AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend has apologized for his offensive comments in my cover story this week on the mythical “war on cars” in the District. Townsend is presumably referring to his remarks about Greater Greater Washington blogger David Alpert, whom he called “a nerd” and “developmentally retarded,” and whose criticism of AAA on his blog that Alpert might not make in person Townsend compared to “the Klan hiding behind the white masks.”
AAA Mid-Atlantic just tweeted the following statement:
The remarks attributed to John Townsend reported in the City Paper article are inappropriate, and in no way representative of AAA Mid-Atlantic’s views. Mr. Townsend apologizes for comments attributed to him that were offensive.
It was never Mr. Townsend’s intention to be insulting and agrees that there is absolutely no place in the public discourse for personal attacks.
That said, Mr. Townsend believes that many of the statements were presented out of context and mischaracterize the discussion.
The apology follows a Greater Greater Washington post authored by 30 of the site’s contributors taking issue with Townsend’s rhetoric.
But it comes with caveats. Twice, the apology refers to remarks “attributed to” Townsend, rather than remarks he made, possibly calling into question the accuracy of the quotes. Then, it says Townsend believes the statements to be taken out of context.
I stand by all of the quotes in the story. Furthermore, I’m not sure what context could be missing. At the beginning of my long conversation with Townsend, I described the story I was working on and mentioned a few of the recent heated debates over cars in the city, including Alpert’s Twitter criticism of the Washington Examiner for its car-war rhetoric right after the paper announced it was ending its print edition. Alpert’s tweets drew reproach, and he later deleted at least one of them and apologized.
At the mention of Alpert’s name, Townsend said, “He is a nerd. I think that he’s developmentally retarded.” Then he continued to attack Alpert, nearly uninterrupted, including the quotes in the story. (UPDATE: That includes the comparison between Greater Greater Washington and the Ku Klux Klan.) He also called him “reptilian,” “pedantic,” and “childlike,” and suggested he had a “Napoleonic complex.”
That is the context for the contentious quotes in the story. If Townsend is in fact taking issue with the context of different quotes, I’d be happy to provide the context for those as well. I encourage Townsend and AAA Mid-Atlantic to reach out to me about the specific issues they have with the story.