Last week, Washington City Paper polled its readers to test Washingtonian gossip Chuck Conconi’s thesis that the Squire of Middleburg, Emperor of Kalorama, and Lord of RFK was the “most hated man in Washington.”
The first round of balloting indicates that Conconi knows from whence he speaks: “Cooke in a landslide,” voted one reader on Washington Post stationery. “Nobody else is as venal. He’s the embodiment of evil.” (The Postie urged that we not bestow the “most hated” honor upon Richard Cohen.)
A “concerned Virginia resident” expressed her loathing of Sen. Jesse Helms, another contender for the crown, but noted that “he has never attempted to inflict his vile presence on me. Therefore, the clear “winner’ is Jack Kent Cooke, who actually dared to suggest that Northern Virginia would welcome his monstrosity of an ego-booster and phallus substitute on our soil. Even our derelict railyards are too good for the likes of him! I have not yet burnt him in effigy, but I have taken a newspaper photo of him to a rocky field and danced upon it until it was torn into a hundred unrecognizable shreds.” As long as you went to the trouble to work up a froth, “Virginia,” you might as well have attacked Cooke for his loopy Canadian heritage.
Marion Barry and Jesse Jackson garnered a few votes, as you’d expect. But the most pathological ballot came from the reader who cast his vote from the blackness of his heart against the entire Post Sports section. Leonard Shapiro is his least-favorite Post sportswriter, followed by “the other transplanted New York douchebag on their staff, Tony Kornheiser. I picked Shapiro first on basis of seniority.” Another torrent of abuse was reserved for Tom Boswell, who was characterized as a “fraud.”
“How could you have left Whayne Quin off your original list of Washington’s Most Hated?!” asked another reader, suggesting that we add to our list of candidates such Washington figures as Herbert Haft, Mort Zuckerman, Jeff Gildenhorn, Jimmie Jackson (president of the Washington Teachers’ Union), the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, JohnMcLaughlin, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and “any writer of parking tickets.”
So be it.
However, we must decline the reader request that Mark Jenkins and Jack Shafer be included on the ballot. Employees of Washington City Paper and members of their immediate families are not eligible for the prize.
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Complete results will be published in a few weeks.