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The Washington Post found itself juggling story headlines last night after making a surprisingly controversial statement in one: Mayoral hopeful and Ward 2 D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans is white.
Evans got his turn in the Post‘s series of mayoral profiles last night, with the headline “Jack Evans, a White D.C. Council Member, Sets His Sights on Becoming Mayor of Washington.” After Twitter bafflement that the paper included Evans’ race in the headline, including some from Vince Gray campaign manager and self-declared election policeman Chuck Thies, the Post substituted in an anodyne headline that described Evans only as a “veteran political tactician.”
Post spokeswoman Kris Coratti says the new headline was put in after the original one “just missed.”
“The headline as first written didn’t convey the point that was made in the story, which is that he is trying to become the first white mayor,” Coratti writes in an email.
LL doesn’t see the fuss in the first place, but that’s an odd motivation for switching headlines. Whatever its faults, the original headline didn’t obscure that Evans is white and wants to be mayor.
In a statement, Evans campaign spokesman Jermaine House says Evans’ showing in a recent poll in Wards 7 and 8 demonstrated that voters are more interested in Evans’ experience than in his race. Thies, an eager media foil who regularly complains on behalf of other candidates, proved more outspoken.
“If I’m [Amazon and Post owner] Jeff Bezos, I’m apologizing on behalf of the newspaper that I own,” Thies says.
The article outraged Thies enough on Evans’ behalf that he went past the headline, criticizing the diversity of the Post‘s mayoral campaign coverage team (“None exists!”) and line-editing Post writer Paul Schwartzman‘s story on the phone with LL. Thies doesn’t like that Schwartzman describes Evans’ skin as “pallid” in the opening of the story. (Schwartzman declined to comment.)
“‘Pallid’ means sickly, ‘pallid’ is how you would describe a corpse,” says Thies. “It’s just a terrible word, and it just doesn’t belong in the lede of a news story unless you’re talking about someone who is on death’s door or a corpse.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery