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The Real Media Bias: How to Vote the Story

Enormous tracts of woodlands have been felled in this country to make the argument that the press is chronically pinko or hopelessly in the pocket of the corporate powers, or both. Those of us who make our living covering the news can argue that we are way too disorganized to be capable of conspiracy, or that we are nowhere near smart enough to have a well-built ideology of any stripe, and many folks just nod and say, Yeah, but you're biased anyway.

Well, if we are, here's where the real media bias lies: Most reporters I've met in 26 years of doing this work are deeply suspicious of any ideology or party. What most of us crave and cherish is the Great Story, the characters and situations that surprise, outrage and inspire readers and ourselves. When it comes to elections, some reporters have a personal social justice agenda and some have deep, family bonds to a particular stripe of candidate, but most journalists get especially excited about pols who make great copy, the figures who, regardless of their views and policies, engage citizens by being over the top or larger than life. Here in the Washington area, the Holy Trinity of Metro news for many years has been William Donald Schaefer in Maryland, Doug Wilder in Virginia and Marion Barry in the District. When reporters say their prayers each evening, it is for the powers that be to deliver unto us worthy successors to those fabulously newsy pols.

Enough throat-clearing. For all those folks who've written in accusing me of being in the pocket of Linda Cropp or Adrian Fenty (about equal numbers of readers seem absolutely certain of one or the other of those positions), here's where the big blog's real bias lies. Here's your 2006 primary guide to Voting the Story:

Maryland Senate: Ben Cardin may win all the editorial page endorsements and the big contributions from party activists, but if you're voting the story, you desperately want to see the historic showdown between Kweisi Mfume and Michael Steele in the November event; this would be the first face-off between two black candidates for a U.S. Senate seat and the nation's political storytellers would be the richer for it.

Maryland Comptroller: Schaefer, Schaefer, Schaefer. And Schaefer again.

Maryland Attorney General: Doug Gansler is an old-fashioned district attorney in the model of the great big-city crime fighters. That he's stuck in Montgomery County, where crime is occasionally wonderfully quirky but generally thin in overall numbers, is unfortunate, but the idea of Gansler taking his energy and his feel for what makes good copy to the statewide level has many journalists dreaming about a local version of Eliot Spitzer. The other guy looks competent but boring.

Montgomery County Executive: A rare tossup in the Vote the Story sweepstakes, just as it is in the real world. Reporters, valuing conflict over consensus, don't see much difference between a Steve Silverman and an Ike Leggett. Both know their stuff, both would serve the county well, both have similar positions. And both would be reasonably open with the public and the press. Nothing going on here, keep moving along.

Prince George's County Executive: This is a tricky one if you're voting the story. Challenger Rushern Baker is essentially a creation of editorial pages and good-government advocates. He is the political class's obvious favorite over incumbent Jack Johnson, who is inexplicably beloved by voters whom he has served poorly and stealthily. But while Baker is the ultimate always-available politician and thus the early favorite for folks in the biz, Johnson has just enough of the rogue in him to make him the more interesting story. Johnson is the rare rogue who doesn't actually talk to reporters. He holds grudges and blames all ills on the news media, a move that bores us to tears. But many of us who dream of Voting the Story have a secret soft spot for pols who bash the press; if you think reporters are sadistic, at least grant us that we might be masochistic too. So, perversely, if you're voting the story, you probably have to go with Johnson. (Also, for those who believe that journalists prefer bad news, Johnson's clearly the choice, as the county is likely to suffer in many ways should he win another term.)

Crossing Eastern and Western avenues into the District....

In the mayoral race, if you're voting the story, you vote for anyone but Linda Cropp. Cropp represents continuity, which never makes for good copy. On the other hand, Cropp's dramatic turnabouts during the battle over building a baseball stadium showed her to be deliciously mercurial, with a newfound flair for the dramatic. So there's a good argument to be made for a Cropp vote in the hopes that she would prove equally prone to wild swings on other issues. But the journalistic penchant for embracing the outsider and the renegade points toward three candidates in this race: Adrian Fenty, Michael Brown and Marie Johns, with Fenty getting the nod simply because his candidacy is the most plausible of those three.

In the D.C. council chairman race, it's Kathy Patterson over Vincent Gray. Gray is, well, the grayer of the two, a quiet, unassuming gent who would be the better consensus builder of the pair, while Patterson, a former journalist, is the one far more likely to challenge the status quo and raise fascinating questions about the kinds of issues that reporters and voters alike care about.

In the council at-large race, Phil Mendelson, though blessed with the campaign skills of a soggy burger bun, would by far make the better council member and he is the clear and obvious choice of the responsible citizen. But challenger Scott Bolden is by leaps and bounds the better story. Bolden's fiery speaking style, his confrontational courtroom manner, and his penchant for staking out stark, race-based positions would immediately make him the rhetorical arsonist of the D.C. Council. Those voting the story will punch the ballot for Bolden.

Finally, I hate to break up the fun, but I should note that my own personal voting will not particularly match this list. Much as people in the news business love to talk about voting the story, my bet is that few of us actually do so in the privacy of the voting booth. I will vote the interests of my family, my community and the people who most depend on government's services. I will yammer on in the newsroom about the fun and frolic of voting the story, but in the end, this is serious stuff, and when I take my kids with me on Tuesday, I'm going to talk to them about how essential these choices really are, and about why they and every other District resident deserve one day to enjoy the full voting rights that every other American takes for granted.

By Marc Fisher |  September 6, 2006; 7:47 AM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

You're right Marc, journalists are in pursuit of the big story. Unfortunately, this breeds sensationalism (witness countless TV news spots on how XXX will kill you) and contributes to polarization (the over-emphasis of opposing points of view, rather than common ground).

So now we're left with a society that is scared to go out at night for fear our neighbor is a serial rapist, but we don't mind so much because even if he's not, he's got a candidate Y bumper sticker so obviously he's an a-hole.

Posted by: jibberjabber | September 6, 2006 8:35 AM

Well, there is a story to Cropp. How did a Council veteran and leader with access to all the money and power get trounced on the street by an able upstart? How could someone so entrenched in the halls of power get totally shut out of the news endorsements? How could someone whose been around so long and have so many natural allies get so lost at this stage? How could she run a campaign that ran so totally in favor of her prime opponent ("I'm more of the same.")?

But I geuss that's all old news at this point.

Posted by: Ward 3 | September 6, 2006 8:43 AM

Marc, what about the VA races? I know you love Jim Moran as a cornucopia of material - what about Allen vs. Webb?

Posted by: flunky | September 6, 2006 10:09 AM

It's a good thing most of us are not voting the story or the Post hoopla but, will vote for the candidate of our choice. Hey Post, there are more than 2 candidates running that can actually win and much more qualified than the 2 you have been touting as "frontrunners". Marie Johns received endorsements from 6 local newspapers, The Washington Times and all the Current newspapers and she has more support than you obviously think. By the way, most of my friends and neighbors have NEVER particiapted in any of your Polls. What counts the most is our vote, our interest, and not the opinion or percieved influence of any media outlet. As I remember, The Post endorsed Fenty's competition when he ran and won his council seat. It's about the people's vote!

Posted by: Ward 6 | September 6, 2006 10:24 AM

And what makes Fenty so much more "plausible" as mayor than Johns or Brown? I would expect someone at the Post to notice the implausbility of a 35-year-old lawyer and fairly new councilmember thinking he is qualified to be mayor. I am sure the guy's heart is int he right place, but that doesn't make him qualified either. We need experience as well as enthusiasm, head as well as heart. I would think the Post endorsements would be based on a candidate's ability to lead our city forward - not their ability to campaign or raise money.

Posted by: jem | September 6, 2006 10:30 AM

Uh, Marc, a little checking of a fact of yours is in order. The first U.S. Senate race involving two African-American candidates occurred two years ago in Illinois between Barack Obama and Alan Keyes (it wasn't much of a race, but it was the first).

Mfume-Steele, if it should happen, would be the first U.S. Senate race between two African-American candidates in Maryland, but not in the nation.

Posted by: DirrtySW | September 6, 2006 10:56 AM

Where was Fenty when we were trying to get the stadium built? This likable bozo would provide leadership in the same direction as Sharon Pratt Kelly Dixon and Marion Barry.

Posted by: No to Fenty | September 6, 2006 10:56 AM

Yes indeed, the Obama-Keyes contest was the first Senate race to pit two black candidates against one another, but that was a laugher; Keyes was a throwaway candidate on the Republicans' part. This would be the first competitive such contest.

Posted by: Fisher | September 6, 2006 11:11 AM

Wow, it sounds like negative campaigning is alive and well in this comment section.

My impression is that Fenty is so far ahead and has garnered the endorsements he has because he's been so effective and touched so many people. I know in my case he's the one councilmember to respond -- always effectively -- any time I've reached out to the council for help or for their position on important issues. Plus, he seems to have proven to so many people that he simply gets things done, effectively and quickly. That's certainly been my experience.

I suppose folks who haven't had that much exposure to him (or who back other candidates) might think his resume is too thin or try and undermine him because he's the frontrunner, but I think he's gotten all the support and endorsements he has because he's earned it.

Posted by: NW | September 6, 2006 11:12 AM

Looking for rumors on who would be the City Administrator under a Fenty or Cropp Administration. Got any? (I assume the very competent Robert Bobb will be going to the School Board) I say if there is no story, let's create one through positive conjecture.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 11:18 AM

So I see someone at the Post has the good sense to endorse Kathy Patterson. Nice to see a man not holding an effective woman leader to a double-standard, ie, the only "negative" that's been reported about Kathy is that she's aggressive and persistent. Noboby would criticize a man for displaying these qualities. Thanks for endorsing her based on her record!!

Posted by: Douglas Sparks | September 6, 2006 11:19 AM

Well, on Patterson I think you missed the point of Mark's piece. These were not his endorsements.

Kathy Patterson lives within a couple of blocks of me and she has never responded to my requests for her position on issues or for help? (contrast Fenty who, even though he is not my councilperson, always responds). I suppose she has good qualities, but she has not overwhelmed me as a constituent.

Posted by: Ward 3 | September 6, 2006 11:31 AM

That is exactly it, NW. It's not that he isn't a good councilmember, because by all accounts he is. That simply isn't enough to make him an effective mayor, though. Marie Johns, out of all the candidates, actually has significant experience in both the private and public sector and a record of getting things done. I can't think of a single 35-year-old that is qualified to be mayor of a major city. That simply isn't enough time to get the experiences and wisdom necessariy for the job. I not only hope he doesn't win, but that he stays involved in DC politics and collects a few more bullet points for his thin resume. Fenty in 2014, but Johns in 2006!

Posted by: jem | September 6, 2006 11:32 AM

Jem: I'm sure Ms. Johns has done a great job in the DC office of Verizon. I've seen her speak -- she seems nice, but I don't find myself inspired by her, as you obviously have been.

A number of people expected her campaign to catch fire. It hasn't. She herself put a lot of stock in the Post endorsement, apparently hoping that would help her rise above the pack. It didn't happen. I don't think things are going to look much different after election day.

