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Tone-deaf PI column treats Ed Murray as sage hero

A recent column from the Seattle PI was so tone-deaf, it had to be pulled, with a promotional tweet highlighting the story deleted. In the since-deleted column, Joel Connelly seems to treat former Mayor Ed Murray as a sage hero who can help Seattle solve homelessness.

Originally published on May 10, Connelly presents a lengthy response to the head tax controversy by the former Mayor booted from office after allegations of child molestation. Only once does Connelly address the controversy, by granting Murray’s request to not discuss the issue. According to a WayBack Machine archive of the story, Connelly writes:

In an interview he asked be limited to homelessness and drug abuse, not the decades-old molestation allegations that drove him from office, Murray critiqued the $500-per-employee head tax being pushed by City Council members.

Wow. Connelly offers deference to Murray so that he may laud the mayor’s views on home homeless “can be solved?”

The tone of the piece gets weird. Connelly waxes poetic about the “thoughts and warnings from a veteran legislative deal-maker, and the Mayor who brought all sides together in hammering out the city’s phased-in $15-an-hour minimum wage.” And he ends the column treating Murray as a wise elder (despite homelessness getting worse under his watch):

Ed Murray is not a man to muse. But, looking at the climate in Seattle and beyond, he observed: “From Brexit to Trump, we are living in The Age of Rage.”

Apparently we’re in the Age of Respecting Alleged Child Molesters, too. In the column’s place is a notice the story has been pulled, maintaining the story doesn’t meet their editorial standards. Fair enough, but how’d it get posted – and promoted – on Twitter? This isn’t to say the piece has no place; it’s the tone of the piece that is so problematic.

Perhaps Connelly doesn’t believe the allegations. Fair enough. But the pain Murray caused is still rather fresh and his alleged actions are still being litigated. Perhaps we should wait before we turn to the guy for answers to Seattle’s problems?

Connelly responded via Twitter:

Connelly also posted the following statement to his Facebook page:

I read myself to sleep last night with Eli Sanders’ Stranger piece on final days of Ed Murray as mayor.
But I couldn’t sleep, given questions that came into my mind.
This a.m., find myself accused of being “used” for interviewing former mayor on employee head tax — and running his critique of same — and not on accusations that drove him from office.
Ed Murray reached out a couple days back, wanting to opine on head tax but not mix that with circumstances of his departure from 7th floor.
He was, however, offering to discuss the second subject separately. He has discussed it with no one.
The proposed sequence worked for me, perhaps mistakenly. Why? Any interview on Topic 2 would require extensive schooling of myself on last year’s City Hall drama. I was sidelined at Queen Anne Care Center, recovering from injury, at the time of multiple mayors.
I am put off by Congress hearings at which members are totally unprepared to question witnesses. (Exceptions, Sens. Maria Cantwell and Kamala Harris.)
We also have a kind of Kabuki Dance journalism, where a loud insulting question substitutes of knowing subject.
During scandal over Sen. Brock Adams allegedly drugging young women, Brock’s pillow talk included saying he had had a vasectomy.
Entering Senate policy lunch in D.C., KIRO-TV’s guy bellowed in deep Ted Baxter voice: “Senator, have you ever had a vasectomy?”
With the Murray story pulled, I now wonder whether Ed will agree to second interview.
Nobody should get a free ride, but in this case I opted to be fair & prepared, and to deal with the deep past of someone who has been an architect of constructive public policy ($15 minimum wage, marriage equality, civil rights, 2005 transportation package)..
I recall another morning, when Neil Modie and I wrote a piece on Brock Adams’ death, that discussed at length scandal that brought him down.
‘Fielded a call from retired PI political columnist berating us for “bringing that stuff up” and not letting Adams slip away quietly. (I had interviewed Adams when he was slowly dying of Parkinson’s Disease.)
Can’t win, I guess, but will never knowingly offer free ride even to the departed. I will be prepared for sensitive interviews with the living.

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