Oh, my: Mayor Adrian M. Fenty muzzled one of his employees against her own advice.
Check Bill Turque‘s D.C. Wire account for the full back story, but the short version is that Turque was working on a story about Michelle Rhee‘s “Plan B” on how to get rid of bad teachers in the event that contract negotiations didn’t work out. Part of that, Turque reported at the time, involved tying teacher licensing to classroom performance—-which falls under the bailiwick of State Superintendent of Education Deborah Gist.
Before commenting, Gist told Turque she’d have to check with Fenty chief of staff Carrie Brooks. No response ever came from Gist, though Brooks later denied putting the kibosh on any comment.
Rather, the kibosh came from Fenty himself, after Rhee weighed in by saying that any comment could be “very messy”: “Yes. Don’t speak with him (and please don’t tell him something like. ‘the mayor has told me not to speak with you’),” Hizzoner wrote. “Just don’t pick up the phone.”
Oof. This would be the best insight into mayoral communications strategy since LL laid bare the WaPo’s inside track on announcing Rhee’s appointment in June 2007.
Since then, the Post‘s honeymoon has ended, at least on the news-reporting side. (The editorial board is still perfectly smitten.) Since Rhee’s appointment, the D.C. education beat has been fraught for Metro reporters. V. Dion Haynes and Theola Labbé-DeBose held the beat for the first portion of Rhee’s tenure, but Labbé-DeBose was taken off the beat in late March, then Haynes departed for a biz-desk job. Turque, a veteran former Newsweek reporter who had been covering the Virginia suburbs for the Post, was brought in amid rumors that Rhee was at odds with Turque’s predecessors.
Now today’s revelation, plus the string of Rhee no-comments in recent Turque stories, can only be taken as a sign that the Chancellor isn’t a whole lot happier with Turque’s reporting.