Posted by: NW | September 6, 2006 11:45 AM

Perhaps not, NW, but it won't be due to my settling for a mediocre candidate. And, yes, she did great things as President of Verizon DC, but it goes way beyond that to a grassroots commitment to DC and its residents, both rich and poor. That's why she has been endorsed by long-time DC advocates and most of the local press, the Post being one of the lone exceptions. Please look at her resume and then make a choice. Speak to her supporters and then ask if she has "caught fire" or not. Given the media coverage, it is a wonder she has any support at all. I think it is well worth our while to keep pushing for the best this city has to offer, not the person we are told is best.

Posted by: jem | September 6, 2006 11:56 AM

Jem: Your opinion, fine, except for the "mediocre candidate" part. Fenty has proven that he gets things done, holds people accountable, and inspires.

We have a city administrator-based system here in DC, one that I think is perfect for Fenty's strengths. I believe he will hold the police accountable for engaging in effective community-based policing; hold the schools administration accountable for modernizing effectively and without waste; hold the city services agencies accountable for serving district residents, not landlords and developers, fixing and clearing streets effectively and quickly, and making government leaner and more efficient. I think he will inspire government and citizens to do better, and raise awareness for critical issues like self determination. I'm not convinced Johns will do that (and I'm very convinced Cropp cannot and will not).

Posted by: NW | September 6, 2006 12:04 PM


If DC had run-off voting, I'd say fine, vote for Johns. Unfortunately, we don't, and I'm sorry to say your Johns vote would in-practice translate into a Cropp vote.

What will you do then? In the event Linda is elected, will you wear proudly wear your Marie Johns T-shirt around town? Or, will it end up in the bottom of your drawer, like so many "Nader 2000" T shirts?

This isn't a rhetorical question- it's a very real one that good and thoughtful Johns supporters need to ask themselves.

Posted by: Mark | September 6, 2006 12:30 PM

Ward 3: One problem with a veteran political type like Cropp is that with the exception of her first school board race in 1980 and her at-large city Council contest in 1990 where she faced Barry as an independent and Hilda Mason on the Statehood Party is that she never faced competition. In 1993 when Cropp first ran for Council Chair against Dave Clarke and Charlene Drew Jarvis she got clobbered and finished a bad third. Assuming she is not successful on Sept. 12, her postmortem will be that she grew too comfortable, faced token or no real competition in most of her elections and forgot how to actually campaign against a real opponent.

Posted by: My 2 cents | September 6, 2006 12:38 PM

Fenty, Fenty, Fenty, Fenty.....

A simple forewarning,watch Steele, he is very slick, and did anyone notice how Erlich used a number of black faces in his campaign commercial?

Be very careful folks, there is some very slick media BS going on, read between, over and below the lines.

I like Cardin for sure.

Posted by: Frankey | September 6, 2006 12:43 PM

One true bias at the Post: you very often forget that there is a state named Virginia where a lot of your readership lives.

Oh yes, you covered the Macaca caca. But it shed absolutely no (zilch, zip, zero, nada) light on the POLICIES. Do we only expect a US senator to stand on the floor of the senate and proclaim he will never say macaca or do we want one who solves our problems.

For goodness sakes, please let someone in your dadburned organization explain what the candidates will do on healthcare, welfare, immigration, Iraq (other than for it/against it), transportation, global warming, water pollution, ozone levels in the DC air, homeland security, pension security, SOCIAL SECURITY, ad infinitum. When Mike Shear stops patting himself on the back for his macaca stories (ad infinitum), get him tp puhleeeze ask some questions that are at least 10% important.

As long as the media covers caca, that's all the pols will talk about. Until you press them to state specifics and then write so-and-so has specifics, so-and-so has no specifics, until then, we will always be stuck with a political system that relies on telegenicity and spin doctors.

Posted by: Truth B Told | September 6, 2006 1:16 PM

Fenty gets things done? What has he done besides get street lights fixed?

What has Fenty done about Sinclair Skinner?

Posted by: Huh? | September 6, 2006 1:24 PM

Truth B Told:
The problem is, candidates positions aren't sensational enough to get substantial play. I'll consider the Post coverage on candidates positions good when we get an in depth profile on a candidate.

Repetitive play, however, is saved for scandal, real or imagined, and most certainly overblown. As a result, instead of thought provoking non-judgemental analysis of how candidates compare on the issues, we get Macacca and what did Willie Don say? stories ad nauseum.

Posted by: jibberjabber | September 6, 2006 1:32 PM

By that reasoning, NW, why should I bother voting at all? This is exactly why 97% of all incubants get re-elected with little or no opposition. You're being sold a bill of goods that says, "Fenty is the front-runner and only Cropp can catch him, but not without the Post endorsement." Who's telling you this? The Post. I see just as many Marie Johns signs as there are Fenty and Cropp. I guess all those people are dreaming as well. I am not going to vote for a woefully under-qualifed candidate because he has passionate supporters and has made his Ward a more pleasant place to live. It takes a lot more than a graduate degree and a few years of professional experience to help this city complete its transition. Fenty simply doesn't have the experience or the background to warrant a vote for mayor - no matter how likable he may be. I prefer to cast my vote for my candidate and let the chips fall where they may. Even if it is a "wasted" vote, at least I know it is a vote for the most qualified candidate based on real accomplishments over a sustained period of time. Fenty in 2014! Johns in 2006!

Posted by: jem | September 6, 2006 1:37 PM

To Jem: It certainly will be a wasted vote!

As for front runners, sorry no consiracy, there are actual data records based on surveys that have real numbers to determine who leads or is behind.

Johns is simply no good, I don't see any possibilities and she's too fight in her, she should be standing on top of the mountain yelling what she will and can do, which by the way Mr. Fenty is doing.

Cropp is playing dirty, and thats getting a little old now in politics, and as mention before I am concerned about her health.

