Few people are able to spin numbers better than journalists and politicians. During the last District of Columbia mayoral campaign, The Washington Post did its best to mask over the public’s disapproval of former D.C. Adrian M. Fenty as he sought re-election. Not only did The Washington Post spin Mr. Fenty’s disappointing poll numbers to reflect overall public approval of his alleged accomplishments, it (as well as other journalists) also spun numbers to support its desire to make former DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee a heroine in the District’s public education reform movement.
A just released Clarus Poll shows Mayor Gray’s performance “approval rating is 31% and his disapproval rating is 40%. Twenty-nine percent of D.C. voters do not yet have an opinion of the mayor’s performance at this early stage of his tenure.” “The survey also shows that Council Chairman Kwame Brown’s job rating is decidedly negative with 27% approval and 43% disapproval.” In reality, the public does see some early missteps.
However, it is clear The Washington Post and some local journalists do not have favorable views of Mayor Gray and Chairman Brown. The Washington Post and some reporters are intellectually dishonest, hypocritical, and display a minimal adherence to fairness and equity in their profession.
It is also obvious there is a philosophical link between The Washington Post and the D.C. Republican Party leadership. The tide of negative stories about Mayor Gray and Chairman Brown are published to discredit their character and leadership. The Washington Post holds itself to be above criticism, while it publishes harsh criticisms of others. The Washington Post, through its editorial and news rooms, clandestinely wants to undue the past election.
The DCGOP is beating itself because it could not or did not field a viable candidate for Mayor and Council Chairman in the 2010 District election. The best the DCGOP could do was to run a stealth candidate (Mr. Patrick Mara) for the Ward 1 D.C. State Board of Education race. After winning and within days of taking his oath of office as the Ward 1 State Board of Education member, Mr. Mara abandoned his pledge to his Ward and Ward 1children to advance his own political career and to increase the visibility of the DCGOP.
This joint media/DCGOP operation against Mayor Gray and Chairman Brown is also an effort to discredit the District of Columbia Democratic Party. The Washington Post and the DCGOP complain about the limited political influence of local Republicans measured against the dominance of Democrats. The DCGOP lags as an organization of great local political influence because it cannot separate itself from the images of its national political leadership and conservative organizational allies (i.e. Tea Party Movement).
The image of the Republican Party, pictured by House Speaker John Boehner, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, former Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, and the national Republican Party’s opposition to full voting rights and statehood for District residents do not make great registration boosters in the Nation’s capital.
Through an unofficial coordinated media campaign, The Washington Post and local journalists follow and report DCGOP press releases critical of Mayor Gray, Chairman Brown, and requests for investigations of the DC Democratic Party organization. However, it seems ethical lapses and violations of law are weighed differently by the DCGOP and some journalists, as can be noted by current political restrictions under the federal Hatch Act.
The poll numbers are disappointing for Mayor Gray and Chairman Brown. However, they do not reflect political deaths for Mayor Gray and Chairman Brown. They can be viewed as a blessing. Unlike the public’s view of former Mayor Fenty and former Chancellor Rhee, the public does not view Mayor Gray and Chairman Brown as having wide-spread ill-will against their critics.
But Mayor Gray and Chairman Brown must recognize these wounds did not come from far away sharp shooters. They were self-inflicted mistakes committed by themselves or the people around them – but they are survivable. When Mayor Gray gives his State of the District Address in the newly renovated Eastern High School, he will have an opportunity to renew his vision for a one city.
This political and journalistic circumcision can benefit Mayor Gray and Chairman Brown because it comes in the infancy of their administrations. Can Mayor Gray and Chairman Brown regain their political footing to stay in the fight for the people of the District of Columbia? Yes they can.
Will The Washington Post and some journalists intentionally continue to misreport the Clarus Poll, to misrepresent the public’s views, and to overplay local political events for headlines? Yes they will.
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