Loose Lips

Read: Fenty-Era Emails

LL's column includes a look at the relationship between the Washington Post editorial page and the Fenty administration. For those of you with way too much time on your hands, take a look at these pages and pages of emails between Fenty staffers and Post writers.

As LL noted in his column, you won't find any smoking gun proving the widely-held belief that editorial writer Jo-Ann Armao was playing for the Green Team. Instead, it looks like she had a very good relationship with former Attorney General Peter Nickles, the de facto mayor under Adrian Fenty and probably the best source for a reporter to have in that administration.

You will find Nickles doing far more than an impartial attorney general probably should, including spending his time trying to help Armao write negative things about Vince Gray when he was gearing up/running for mayor against Fenty. When Gray called Nickles a "political hatchet man" last summer, he wasn't blowing smoke.

Armao does deserve a dinging for writing this recent editorial criticizing city officials for using private email addresses to do city business. By LL's calculations, that editorial should have been written about four years ago—when Armao herself exchanged emails with Fenty on a private account. It's also worth noting that Nickles, on occasion, used a private account, though not with Armao.

There are lots of other tidbits in there, but LL will leave those as surprises.


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Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Sane Person

    Who cares? Aren't they just doing their jobs?

  • Cat Like

    Why do you say there are no smoking gun but you have evidence they wrote articles with city staff. That gun is smoking.

  • Drez

    @Cat Like
    Because sane competent government cultivates good PR. And works with other centers of power (including the private entities, civic groups, the press...etc) to further goals where possible.

  • Charlie

    While there is no smoking gun, there is the distinct odor of gunpowder.

  • Drez

    This being DC, said gunpowder odor eminates from every think tank, government office building, university, news bureau, trade association, civic group, nonprofit, etc, and so permeates the air.
    It's as though Mao was speaking of The Mall on the 4th of July when he said " Let a hundred flowers blossom".

  • Anothernative

    @Drez,I see you're still standing in the septic tank and swearing that it's not stinking.

  • Drez

    No more than any other place, and less than many.
    How are those federal investigations coming?

  • SEis4ME

    Drez, the sad thing is that you actually have convinced yourself that there is truth in what you say.

    No Administration, whether Fenty NOR Gray should use a newspaper as a PR campaign. Newspapers should not be in the business of picking and choosing to what extent it will give "fair" and "unbiased" coverage to its elected officials.

  • michaeliceman

    Ok….but let’s not be naïve.

    EVERY major metropolitan newspaper endorses candidates and helps direct policy. In exchange for that, the newspapers expect access and lots of it if that candidate wins. Anybody who thinks that newspapers are completely objective does not read either the Post or the Washington Times.

    On the other hand, EVERY office-holder makes an effort to positively cultivate the press so that he/she gets positive coverage. Normally, this is on the reporting side, but it often spills over into the editorial side of the house. It is neither uncommon nor surprising. It is the way it is everywhere

  • SEis4ME

    @Michael, there is no such thing as complete objectivity. However, have you ever heard of a case where a city's Attorney General is actively engaging with the press, although that office should be the most non-partisan of them all. It's not his "persona" attorney we're talking about. It's the man who's supposed to represent the city (without prejudice) in legal matters. And that's the person who had an affair with Armao. Not the mayor's communications director, liaison, or chief of Staff, but the city's attorney general.

    You can slice and dice it anyway you want, but that is NOT common.

    You people and your excuses.

  • Really?

    @Drez…ahhh man our is truce over! There is a huge difference between cultivate and dictate. What the washpost and Joanne and the get fresh crew did was allow an administration to utilize their medium (i.e. all reporters in print washpost and online) to further their agenda (write, wrong or indifferent) and dictate, word-for-word how and what to write.

    Why is this a problem? Because without the Washington post “disclosing” the close relationship between the Fenty Administration, they then leave themselves open to scrutiny and question about their true motives. Furthermore, they take off the table their ability to be objective in questioning choices made by the administration. So, if anybody is ok with that then they should just shut their trap whenever anyone accuses them of being biased.

    Really? Why is this dangerous? Great, great question kiddies. Because the washingtonpost is a huge conglomerate that is internationally recognized and they are able to write the narrative and some may say history on topics such as “local politics”. The millions of readers (online and hard copy) outside the District’s boarders don’t understand the nuances and politically complicated relationship between DC constituents and the Fenty administration and relied on the washingpost to provide an objective assessment.

    In fact it was the washingtonpost that created and pushed the narrative that Fenty was just aloof.They didn’t even want to knowledge the myriad of issues he had. Many of which the Post are now accusing the Gray administration of.

    Rules for ya’ll and Rules for us?

    Exhibit A…ladies and gentlemen proves that the Washingtonpost can’t be objective at all and in fact breathes life into the conversation (on the streets of course) in that there is a bigger entity that is unhappy with the Districts residents choice of leadership and one tool that is being used is the Washingtonpost to print and post continual same stories about the Mayor and council. No new information, but it’s effective because it keeps the issue at the forefront of readers minds.

    Trash is still being picked up, schools open on time (Nawh DC didn’t fall without Rhee), DMV is still pumping out licenses, boots are still being strap onto back wheels and tickets are still being issued. But yet if you read just the post you would think shit is still is falling apart in DC


    Now, except for Harry the other two politicians transgressions weren’t as egregious as they are painting and in fact the last admin had more shit with them and the Washpost chose to look away.

  • michaeliceman


    You people??? Dude, I have consistently said that the Gray Administration does not get a fair shake from the press. Con-sist-ent-ly!

