Erik Wemple and Jason Cherkis’ “International Ignorance” (8/22) once again demonstrates Washington City Paper’s penchant for disguising ideologically motivated Republican-bashing as journalism. It is Wemple and Cherkis who are the ignoramuses, not Sen. Lauch Faircloth (R-N.C.). Rather than do some real journalistic spade work on the merits of Sen. Faircloth’s accurate characterization that the delay of opening D.C. public schools is “an international embarrassment,” they resort to sophomorically seeking the opinions of nonsources (a financial attache from Togo, a Chinese embassy official, an editor of a European-based news republisher with the word “international” in its title, and of course the manager of a restaurant chain with the word “International” in its trade name).

Before I read their article, my fiancée, a French citizen currently residing in Paris, knew about the delay and added it to her repertoire of jabs about the demerits of the Washington, D.C., area as a proper place to settle and raise our children. I suppose she got the information from the standard European press sources, which have no end of fascination with examples of how pathetic our nation’s capital is. Coverage is quite thorough and accurate, and the Brits, Germans, and French comfort themselves over their own governmental woes with hearty chuckles at D.C.’s expense. Too bad their derision is justified. Sad our nation’s education system produces such poor “journalists” as Wemple and Cherkis, who don’t even bother to check facts in their gleeful rush to slam it to Republicans.

More incredibly, the one valid source Wemple and Cherkis managed to contact, namely, Malcolm Kelly, director of advancement at the Washington International School, confirmed Sen. Faircloth’s characterization! The children of expatriates resident in D.C. are well represented in the student body of WIS and other area private schools. If WIS enrollment is increasing because of catastrophes in D.C. public schools, it is probably a safe bet that the D.C. schools are known internationally as a disgrace. People do talk on the telephone with their relatives about the education of their wee ones. But rather than pursuing this fruitful line of journalistic investigation by possibly talking to some expatriate parents, Wemple and Cherkis call a pancake house to get the insights of a renowned expert on global opinion who operates a Fryalator.

Let me see if I get this straight: Sen. Faircloth makes a comment that D.C. schools are disgraceful, which is true, and he gets a sneering article written about him. Wemple and Cherkis are paid to write investigative articles about D.C., in this instance about international reactions to a leader’s characterizations of the city’s schools, and they call a pancake house, which is irrelevant. Seems to me the people we should be writing derisive articles about are Wemple and Cherkis.

But Wemple and Cherkis were not satisfied with doing joke research instead of real reporting. “Faircloth would appear an improbable expert on international affairs,” they write. They justify this assertion and go on to bash Faircloth’s international credentials because he comes from “rural North Carolina” and “specializes in managing hog farms.”

Wemple and Cherkis imply that “managing hog farms” somehow precludes you from being capable of accurately gauging international opinion about D.C. public schools. By that logic, hack writers for yellow rags are incapable of accurately assessing the merits or demerits of the thoughts of a senator representing North Carolina.

Too bad we can’t export journalists of the caliber of Wemple and Cherkis anywhere, even to Togo. The only place they can get jobs is in D.C. at the accurately and derisively referred to “Shitty Paper.”

Arlington, Va.

via the Internet