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Weekly Standard Blogger to Plotkin: You're Rude!

WTOP political analyst Mark Plotkin is known for putting politicians on the spot with his tough questions. That's his job. And when it comes to D.C. voting rights, Plotkin's top issue, his passion is all the more apparent.

So it was today during a news conference on the Hill called by four Republican Senators, who were introducing an amendment aimed at saving the D.C. school voucher program from probable elmination. Sens. John Ensign (R-Nev.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) trotted out three D.C. school children and one parent to make their case: If they did not succeed in maintaining the voucher funding, woe be the students and parents who count on the program to escape their failing schools.

Fair point, open to debate. But Plotkin jumped in almost immediately with a bevy of questions aimed at connecting the struggles facing the D.C. voting rights bill, which was loaded down with a rider in the Senate aimed at stripping most of the city's remaining gun control laws.

Plotkin asked the eldest student -- an 11th grader at Archbishop Carroll High -- whether he supported the city not having a vote in Congress, even as Congress was trying to impose a voucher program on the city. The student looked stumped, and said a few words about people having choices. Then he smiled, as Ensign cut in to say the question was unfair. Ensign then began to talk about looking for a "Constitutional way for all of the people in the District of Columbia to vote for their member of Congress and Senators."

"All of you would vote for a Constitutional amendment?" Plotkin cut in. (If the voting rights bill fails, the city's only hope for a seat in Congress might be by amending the Constitution to allow it, which is seen as nearly impossible because of Republican opposition.)

"Would you let me finish," Ensign responded. "You're aware of the fact that there were two approaches. One which we belived was unconstititional, the other everybody recognizes is Constitutional. They will both get to same goal. There was a legitimate difference of opinion. ... I don't think the characterization of your question was fair."

There was more back and forth bewteen Plotkin and the senators, until the press conference came to a close. Afterward, as people mingled about, a woman approached Plotkin and demanded his name.

"What's your name?" Plotkin said. She asked him again and he told her. Then she introduced herself as Mary Katharine Ham of the Weekly Standard and began grabbing at Plotkin's press credential laynard, turning it around to inspect his information. Plotkin looked momentarily taken aback. After all, such rough tactics might be okay on the Hill, but that kind of behavior can get a person arrested at City Hall.

"I just want to be able to write up your rude questions," Ham informed him.

Plotkin said later that Ham apparently objected to him putting the students on the spot. But to Plotkin the students were "props" being used by the senators. As he spoke, the youngest, an 8-year-old in a red tie, walked up to shake his hand. Then the boy was off, working the rest of the room like a Senator-in-the-making .... oh, wait, this is D.C., where there's no chance of that.

By David A Nakamura  |  March 5, 2009; 2:26 PM ET
Categories:  Voting Rights  
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I was at the press conference. You mention that the happy little 8-year-old in a red tie walked up to shake his hand, so you must have overhead the comment Mr. Plotkin made to the child, especially considering your next remark, but you failed to report it.

Mr. Plotkin stared that upbeat little child in the face and said, "You want to be a Senator right? These men don't want to let you become a Senator."

What a big man. What a tough guy. He's such a "hard-hitting reporter" that he tells 8-year-old children that people like myself, fighting for his scholarship, want to crush his dreams. You also neglected to report that he kept harassing the 16-year old with questions about an issue he obviously was not an expert on (he's 16!)after the press conference.

This kind of conduct goes beyond unprofessional. It's reprehensible. He is a disgrace to WTOP. I will never listen to WTOP again and if you're reading this and you think his conduct is despicable you should stop watching and call or email WTOP and tell them what you think of Mark Plotkin.

Posted by: cubeman4 | March 7, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

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