October 30, 2021.
I am running for Arlington County Board on November 2, and I have serious issues with Washington Post’s editorial policy regarding political candidates.
On Monday, October 25, following publication of the Post’s local candidate questionnaires, I received a phone call from Teo Armus, the reporter who authored the questionnaire and Arlington’s new beat reporter. Armus advised that a reader—who I subsequently learned was my opponent Mike Cantwell—had reported to him that I had lied about my age on the candidate questionnaire.
Armus demanded that I acknowledge for the record that I am a liar. This I refused to do, maintaining that the Post has no right to compel candidates to report their age, because age is a protected category under federal law just like race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religious belief.
I maintained that protected information cannot be compelled except when the government itself claims an overriding interest. Yet the Washington Post candidate form rejected any entry but a positive number, and it would not submit when I left the field blank. In this way the Post compelled me to report protected information about myself or forfeit the opportunity to extend my candidate outreach effort to a wider audience.
Armus scoffed at my defense, claiming that readers have a right to know a candidate’s age and that the practice of compelling it is widespread in the newspaper industry. Furthermore anti-discrimination laws apply only to employers, not newspapers.
Armus actually called me back later demanding that I confess to being a liar. Once more I refused, insisting that while the Post can ask for protected information, it cannot compel it.
Others have argued that I could have avoided the hatchet job that the Post subsequently published about me by declining to submit the questionnaire.
True, but that’s like telling Rosa Parks that she could have avoided arrest by going to the back of the bus.
This is not said in jest. I am acutely aware of the fact that the Washington Post newspaper monopoly, owned by the richest man on earth, is a formidable foe and that the prerogatives of its staff are rarely challenged.
However, I’m concerned that compelling candidates to report protected information discourages thousands of otherwise qualified older people from running for political office later in life, because it prejudices their chances of getting elected.
This will further erode good government, as the cadre of people who arguably enjoy the most wisdom and relevant experience for elective office refuse to subject themselves to the dictates of the press.
I hope you agree with me on this important issue and will consider it when you go to the polls on Election Day, Tuesday, November 2.
But if you don’t, just remember that ageism is everywhere, and its effects are as pervasive as racism and sexism. Those who bow to it, do so at their own peril.
If elected I am going to distance myself from Arlington headquartered Amazon Corporation, which is controlled by Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post. I will also:
- Seek immediate tax relief for residents and businesses.
- Say YES to affordable housing and NO to “Missing Middle” up-zoning.
- Save our parks, streams and tree canopy and stop clear-cutting wooded areas on public property.
- Say YES to real social justice reforms and NO to symbolic gestures.
As a 17-year Westover resident, long-time civic activist and former member of the Transportation Commission, I have both the experience and independence to promote these reforms.
If you share my agenda, then:
- Spread the word about my candidacy.
- Donate to my campaign.
- Help make the “Arlington Way” more than an empty phrase.