The Mirror

Chuck Lane To Star in WaPo’s ‘Of Mice And Men’ Remake

Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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What is Chuck Lane‘s problem?

According to our spies over at the Washington Post, this is the sentiment colleagues are expressing ever since Lane, an editorial writer, went all preachy on their asses when the news broke Tuesday that the paper’s cafeteria was being shuttered by the D.C. Health Department because of – you might’ve guessed it – mice.

Someone leaked a memo from Jeff Cox, director of WaPo operations, to Jim Romenesko, which was, in turn, published by Washington City Paper. Lane was incensed. So he sent out his own memo (which was soon released to the WCP) that the head of cafeteria operations could be hurt by the news getting out — news, mind you, that is public record. Lane’s dramatic prose seems more suitable for a play at the Warner Theatre:

Alas, someone who received Jeff Cox’s email thought it would be cute to spread this bit of internal trivia to the City Paper and others, and couldn’t resist the impulse. If I were the cafeteria operator, I might be exploring my legal options (defamation, breach of privacy, etc.) right now. I suppose that’s just one of the unfortunate possible side effects that the leaker didn’t consider.”

What? It’s defamatory to share documents that are public record? What the f–k is Lane talking about? More importantly, it is astonishing that a journalist would encourage someone to file a defamation lawsuit against someone in his own newsroom for distributing factually correct information.

So let’s this straight: Lane is all for the paper revealing classified NSA info, but he bitches when someone at his own paper leaks a mouse problem? So Edward Snowden is a hero for stealing classified information, but the mice blabber is a turncoat because he forwarded an internal Post email?

A summary of the newsroom discussions on the matter: “Who eats in that place?” And this: “What the hell is Chuck Lane’s problem?”

The weirdest part of this whole debacle is that Washington City Paper‘s Perry Stein, who wrote their stories on the matter, then redacted portions of the public record to appease Lane because apparently Lane is what, some sort of monarch? Is he King of the Washington Post Cafeteria? And why is Stein doing her best to keep publicly available information from readers? Nah. Lane (awfully close to the word “lame”) is just king of something in his own mind and Washington City Paper appeased him so he’d stop whimpering.

From Stein’s story: “Should Lane send another email out about this post, be sure to look for it here. In the meantime, you can read the report from the D.C. Department of Health’s inspection of the Post‘s cafeteria below. We’ve redacted information about the cafeteria operator, though it’s now a matter of public record, out of deference to Lane.”

Phone enthusiast and freelancer Evan Gahr called Lane on Tuesday.

Subject line: Chuck Lane hangs up quicker than Marty Baron [Executive Editor, WaPo]

Body of the email:

Chuck Lane: Chuck Lane

Evan Gahr: Chuck, this is Evan Gahr. I read about your mice memo. I just want to make sure I understand this. You think it’s OK for Edward Snowden to reveal NSA secrets but it’s wrong for someone at the Post to reveal a mice memo.

He hung up without saying a word.

Lest you think the vermin problem is limited to the WaPo cafeteria, think again. It’s also in the newsroom. In early January, WaPo‘s Karen Tumulty tweeted, “Washington Post newsroom mouse just made his/her first appearance of the New Year.”

The only thing Lane hasn’t stuck up for here is the mice. But it’s coming. Animal rights and all.

“Have never been in the cafeteria. And won’t be changing that record any time soon!” one of our WaPo spies assured.

But who is the bigger p–y here? It’s Washington City Paper for not fully running what are public records and for appeasing a blowhard editorial writer and letting him determine their editorial policy.

The Mirror requested comment from WCP Editor-in-Chief Mike Madden, who wrote by email that he didn’t think readers would miss the redacted information.

“The idea there was to poke a little fun at Lane’s outrage that the cafeteria operator’s name had been released earlier, in the memo from Post administration that we obtained,” he wrote. “Since it’s a matter of public record, that seemed like an odd thing for a journalist to object to. Obviously, anyone who wants to find out the operator’s name (and email address and phone number, which the health inspection includes) can go track it down. In this particular case, the site of the closed cafeteria, i.e., the Post, was more newsworthy than who operates it, so we didn’t think anyone would miss the redacted information.”

The Post is planning to move its HQ eventually, as reports of a $159 million sale to Carr Properties was reported back in November. The cafeteria has been closed until further notice. For now, there’s mice and also construction taking place on the L Street side of the building. “You can hear it in parts of the newsroom,” said a source.

We’ll stay on Lane suck-up watch until the ordeal is over. Let’s hope the employees of WaPo, including the cafeteria workers, get a better, more sanitary place to work.