Mr. Orange, got scared and I think there was some dirt out there some where that could hurt not only his campaign but his image.

Who in the heck else is there???

But Fenty!

Posted by: Frankey | September 6, 2006 1:54 PM

Once again, you give no rational for your vote other than the fact that Fenty can scream the loudest or talk the quickest? Hell, by way of that arguement, let's elect Marion Barry again!

You give an assessment of Marie and have most likely never met her or taken half a minute to consider her qualities. No Good? What is this opinion based on other than naked admiration for Adrian Fenty?Soft? Yeah, the woman has no fight. She didn't claw her way from nothing to the heights of corporate power. That's something only a wallflower could do. She hasn't been in DC for years longer than Fenty has even been involved in goverment, let alone out of school, doing the work that the DC government refuses to do. You simply have no basis for your claims.

Finally, to say that polls are anything more than what they are is ridiculous - which is barely scientific and usually wildly inaccurate. There are plenty of experts who agree that polls are slanted based on the bias of the pollster and the politcal environment and all sorts of factors that make their usefullness in formulating opinions, haphazard at best.

I am sorry, but I prefer to do my homework and then vote for the candidate that best represents my values and hopes for the city. Fenty is NOT that candidate. Maybe if you took a minute to examine the facts instead of the rhetoric, he might not be yours either.

Posted by: jem | September 6, 2006 2:06 PM

Back to Kathy Patterson. I used my real name, Mr. or Ms. "ward 3". Why don't you do the same? If I were to document for you that Gray's backers gave in excess of 1 mill to the Bush/RNC/other Republican officials(who, by the way, oppose DC voting rights), would it affect your views on Gray? How about 80% of his $ coming from ineligible DC primary voters? Wake up, Mr. or Ms. "ward 3".

Posted by: Douglas Sparks | September 6, 2006 2:17 PM

See, the problem with statements like "This isn't a rhetorical question- it's a very real one that good and thoughtful Johns supporters need to ask themselves." is that they are used to bully real people with real opinions into going along with the machine.

A landslide has to start somewhere. A third, fourth, or fifth party must grow from something. A vote cast is never a vote wasted, or an implied vote for the status quo. A vote cast is a statement of the belief and the hope of the vote.

And the sooner the bullies stop saying "go along with us, or you'll be irrelevant," the sooner we'll be heading for a real democrary.

Posted by: sfw | September 6, 2006 2:19 PM

I totally agree with swf. We need to stop acting as if everything we are told is the Gospel and start treating each "pronouncement" with a healthy dose of skepticism followed by a little homework. Democracy is not a spectator sport.

Posted by: jem | September 6, 2006 2:24 PM

Fisher finally admits that journalists are stupid. That is the first step on the road to recovery.

Posted by: bkp | September 6, 2006 2:32 PM

I suggest you apply yourself to implementing run-off voting. It seems you and I are likely to agree this would be a good thing.

I never tried to bully you or said "go along or you'll be irrelevant". I made the point that your vote for Marie could end up electing Linda. Your idealism should not blind you to those potential practical consequences. Clearly, at this stage of the election, the numbers simply don't add up for Marie. Nothing anyone can do will boost her ratings by 20-30% in less than one week. You must in your heart of hearts realize this. The numbers might, however, add up for a strong second. A present national example of this is the RNC backing the Green slate in PA, a past example is Nader in 2000.

I'm sorry if you don't like what I write, but your objection is rightfully with reality, not with me.

Posted by: Mark | September 6, 2006 2:53 PM


I think you were responding to Frankey, not to me. I agree that we shouldn't be driven by polls, but as an avid observer of DC politics, I must add that (somewhat surprisingly) Johns simply has not risen from the pack. She hasn't attracted the support and has not (again surprisingly) attracted the money. These plus a Post endorsement were the things she needed. She did not get it.

I don't believe your vote for Johns will be wasted. I think it's fine to support her. I also think Adrian Fenty is going to be a terrific manager.

Posted by: NW | September 6, 2006 2:59 PM

and a wonderful mayor.

Posted by: NW | September 6, 2006 3:00 PM

Having studied statistics, I can tell you that (non-exit) polls in general are very accurate. It's extremely rare that the trend doesn't come within a couple of points of the final result.

Put simplt, Johns has zero chance. De Nada. The big goose egg.

And repeating the Kusinich line about "I'm electable, if you vote for me" is silly. The problem isn't what one person does, the problem is that person only makes a difference if tens of thousands of other people do the same thing. Each one of them has to make the decision to rely on tens of thousands of individuals to also make the same decision.

It ain't happening.

Posted by: | September 6, 2006 3:01 PM

Douglas Sparks: Sorry I didn't use my real name. I don't want to do that here so I won't.

I'm not a supporter of Vincent Gray. I live around the corner from Councilmember Patterson, near Connecticut and Military. I've just never been impressed with her as a councilmember because she never returned my messages to her office and never stood out as a strong leader on the Council. I might vote for her for Council Chair. I don't know. I'll be glad to consider your information on Vincent Gray and any other info before making my decision.

Posted by: Ward 3 | September 6, 2006 3:05 PM

So, I suppose all the polls that had Jesse Ventura in single digits the night before the Minnesota election are the exception to the rule? Simple fact of the matter is that polls are colored by those doing the polling. There is no such thing as an un-biased poll.

As for Fenty being a wonderful manager and mayor? Again, based on what? Five years on the council, a few fixed potholes and a couple mediocre years as a lawyer? The fact that he can orchestrate a decent campaign?

Marie actually was a wonderful manager for many years. As well as a passionate and effective advocate for our city's underserved populations. Fenty can't say that.

A vote cast for the candidate you support the most is never a wasted vote.

Posted by: jem | September 6, 2006 3:13 PM


Posted by: NW | September 6, 2006 3:18 PM

but I don't see any great movement to Johns at the moment. There's nothing happening that would give her any momentum. Plus, it's not like she's doing any great advertising blitz or anything.

Posted by: NW | September 6, 2006 3:22 PM

To those wondering where the Virginia piece of this item might be, there isn't one, simply because Virginia held its primaries back in the spring and has no election next week. There'll be tons to write about the Virginia Senate race and some interesting House contests too in the coming weeks.

Posted by: Fisher | September 6, 2006 3:22 PM

Ward 3: I appreciate your response. I use my real name only because i don't trust anonymous posts, and also b/c everything I say I'll stand by and document. Jemal, et al, gave tons of $ to Gray, but he'll be in Fed Ct on bribery, etc charges on eday. Perhaps he'll join Bereano as major convicts throwing $ at Gray. Check out tomorrow's City Paper. Perhaps their reporters will have the integrity to report on Gray's backers.

Posted by: Douglas Sparks | September 6, 2006 3:30 PM

I'm sorry, to say a vote for Johns is not a wasted vote...oh please stop this make believe crap and get with it.

No one is trying to convince you not to support Johns, but convince you of the reality of politics and realize (honestly) that your candidate is very low in why not vote for a leading candidate and then send a card, flowers, etc...of sympathy to Johns.

It's time to be smart...not egostical.

No insults but that would just be dumb.

Posted by: Frankey | September 6, 2006 3:33 PM

So Jemal gave money to Gray. I must say I'm not shocked. He's done well for himself and has been involved in civic affairs for years.

Bruce Bereano's not giving money to Gray, is he?

Posted by: Ward 3 | September 6, 2006 3:41 PM

Once again, to say that only voting for the "leading candidate" is going to be a worthwhile vote is to completely miss the entire point of democracy.

There have been many political movements, boiling just under the surface and far from the eyes of pollsters and many times the candidates themselves, that cause a previously unknown or unwinnable candidate to walk away in the 11th hour.

I would caution all those willing to vote for someone because they are "leading" to actually vote for the person you think is best and let the election play out as it may. Calling the election before the finl votes are cast is something the media does, not the electorate.

Posted by: jem | September 6, 2006 3:47 PM

Polling, by and large, is a reliable predictor of election results. There certainly can be surprises from time to time, but taking the margins of error into account will usually account for most of those "surprises".

Having said that, vote for who you want to vote for and for whatever reason you want to vote for them. Understand the consequences of your vote and vote your conscience. It's not that hard, folks.

Posted by: jibberjabber | September 6, 2006 4:03 PM

To Jibberjabber,

Huh? What the duh are you talking about?

You're obviously not voting in DC, so I would say your keep your weak analogy can which can be applied to your personal life.

Posted by: Frankey | September 6, 2006 4:26 PM

Re the issue of voting one's conscience, I certainly wouldn't want to discourage one from doing that.

But it's also important to remember that politics is the art of the possible. If your most favored candidate is dramatically behind and there are other candidates whose standings in the polls are close, you might want to think about who is second best. If you really don't see any difference between the other two or if you think your second-best candidate will win without your vote, then, by all means, vote your conscience.

If, however, the race is close and you have a clear preference for second, you might reconsider how important a "conscience" vote is.

Posted by: JRG | September 6, 2006 4:26 PM

Yes Bereano maxed out, and then threw a Balt fundraider on 8/8 that Gray ommitted from his calendar. Funny how Gray received 20 to 30 k from Md folks around this time. The CP reported it, but total silence from any other media.

Posted by: Douglas Sparks | September 6, 2006 4:43 PM


Plenty of people in the city who agree with you. Vote the best candidate -- period.

And the Nader analogy is, frankly, dumb. Nader was largely a protest vote. There were plenty of people who voted for him that didn't think he would actually make a better President than... say... Gore.

Johns is not a protest vote. She has, in the words of The Post -- "left her mark on the voters with her intelligence and ideas." As a result, she has many passionate supporters who will continue to stand with her.

On another note, if Johns were a MAN with a wealth of civic/government service experience and former Pres. of a $700 million corporation with 2000 employees...

And Fenty were a WOMAN who was 35 years old and never had managed anything larger than her own staff... and was admonished early in her career by the DC Bar....

anyone think this might be a different story, a different election, and Fisher wouldn't be calling HER an "action hero"?

I for one think people would be much more relcutant to hand the reins of this $8 billion, 30,000 employee DC government over to a woman with the exact same resume as Fenty... and more enthusiastic about the leadership qualities of a man with the Johns resume.

Posted by: GK | September 6, 2006 4:58 PM

Good move GK, but "what ifs" don't count here...what is, is what it is.

And you're playing the gender card.

If Fenty was a woman and had the same background as he does now, I will still vote for her/him.

How about this one, what if Fenty were a White Man, and Johns was a Black Man.

Posted by: Frankey | September 6, 2006 5:12 PM

We could do that all day....

What if Fenty was a Muslim, and Johns was a Irish Catholic.

Get my point, lets stay with what it is.

Thank you.

Posted by: Frankey | September 6, 2006 5:13 PM

No race cards please. Scott Bolden has claimed sole right to that cheap ploy.

Posted by: Hey now | September 6, 2006 5:15 PM

My only point is that Adrian Fenty, no matter how likable, isn't qualified to run this city. Period. He's too young. I will gladly support him in 2014, after a two-term Johns administration has done all it can for this city. At that, he'll still be a young man. Right now, however, he simply doesn't have the credentials to be an effective mayor, Post endorsement or no Post endorsement.

Posted by: jem | September 6, 2006 5:23 PM

Sorry, GK. I don't mean to offend, but you're just plain wrong.

