If Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is looking to boost the Web traffic of his newest acquisition, he may want to rehire former ombudsman Patrick Pexton, whose contribution to our special issue on the sale of the Washington Post was aggregated by more than 100 news and opinion sites. Calling for the firing of conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin—whom Pexton accused of shilling for the Mitt Romney campaign, peddling crackpot right-wing theories, and generally falling short of the Post’s standards—will do that. A sampling of the reactions:
Politico media reporter Dylan Byers asked for a reaction from Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt, who wrote that Rubin “is an indefatigable reporter who is as hard on politicians on the right when she thinks they get things wrong as on the other side. Just to give one example: No one has done a better job chronicling the Republicans’ internal debates and anxieties regarding immigration.” Byers also got a response from Rubin herself: “‘hahahahahhahaha’—that’s a direct quote.”
At the Atlantic Wire, Elspeth Reeve asked Pexton why he was never so critical of Rubin when he was still Post ombudsman. His response: “I had intended to write a full column on her, but wanted to do more reporting and I just didn’t get around to it before I left. I had drafted a couple versions, but didn’t like what I had written. So I held off.”
In his earlier tolerance of Rubin, Pexton was no different than, well, the rest of the Washington Post, Gawker’s J.K Trotter argued: “To be fair: everyone at the Post accommodates Rubin’s near-daily lies, even as they demolish them. WonkBlog editor Ezra Klein will link to ‘my colleague Jennifer Rubin’ before lightly questioning her grip on reality. Greg Sargent, Rubin’s liberal counterpart, vacillates between retweeting her columns and declaring her a Republican stooge…Rubin ultimately survives because, despite Pexton’s invocation of ‘Post standards,’ she fits right in. The paper’s opinion section is the most cynical and conflicted such department in America…”
The Soul Searchers
Someone’s to blame for the killing of a planned music venue in Chuck Brown Park, but is it the city or the neighbors? Readers of Rebecca Mills’ feature on the imbroglio were split. Huffington Post reporter (and former City Paper staffer) Jason Cherkis wrote that “The neighborhood should have been consulted first. That was a mistake but it shouldn’t have become the deal-breaker. Residents should have gotten past that—after all, this is a music venue, not a trash dump…Residents didn’t want this park out of fear.”
Others argued the city’s failure to consult residents in the vicinity of the park was an insult to frequently neglected Ward 5. “There is a sense in our ward that with the exception of areas like Bloomingdale (where our Council Member lives) and Eckington, the city administration could care less about the residents and sees it as a convenient dumping ground (thanks, in part, to zoning issues),” wrote Clara. “As for Mayor Gray’s thought process, he did not first come to the neighborhood to discuss the possibility of creating a concert venue; he presented it as a fait accompli. This was poorly handed from the start.”
Tax to Grind
In last week’s Housing Complex column, Aaron Wiener reported that D.C.’s underassessment of property values is costing the city hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue, and made the case that local agencies ought to do better assessing land near market value. To which local attorney Paul Zukerberg says: nuh-huh. In a letter, the 2013 at-large D.C. Council candidate writes, “Homeowners have their property assessed every year by the tax office, and then have to pay higher taxes based on the theoretical value of their property, if it was sold. Trouble is, many homeowners don’t want to sell. And unless they do sell, there is no new cash to pay their bigger tax bill. True, property tax increases in the District are capped by law at no more than 10 percent per year. But how many middle class and working people get a 10 percent raise every year?
“The District already has a $400 million dollar budget surplus, earned on the backs of homeowners and working families. Let’s cap further property tax increases, and give some breathing room to middle income families, seniors, and those on fixed incomes.”
Department of Corrections
Due to an editing error, a City Lights pick for a discussion with author Michael Streissguth gave an incorrect address for Joe’s Record Paradise; it is on Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring, not Georgia Avenue NW. And due to a reporting error, a separate City Lights pick misspelled the name of choreographer Nejla Yatkin.
Due to a reporting error, this post originally misspelled the name of Fred Hiatt, the Washington Post‘s editorial page editor.