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It was a Cinderella story for local politics. While the District’s other outlets were racing this afternoon to unveil more secrets of the Vince Gray shadow campaign, Russian website Capitol Correspondent landed the biggest scoop of all: Gray was resigning.
“Sources are saying that Vincent Gray is about to resign as mayor of Washington, DC,” wrote the site’s editor, Carmen Russell-Sluchansky. The article blew up on Twitter and Facebook, bringing 10,000 visitors to a site that normally just gets a few hundred a day and eventually crashing it. Former District Department of Transportation director Gabe Klein liked the story so much that he tweeted that Gray had already announced that he was going to resign.
It was a great story, but it wasn’t true. After it ran, a spokesperson for the mayor called Russell-Sluchansky’s office to deny it. In an email to City Desk, mayoral spokesperson Pedro Ribeiro wrote that Gray has no plans to resign. Even if Gray does eventually leave office early, that’s hardly the “about to resign” that Russell-Sluchansky promised. (Unless Gray resigns, say, tonight.)
Capitol Correspondent is a part of Voice of Russia, which is owned by the Russian government. Russell-Sluchansky, a Georgetown Law grad who’s worked at Voice of Russia for about a year, says his story was based on several sources, including one he had used before and considered especially reliable.
Russell-Sluchansky said that, if he could go back in time, he would run the story anyway, while perhaps adding “Source:” to the beginning of his headline.
“We still think it’s legitimate to report on this, whether it be a rumor—-actually we think it’s more than a rumor because we have a reliable source,” Russell-Sluchansky says.
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