The mechanics of the Nader analogy do hold. It is a fact that in 2000 Nader did take enough votes from Gore to put Bush in the Whitehouse. You try to make a distinction between a protest vote and one of conscience but, in the practical end, the distinction does not exist. It's a fact that today it does not matter why people voted for Nader in 2000, only that they did in large enough numbers that Bush won. It's an equivalent fact today that the expected 8-10% Johns' vote will not elect Johns, but it might be enough to put Linda in the Mayor's office. So, as with those who voted for Nader in 2000, the intent of a Johns vote will not matter. Only the vote itself will matter.

Given the very apparent inevitabilities, and assuming you are a responsible and informed voter, the practical effect of your vote should be your immediate concern. Most former Johns' supporters I know (and I know and am long-time friends with many) have figured this out for themselves already.

Posted by: Mark | September 6, 2006 5:39 PM

I actually like The Examiner's endorsement of Fenty better. It captures my sense of hope for the future. Not to take anything away from Colby...

Posted by: Mark | September 6, 2006 5:45 PM

Douglas Sparks: You reminded me that I had wanted to check the DC Office of Campaign Finance Reports to determine if Douglas Jemal, his son Norman Jemal, associate Blake Esherick (all three to stand trial), and Jemal's Company the "Douglas Development Corporation" contributed to any of the Mayoral or Council Chair candidates in the 2006 election cycle. The results through September 5, 2006 (maximum individual contribution for Mayor-$2000 and $1500 for Chair):
1. Blake Esherick and the Douglas Development Corp. gave nothing.
2. Douglas Jemal: Mayoral candidates: $2000-Vincent Orange; $2000-Marie Johns; $2000-Michael Brown; and $1500 to Vincent Gray for Council Chair.
3. Norman Douglas: Mayoral candidates:
$2000-Vincent Orange; $2000-Marie Johns;
$2000-Adrian Fenty; and $1500 to Vincent
Gray for Council Chair.
Total individual contributions from Douglas and Norman Jemal:
Mayor: Marie Johns-$4000;
Vincent Orange-$4000;
Michael Brown-$2000;
Adrian Fenty-$2000;
Linda Cropp-zero
Chair: Vincent Gray-$3000;
Kathy Patterson-zero

Posted by: My 2 Cents | September 6, 2006 5:47 PM

I really do not "blog;" however, I am struck by Mr. Fisher's notion that there is little difference between Ike Leggett and Steven Silverman. Leggett is a man with enormous integrity, who is a Viet Nam Veteran (U.S.Army Cptn.),and was a White House Fellow. He has two Masters of Arts degrees, one J.D. and two magna cum laude honors. He served as Chair of the MD Democ. Party and as Chair and Member of the MoCo Council for 16 years. The Post Editorial Board certainly realized this. Mr. Leggett was the leader for many, many initiatives that have made MoCo such a desireable place in which to live. He did not always take credit for the things that he accomplished. He's much to humble a person to do that. On the other hand,Steve Silverman,while a loud and often obnoxious voice on the Council who began running for County Executive the minute he got on the Council, has run a hideously negative campaign trying to re-invent and re-define Mr. Leggett. At best, his background is mediocre. At worst, because he is beholden to the development community he very well could destroy much of what we have accomplished in the County prior to his being elected only 7 years ago. I'm amazed that Mr. Fisher would be so blindsighted by Silverman's slick ads, slick talking and promises that he never ever will be able to keep. His "Madison Ave." type ads are expensive, indeed. Hopefully, MoCo voters are too smart to be manipulated. He reminds me of "Duddy Kravitz!" What a shame if he were to win this election. Ike Leggett is what we need in MoCo: a decisive, deliberative and trustworthy elected official--a rarity these days.

Posted by: Caroline | September 6, 2006 6:15 PM

I want to see Marie Johns in the mayor's office. Period. I think she represents this city's greatest hope. If "former" Johns supporters are really now former supporters, they aren't the type of people I would like to hang out with.

Are your beliefs are only as strong as the prevailing winds? Were the situation reversed, would be advocating Fenty voters to swing to johns? If so, there is really little left to discuss.

I have found that by hanging in there when times are roughest is when true miracles are bound to arise. If they don't happen to show up? Well, I will sleep easy on the evening of September 12th knowing I voted for the woman I think most qualified to lead this city. If this somehow means Linda Cropp wins, then so be it. She won't be anymore of a distaster than Adrian Denty.

Marie Johns on September 12th. A real vote for hope. Please remove the spaces: h ttp: // MCJ_Final.wmv

Posted by: jem | September 6, 2006 6:40 PM

Sorry. I wasn't trying to be funny. That was a typo. I meant: Linda Cropp won't be any more of a disaster than Adrian Fenty.

Posted by: jem | September 6, 2006 6:43 PM

2 cents: On the Jemal contributions to Gray, you missed other family members. The number is higher than you noted. One thing is plain, however: Gray wins hands down for $ from felons, disbarred attys, and developers in trial on election day. Other shady characters backing Gray can be found on the Campaign Finance Reports. But money talks, and maybe it will again on 9/12. Patterson can't be bought, and big money knows that. We'll see if DC Dems buy Gray's " One City" slogan like voters bought "Swift Boats" and "Willie Horton".

Posted by: Douglas Sparks | September 6, 2006 6:49 PM

jem: Of the 57 postings on this topic today, 11 of them belong to you. You represent 20% of the postings and that's the problem. On election day you will have just one vote--not eleven. Unless something dramatic happens to the Fenty campaign, Marie Johns will be swept away in a tidal wave. That's just the way it is.

