the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

February 6, 2006

New Post Blog Brings False Balance to Ward 3


The Washington Post launched a new blog today, DC Wire, which will focus on DC politics and this year’s city elections. I wish it luck, and so far it already has posts about the stadium deal and the school modernization bill, but I’m a little worried by the first post by Eric Weiss, which happens to be about the council race in my ward. It starts off like this:

Ward 3 council candidate Sam Brooks, who’s been involved in a low-key pie-tossing contest with fellow candidate Jonathan Rees, wants to engage in some multilateral disengagement.

Both have been saying mean things about each other for months. Rees questions when Brooks moved into the ward and Brooks says Rees may be behind negative web postings.

So Rees spreads messages accusing Brooks of fraud because of when he moved into the ward, even though the law doesn’t require candidates to reside in the ward until they are nominated, which would occur in September. And Rees spams Craigslist, DCist,, and loads of other websites and e-mail lists with messages promoting himself and attacking Brooks, often in juvenile ways. This week he apparently forged a message from the list admin to spam the Cleveland Park e-mail list, from which he’d been banned.

On the other side, Brooks complains about some of Rees’s attacks.

Clearly both sides are equally guilty — just as Jack Abramoff gave to both Democrats and Republicans, just as the Kerry and Bush campaigns were equally untruthful, just as experts differ on whether the moon landings were faked.

It’s not a “pie-tossing contest” if only one person is throwing pies, and so far I haven’t seen any pies thrown by Brooks. But maybe Weiss has learned the importance of “balance” from the same editor who slanted the scandal scorecard in Chris Cillizza’s Post blog a few months back.


  1. I too was a little amazed at the lack of balance in the Post blog. It appears as if some of the folks who are following this closely have replied in the comments section. However, I really wish the mainstream media would pick up on the intracacies of the issue, such as Mr. Rees’s lack of regard for rules and etiquette (ignoring bans at various listserve’s and blogs), Mr. Rees’s tendancy to choose both real and fake people to spoof and alias (Kathy Patterson, Andrew Dice Clay, Dr. Epstein, president of the DC Dental Society, Suzanne Jackson, a local Attorney, or “DC Police Officer Jose Magana”), and his propensity to spread lies based on the juvenile “I heard it from”, “I read somewhere”, and then back these claims up with a bunch of “me too” posts from the same IP address but different names.

    I suspect the attacks yesterday at the Cleveland Park Yahoo Group and the Tenleytown Yahoo Group are more serious legal infractions, as Mr. Rees actually used the names of the respective List owners to access the list. I hope the DC board of Elections and Ethics and other authorities are watching. It certainly does not befit the level of a serious political candidate, much less a sitting council member.

    Certainly the characterization that Mr. Brooks and Mr. Rees are on par in this is laughable.


    —Luke • 10:14 am, February 7

  2. Actually, at least for the Cleveland Park message, the forger just used the admin’s e-mail address, not his name. The name used was “B. Frank, JR. c/o”, followed by the e-mail address, and the message came through Regardless, it does seem it might have broken some laws, and the admin is filing a complaint about it.

    Keith10:32 am, February 7

  3. What Luke said. The Post clearly didn’t do ANY research on this and opted instead to use the “both guys are doing it” line to create the illusion of balance. I find it a little ironic that in “reporting” on a candidate’s pledge to (among other things) never make allegations against an opponent without providing supporting documentation, they did exactly that. The fact that they’re journalists (who’s very job it is to provide supporting documentation) not politicians, makes it even more amusing.

    Unfortunately, this is the same kind of intellectual sloppiness (presuming there isn’t a more sinister motivation)that’s allowed so many national outrages to go unchallenged and unreported for years now, effectively enabling those who perpetrated them. So, yeah, thanks Post.

    —A • 10:38 am, February 7

  4. I stand corrected on the use of the Moderators name. Here is the link to the post which is still on the Tenleytwon Yahoo Listserve:

    —Luke • 11:13 am, February 7

  5. Be sure and click “View Sources” so you can see all the IP headers. Do so on any post you think may be from Rees, and compare it with the address of the many, many aliases who have gone before on the same board (At least until he discovered email anonymizing websites….such as those he mistakenly included at the bottom of the tenleytown post referenced above.) The addresses of all the supposed private (and some public) citizens “speaking up” to support the candidate were, prior to December, all from the same IP address.

    I could go on and on but I’ll spare you the bizarre and frankly disturbing details. Suffice to say that it’s not just the use of aliases that’s troubling (though it certainly is) — it’s what “they” have said.

    —A • 11:43 am, February 7

  6. All I know is there are a lot issues that I care about as a Ward 3 homeowner, and everyone just wastes time talking about Rees. There is so much else to talk about…it’s very frustrating.

    Mike Panetta9:51 pm, February 7

  7. Hey Panetta, with all you’ve been doing on DC Olympics, Taxation Without Representation Stadium, etc…. *You* should run in Ward 3!

    John Hlinko4:45 pm, February 8


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