U-T columnist Gerry Braun, probably one of the best writers in the city, gave little old me some grief in his Sunday column.

He probably could have done a quick search first.

Braun, writing about the ironies of the ongoing questions about what exactly City Council candidate John Hartley was doing in his truck in a Kensington neighborhood, wrote this:

The other irony of this episode is that the media are suddenly eager to hear from Hartley — a fellow who two weeks ago couldn’t buy his way into a newsroom. One blogger all but demanded that Hartley speak now or drop out of the District 3 council race.

I hereby take the title “One Blogger.” Time for new business cards. I am, of course, assuming he was talking about my post here in which I described the only imaginable scenario in which Hartley’s campaign could survive his arrest.

But Braun had this to say about my post:

That’s typical. The media often ignore candidates when they need coverage. But when we need them, we’re indignant if they won’t take our calls.

Ignore? Perhaps Braun thinks he and his newsroom were ignoring Hartley and the District 3 race before the arrest, but it’s a stretch to say other media, and me, were. We can always do better, no doubt, but I wrote a column, here, about the race a few weeks ago, including several grafs about Hartley, his ideas and his history.

Then, of course, there was this: I actually interviewed Hartley again, and published our conversation, only hours before his arrest.

I had lingering questions from when I wrote the column about why Hartley had decided not to run for reelection after his first term as a city councilman ended in 1993. Hartley and I spoke for some time and I posted this around noon that day. It was, I thought, a very interesting discussion. A couple of hours later, Kelly Davis, the associate editor of the weekly newspaper CityBeat, reacted to that post with an insight about Hartley’s use of the male pronoun when talking with me about the eventual “strong manager” he would hire to run his staff and manage his office better than Hartley had in the early 90s.

CityBeat, you see, has also talked to Hartley and discussed the District 3 race quite a lot.

After Davis and I heard of the arrest later that night, we both updated our posts with links to the U-T‘s short brief about the incident.

Again, Braun may feel guilty that he didn’t write about Hartley’s campaign until after the arrest but there’s no reason to drag me and “we, the media” into it.

And one last point. Braun expertly lays out the very good reasons why Hartley should not speak about his arrest right now. The seriousness of the consequences should, and do, outweigh our angst to know what his side of the story is.

Point taken. But in my post, I was merely answering the question of how his campaign could survive the incident. I still believe that three things would need to happen: 1) He’d have to explain what happened. There are very good possible explanations for what the “misunderstanding” between he and the witnesses was — but it’s important to note that Hartley hasn’t offered them. 2) His rivals to the seat would have to agree to implore their supporters to leave it alone and campaign only on the issues — they could easily exploit just the fact that there was the arrest and they would need to resist that urge. And 3) Hartley would have to be able to get back to campaigning at full speed — his chances always were dependent on his indefatigable energy for walking the district. Every day that goes by in this cloud will hurt.

These are not points that Braun disputes.

Hartley may have the best reasons in the world to stay quiet right now. I didn’t demand he speak up. I said that if he doesn’t, his campaign for City Council will suffer and so will the very healthy debate that was occurring before Braun and others in the media were attracted to these lurid accusations.


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