Posted by: No Miracle | September 6, 2006 6:55 PM

Douglas Sparks: Maybe you should actually identify the specific contributions from the dis-barred attorneys, fellons etc and other Douglas family members. Are child molesters, gays, murderers, rapists, tax cheaters also included in your list of Gray supporters? I see where you are going with this and I feel sorry for you.

Posted by: My 2 Cents | September 6, 2006 7:32 PM

Just because I am insane enough to defend my thoughts in this particular forum (and you're insane enough to count them and do percentages) doesn't mean there aren't other forums all over.

I am here because I am a writer and enjoy using words. Others have these conversations on the streets. Or in homes. Or in thousands of other venues. Yes, I will have one vote. As will thousands of people just like me. Just like you.

If you accept that the candidate you've been given is the one best qualified, by all means, cast your vote that way. But don't try to say that odd things don't happen around election time. It's not over until it's over. I, for one, am voting for Marie Johns.

Meet Marie Johns! (please remove the spaces) h ttp: // MCJ_Final.wmv

Posted by: jem | September 6, 2006 7:49 PM

The worse part of elections are the campaign signs along the roads. Horrible, horrible litter! I vote for the person with very few campaign signs.

Posted by: Ow, my eyes! | September 6, 2006 8:09 PM

Don't believe the lies that Johns supporters are becoming "former Johns supporters"... the fact is her financial support has remained consistent (and not bad), her signs have increased, and she has improved in polls (she now polls 1st or 2nd in Ward 3 -- which votes more than any other ward, I think). She picked up the 5 Current Newspapers endorsement; Alice Rivlin, whom a lot of people respect; The Wash. Times -- which sucks on national news but is decent and more moderate on local news... so when someone says "I know a lot of Johns supporters and they're dumping her" it's either an exaggeration in terms of the number of people polled, or it's a flat-out lie.

and, by the way, whoever said something about the "gender card" and "the race card"-- they are not cards. They are significant factors in perceptions and behavior. So don't get caught up in one of the most ridiculous and unfortunate pairings of words in contemporary politics... gender card, what a joke.

Posted by: GK | September 6, 2006 8:56 PM

Mr. or Ms. 2 cents: Happy to identify people, dates, and amounts of contributions to Gray. You could easily access the same info on the public campaign finance reports available online. If you're challenging the accuracy of my posts, however, reveal your real name, the stats and sources you rely upon, and everyone can check them out. Intelligent voters can judge for themselves.

Posted by: Douglas Sparks | September 6, 2006 9:42 PM

Douglas Sparks: If you could, you would have identified the specifics in your so called charges on Gray. But you can't or its too much work. Most on this site have already caught on to you. I was a little slower than the others. If you were interested in Patterson winning then you should be trying to do something to help her--but that requires work. Its been fun--but I have other things to do.

Posted by: NewEra | September 6, 2006 9:51 PM

Ok, since neither 2 cents nor frank whoever have the integrity to identify themselves, or deny that my postings are true, I'll sign off. But first,my advise is to look up the Bereano, Luchs, and Jemal contributions, which are online. If either or both of you are really interested in the truth, you'll find it there. For now, however, I'll focus on voters who care about the facts.

Posted by: Douglas sparks | September 6, 2006 10:06 PM

Jem: You obviously care a lot, and you're right to do whatever you feel and think is right. I've supported Fenty for a long time, without pay or promise of favor from either him or his campaign. I'm supporting Fenty because I think he is the best candidate. I'm doing this based on my own considerable experience with DC government, and out of consideration for our future. I intuit from your writing that you understand that.
GK: I am not exaggerating or lying. I can only imagine that we simply run in different circles. Not only do I try to be a pragmatist (the art of the possible, right?), but in many parts of wards 1 and 2- the areas I know well- Fenty signs are something like 5 or 10 to 1 more than any of the others. As for campaign finance data, I imagine the period from about 3 weeks ago to present (to say nothing of the overall numbers) will tell a much different story than you do.

I'm comfortable with the points I've made. Jem, GK, I wish you both the very best. After all, that's the whole point of this election.

Posted by: Mark | September 6, 2006 11:19 PM

Many, many of us in this city are not moved by the apparent "frontrunners" and we don't give a hoot about the Post and their endorsements! We believe in experience and real concrete plans to take our city to the next level. I do not see that in Cropp or Fenty. Just a whole lot of the same with Cropp and a flimsy, fledgeling record of executive ability with Fenty. My voice and well-informed firm vote stands with Jem and Johns!!! Go Marie!!!

Posted by: Johns gets my vote!!! | September 7, 2006 9:28 AM

Losers, JEM (who i think is a woman and a feminist) and Johns.

Winners, Fenty, Frankey (who studys and thinks things through).

Sorry, your vote will be countless

Posted by: Frankey | September 7, 2006 9:49 AM

Hey, Frankey:

I think you should respect their passion and let them be. There's no gain to be had by typecasting people or calling them names- such can only offend.

See you at the election party!

Posted by: Mark | September 7, 2006 9:59 AM

Hello Mr. Fisher:

You got it wrong - in case Mfume advances to the general election, it would not be the first time in the nation's history for two black senatorial contestants: Mfume versus Steele in Maryland.

The 2004 Illinois senatorial contest gave us Obama versus Alan Keyes.


Posted by: Evelyn | September 7, 2006 10:11 AM

I am neither a feminist nor a woman, though both are OK in my book. I simply don't find the load of crap that has been shoveled down my throat this election cycle acceptable. Nor should you. Back your candidate, by all means, but don't dimiss legitimate concern with media bias because your candidate has been the beneficiary of it. Again, I ask the question, is your support so weak that you would throw behind another candidate because someone told you to? Are you so flighty that a simple poll is enough for you to give up on your hopes for the city? I am sorry, Adrian Fenty may be a great guy and return phone calls and fix potholes, but he is much too young and inexperienced to be our mayor. Fenty in 2014. Johns in 2006!

