As reported today for DCist:
Channel 9 reporter Bruce Johnson has broken the story on the dust-up at the Post this past week. Classical music critic Tim Page, winner of a Pulitzer prize, has long been one of the best writers in the Style section, making the paper's shrinking coverage of classical music all the more shameful. In response to a mass e-mail from the staff of D.C. Ward 8 Council member Marion Barry, which was sent to Page apparently by mistake, the irritated classical critic fired back an off-the-cuff e-mail response. Danger! Danger! As everyone should know by now, when you send an e-mail you should just assume that everyone in the world is going to read it. Johnson quotes the copy of the e-mail he obtained thus:
Must we hear about it every time this Crack Addict attempts to rehabilitate himself with some new — and typically half-witted — political grandstanding? I'd be grateful if you would take me off your mailing list. I cannot think of anything the useless Marion Barry could do that would interest me in the slightest, up to and including overdose. Sincerely, Tim Page.Should Page be allowed to besmirch the good name of the former mayor? True, Barry's checkered past has recently included some shady goings-on reported in the news, like telling police not to investigate a burglary of his house, not paying his taxes, violating the terms of his probation, being a "friend" to underworld hustlers, and being pulled over for erratic driving. Still, it's not like he has tested positive for cocaine use in the last two years. Oh, wait, yes, actually he has. In fact, DCist's Martin Austermuhle called Marion Barry the District's "most famous crack addict" in 2006. Given Barry's continued struggle with illegal drugs, it is hard to see how the epithet is undeserved. "Half-witted" and "useless" and "overdose" could conceivably cross the line, though.
Barry and his staff are demanding that the Post fire Page, and the paper has actually placed him on leave. It looks like an early vacation for the distinguished classical critic (and sufferer of a form of Asperger's Syndrome, as revealed in a powerful personal profile in The New Yorker this summer), who had already planned to take a sabbatical later this year (not yet announced by the Post). According to Musical America, Page will begin a teaching appointment at the University of Southern California next semester.
Anne Midgette, a junior critic at the New York Times, will become Interim Classical Music Critic on January 1. At the top of her Washington Post orientation packet should be instructions about not responding to any emails with Marion Barry in the subject line.
Bruce Johnson, Post Reporter Apologizes For Calling Barry A 'Crack Addict' (WUSA, November 13):
It's the talk on the web Monday with bloggers coming down on both sides, but Barry bashers appear to have the bigger numbers and support Tim Pages [sic] right to say whatever he wants, even in his company email. By email Monday, Tim Page says he is shocked and embarrassed to see how many viewers think his remarks are okay, they're nothing of the sort writes Page.Howard Kurtz, Post Critic Page Apologizes for E-Mail Remarks To Barry Aide (Washington Post, November 13)
As reported today for DCist: