Mayor Vince Gray hired a new spokesman this week. Pedro Ribeiro will be replacing Linda Wharton Boyd, who the mayor put out to pasture at the city’s Department of Health.
At a Monday news conference announcing the new hire, talk quickly turned to why the mayor was making the move. Some Gray supporters have long blamed Boyd, who flacked for Marion Barry when he was mayor, for poorly managing the press and contributing to the mayor’s rough start.
Gray wouldn’t talk ill of someone he’d just demoted, instead rolling out the old canard that the negative press his administration had received was the media’s fault. “I don’t want to be cynical,” Gray said, before speculating that negative news stories about his administration tend to draw more attention (and therefore advertisements) than stories highlighting the positive work its done. “All we’re asking for is simply fairness.”
The mayor isn’t alone in such thinking. Emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show Gray’s new chief of staff, Chris Murphy, going ga-ga over an article penned by avid Gray supporter (and mayoral water and sewer board appointee) Adam Clampitt in The Huffington Post. In a post titled, “The Mayor’s Record,” Clampitt lamented the media’s focus on negative news at the expense of the mayor’s accomplishments. Clampitt then rehashed vague and uninspiring talking points from a document put out by the Gray administration touting its first 200 days in office.
“He has personally met with the three major credit rating agencies,” notes Clampitt, as if that’s somehow an accomplishment worth mentioning. The rest of Clampitt’s article isn’t much better.
But that didn’t stop Murphy from singing its praises. When Clampitt’s claptrap was published, Murphy sent it along to his staff with the note: “Team—a great piece about the Boss!”
Murphy forwarded it to Karen Tramontano, former Mayor Sharon Pratt’s chief of staff. “It’s about time someone wrote this! And it’s just scratching the surface of the list of accomplishments! Feel free to share! Can you send to Sharon too?”
Murphy also sent it to Post opinion mavens Jo-Ann Armao and Colby King. “Thought you might appreciate,” Murphy wrote to Armao.
And Murphy sent the article to Mo Elleithee, Gray’s communications guru during last year’s campaign, with this lament: “If only we could get the mainstream media to admit this!”
Yikes. Good luck with that one, Pedro.