Posted by: jem | September 7, 2006 10:41 AM

Ok, my apologies to the losers.

I mean calling you a loser.

Ok, calling you a feminist.

No harm done I hope. I respect your opinion although weak.

Posted by: Frankey | September 7, 2006 12:12 PM

Too young vs. no back bone...hmmmm

One in the same....

Johns has no voice....if she does I haven't heard it, not one ounce.

How is it that her age is a factor for you, she doesn't know how to govern, or hasn't been in politics for that long either. So why is it you think she has an advantage over Fenty?

Johns doesn't have experience either in my eyes, and I simply don't see Johns visiting A Street SE, and I bet you haven't been on that side of town.

Ok, you're a man...well lets work for her campaign?

Posted by: Frankey | September 7, 2006 12:18 PM

Marc, no one really expected you to admit that the press is chronically pinko or in the power of corporate interests, etc. Your first 2 paragraphs are simply an apology for the media.

Posted by: I'veHeardThatBefore | September 7, 2006 12:34 PM

If you think she has no voice then you haven't been listening. She has been on A Street SE. I live on H Street NE. You probably have never been there, though Marie has. She has done a lot more for this city than fix a couple of streetlights in Ward 4. You need to do a little homework before spouting off at the keyboard. Marie has worked her way up from the bottom. Marie has dedicated herself to District residents since before Adrian Fenty was out of junior high. Fenty was a horrible lawyer, by many accounts; a decent councilmember, by some accounts; and will be an absolute disaster as mayor, no matter how you count. He is simply too young. Period. Passion is not enough to run a city.

Posted by: jem | September 7, 2006 2:03 PM

re: Nader.

"Unfortunately, we don't, and I'm sorry to say your Johns vote would in-practice translate into a Cropp vote."

Why would you assume that a Johns supporter would prefer Fenty over Cropp? Fenty's got no experience, and a bundle of unanswered questions (

So if Johns can't win, I'm voting for Cropp. Hell, Tony Williams' endorsement is good enough for me.


Posted by: ibc | September 7, 2006 2:20 PM

I'm really bothered by Adrian Fenty and his approach to crime issues.

I am still shocked about the 'execution style' killing of 17-year-old Cynthia Gray on Benning Road a few weeks ago.

This kind of crime is downright disgusting. And in the midst of this chaos DC residents have to choose a mayor.

Some say that Fenty is running neck and neck with Linda Cropp, but I have no confidence Fenty can keep my neighborhood in Ward Eight safe.

Linda Cropp has been tough on crime. She is going to work hard to keep our streets safe.

Cropp will take strong action to crack down on crime in our neighborhoods in order to protect our seniors and children.

I am voting for Linda Cropp for Mayor on Tuesday, September 12th.

Posted by: Walter Cooper | September 7, 2006 3:36 PM

You live on H St. NE, you must be new to the neighborhood, so you're one of those, no wonder you like Johns, now I understand and respect your decision to vote for such a voiceless person.

As for me, I grew up in DC all my life and my parents, went to all neighborhood public schools Spingarn, Browne Jr. High, and lastly which I leave as a question, do you know where Blow Elementary is located?

Don't cheat...and I bet Johns couldn't answer.

As for the last person stating their position on Cropp or Johns....the first one I worry about her health...the second I worry about her backbone.

Thanks, and I await your answer JEM

Posted by: Frankey | September 7, 2006 4:51 PM

Frankey, whether or not a person knows where a specific elementary school is a meaningless question. "You must be one of those..." tells me a lot about your own prejudices. I guess you simply don't want an integrated city, huh? We may have moved here recently, but it is our intention to raise our kids here. Do we not have a right to adopt such a great place as home? I love my neighborhood. As it exists today and as it will be in years to come. Also, if I was "one of those" I would probably vote for Fenty. You may have grown up here, but it is obvious that your knowledge of the District's history goes back about as far as you do. The racial make-up of DC neighborhoods has switched so often since ti was burned to the ground in 1812 that you might call it schizophrenic. Once again, you say Marie is spineless yet she has been in the trenches for more than 20 years in this city. She has worked tirelessly, both as a private citizen and a concerned business executive, to make sure DC most underserved populations had a voice. You must not know a thing about her to insist she has no voice or no record of achievement. What, exactly, are you basing your opinions on? I worry more about Fenty's backbone than Marie's. He's a young, untried and untested man with passion and energy and little else in the way of real-world experience. I think he would be a fantastic mayor -- in 8 years. But TODAY we have real problems that a young man can't hope to solve. Fenty in 2014. Johns in 2006!

Posted by: jem | September 8, 2006 10:08 AM

How can you possible write both of these statements in the same post?

"You must be one of those..." tells me a lot about your own prejudices."


"...we have real problems that a young man can't hope to solve."

Posted by: Oh, come now | September 8, 2006 5:30 PM

I don't understand the question, Oh come now. He is a young man. There are problems in our city. It will take more than an Adrian Fenty to make sure this city works for everyone. It takes no prejudice to judge a man's resume and his record and to find him lacking in both.

Posted by: jem | September 8, 2006 8:05 PM

Jem, you answered my question, and thank you.

It's obvious you mis-read my comment, I am in no playing the race card, and how dare you assume I am a black person being prejudice.

Again, you are way off my point and trying to get me to lean your way and guess what it will never happen and tomorrow I will confirm it will never happen, but you my friend due to whatever reason have your head so far up you know smell of it.

So, let's stop here due to you insulting me a bit with assumptions...and wait and see the results.

I have a feeling I'll be saying "told ya".

Posted by: Frankey | September 11, 2006 12:13 PM

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