators and governors to being POTUS? Then let's not give second thought to an analogy comparing Gray (nor Fenty) as Councilmembers vs. a sitting mayor. They simply aren't the same.

  • Typical DC BS

    Poor, poor Gray. Now his mouthpiece won't even defend him unless it's "off the record".

    Gray is just up to the old DC shenanigans "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours". The same okeydoke crap goes on in any city (Chicago, New Orleans, etc.) where one political party controls all the levers of power.

    DC residents deserve this, as they continue to vote in Democratic clowns who don't have their constituents best interests at heart.

    Just waiting to hear the racial excuses next from this administration to signify their throwing in the towel on rational excuses for their stupidity.

  • StrangeFruit

    Mayor Gray and his chief of staff (cos) are unequivocally right about Jo-Ann Armao and the WAPO Editorial Board and here's all the proof that's needed:

    Do you all remember the when Mike DeBonis (he was working for the City Paper) broke the story that Fenty's people--Michelle Rhee-- emailed Jo-Ann Armao and told her to do an editorial on why Dr. Hartsock must be confirmed as DPR's director?

    Mike got his hands on a copy of the email from Rhee to Jo-Ann Armao, which confirmed Rhee's request to Jo-Ann and, several days later Jo-Ann wrote an editorial, via Mayor Fenty's directive, about the DPR's "saviour"-- Dr. Hartsock.

    Here’s the link: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2009/10/14/how-to-get-a-sweet-wapo-editorial/

    In addition, it was also disclosed by a City Paper commenter that a letter to the editor was published several weeks prior to Jo-Ann's --bias, dictated, agenda driven, propagandized, soi-disant editorial piece---that Dr. Harstock employee, Mary Beth Souza, also got published in the WAPO about the “greatness” of Dr. Hartsock and why she must be confirmed.

    Here’s the link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/26/AR2009102603234.html

    JoAnn Armao and the WAPO have zero credibility; they are unprincipled and have absolutely no standards. Typical strangefruit reporting of "their" good ole days that the WAPO and Jo Ann Armao longs for.

    Mayor Gray’s COS should have told the imp to go to hell.

  • StrangeFruit

    meant to type, "long for"

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