    And you do raise a good point about Nickles. I always thought of him and AF's goon, not the AG. I cannot argue with you there.

    And I also said the behavior was not uncommon or surprising. I did not say it was right or defend it. I think it is naive to be outraged like it a new concept limited to DC.

  • drez

    seis4me, really?:
    It's simply the way things work. Anyone who tells you otherwise either doesn't know, can't do, or is flat out lying.

  • SEis4ME

    Dude, I have consistently said that the Gray Administration does not get a fair shake from the press. Con-sist-ent-ly

    But that's my point, as the city's major newspaper, the WPOST relationship with the Fenty administration, did the city a disservice in ways that is not common nor unsurprising. We're not merely talking about a newspaper writing fluff pieces about their fav administration. It's beyond that..which brought me to my point about Nickles. No, that is not a "normal" relationship and I will not accept the belief that it was.

    @Drez, actually it's not. That is, unless you can tell me that the Attorney General of NYC, Philly, Chicago or any other city has had a similar affair like Nickles has had with Armao. We're talking about actively promoting an administration and refusing to allow the next one to govern..something the WPost has most definately done.

  • Drez

    Your charges are unfounded.
    What I see in all this is an administration and a news source working to mutual benefit.
    Access and information for the news source, message control for the administration.
    Similar relations happen everywhere everyday. Even today, in the Gray administration.

  • SEis4ME

    Of course that's all you see. You will never find much fault with anything the previous administration had done and your responses have proven just that.

    The logic you follow is just as ridiculous as Armao's recent editorial criticizing pols using private accounts when she was doing it quite frequently during the previous administration. But of course, this type of happens all the time. Major newspapers have always had editorials criticizing city officials for doing what they (newspapers) gave full-throated support to in the previous administration. You're right about that and such usually applies when a different party is in office. Not here, blast current administration for doing what you supported in the previous one.

    No, Drez, no matter how you slice it, that does NOT happen everywhere, everyday.

    and if my charges were unfounded, we wouldn't be reading these "private" exchanges.

  • SEis4ME

    And I must add, I'm not surprised that you see it simply as an administraion working in tandem with a news source. Most objective observers (of which you have long proven you are not) would say "WTF, why is the attorney general involved in politics." But not you...nor Truth Hurts.

    But now we see the dangers of such. The city is divided now and will continue in the forseable future. And that my cyberfriend, while surely beneficial to Fenty and his supporters, most certainly has NOT benefited the city.

  • Drez

    In response I'll refer you back to Alan's "no smoking gun" quote in the original story above. Its unambiguous. And from there it really shouldn't come as any surprise that I believe you to be, in addition to naive and possibly disingenuous, the unobjective one.

  • SEis4ME

    I see you took pains to avoid showing me a similar example of a marriage between an AG and a major newspaper. That's ok, finding it is akin to waiting for godot.

    You're correct, Alan reported that there was no smoking gun. That doesn't change the cozy (100% political) relationship the AG had with the WPost. That doesn't seem to be in question.

    Of course, absent any similar examples, you'll forever conclude that everyone does it.

  • Truth hurts

    Undeterred, the cyber stalker strikes again. Couldn't finish a thread without talking about me, even a thread I'd not yet commented on. For the record, Nickles showed poor judgment by inserting himself into political maneuvers re the mayor's reelection contest. Should've stayed on the sideline.
    Now it's time for cyber stalker to seek professional help. He/she's already exhibited several symptoms/traits on the US ATTY's list of warning signs.

  • Drez

    You would ask me to defend Former AG Nickles correspondence with Armao, but what do you think of Current COS Murphy's?
    After all, neither is designated as PIO, and neither would naturally be expected by someone who doesnt understand how DC works to do press duty...

  • SEis4ME

    That's easy. The city's AG vs. the mayors "staff." One is a nonpolitical (or used to be prior to Nickles) office serving the city..the other is political position serving at the behest of the mayor.

    Come on man, do a lil better here.

  • Pete The Lawyer

    Seriously? Still with the Fenty obsession? Besides the obvious who cares factor, ever check to see how hard Vince courted WaPo Metro reporters and editors? How many lunches with Nikita Stewart? They could have been dating for all anyone knows. WaPo Metro delivered the most one-sided election coverage in modern history and you're still picking at the corpse of Fenty. Get a grip dude. It's. Over. Kid.

  • SEis4ME

    Hmm..that's rather twisted logic there dude.

    Here we have a story detailing how the WPost (editorial board) played footsy with the previous administration and you respond comparing the editorial board to a beat reporter and continue this foolishness by concluding that the WPOST "metro" was the most one-sided coverage in history?

    Dude, please get the phallus out of one of your many cartilage-free orafices.

  • Pete The Lawyer

    no need to be so vulgar, SEis4ME. editorial is supposed to pick sides on issues and candidates, and it's not unusual for editorial boards to play favorites with elected officials. the news side is supposed to scrutinize elected officials and candidates especially with some sense of balance, at least as far as the beat reporting goes. look for a news story that takes a critical look at vince during the run up to the election. it's not there. they were so busy running fenty down they didn't even have time to subject his challenger to much scrutiny. that is the more egregious fault -- especially if the central premise is that editorial was in the tank for fenty. after a while anyone with a brain sees that and likely stops paying attention to what they blather about. news coverage is different. when the top paper decides to pile on the incumbent in an election while going soft on the challenger, that's when the public is being shortchanged. in any event, the continuing obsession with the fenty administration and the media is simply ridiculous.

  • Truth hurts

    True dat, Pete.