The Mirror

WaPo’s Chuck Lane Thinks The Mice Mess Is ‘BS’

Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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Washington Post editorial writer Chuck Lane has his proverbial panties in a twist. A day after lecturing his colleagues over the D.C. Department of Health shutting down the publication’s cafeteria and the importance of not leaking internal memos to Jim Romenesko and Washington City Paper, Lane is still in a wad about it.

“Shoot me a call when you have a chance,” he said in an email to The Mirror Wednesday.

First of all, shoot me a call? Secondly, can we please discuss the phraseology here? Here’s the thing, Chuck. You can talk any way you like. But in typical Washington lingo, you shoot someone an email or give the person a call. How about pick one?

Lane is all knotted because I wrote this post about his memo which was then leaked to Washington City Paper. In it, he suggested that The Washington Post cafeteria operator had a potential defamation lawsuit against whatever mole in his newsroom shot a copy of the memo to Washington City Paper. All this, despite the fact that the Health Department reports about mice in WaPo‘s cafeteria are a matter of public record.

On Tuesday, Lane had a conversation on Twitter with David Heyman, a D.C.-based marketer and blogger, who then ran the brief shitstorm through Storify. Heyman explained, “I had a nice exchange with @ChuckLane1 yesterday as he tried to educate me why cover ups are good.” Heyman’s headline: “What Charles Lane thinks of health department inspections being public.”

And let’s face it. Lane doesn’t think much of inspections being made public, certainly not ones at his own newspaper. Those are “internal” matters best kept private.

Heyman: “Um, @ChuckLane1, for a newspaperperson to think the answer to health violations is to hush them up, no words.”

This obviously set Lane off.

Lane: “No public health threat from cafeteria openly only to Post employees and guests. Posties fully aware of issues internally. What I oppose is broadcasting story at expense of hapless, hard-working entrepreneur who’s named but not really to blame.” 

Heyman: “@ChuckLane1 Ever had food poisoning? If the “entrepreneur” isn’t screaming about mouse droppings on the panini press, good to make public.”

Heyman: So potential food poisoning of hundreds of employees is an “internal matter”?

Lane: “You have no idea what u r talking about. ‘Hundreds of employees’ were immediately notified of the problem, and were never at risk. … Ukraine is burning. OK botching executions. MD electing a new governor. And we’re talking about this BS. Goodbye.”

At the conclusion of the exchange, Lane blocked Heyman on Twitter. “And of course, the pièce de résistance, @ChuckLane1 blocked me after this exchange,” Heyman told The Mirror.

Knowing Lane would try to go off the record with me and then ream me out for God knows what, I decided to not go off the record with him at all. Why should I let Chuck Lane waste my valuable time when Ukraine is burning, executions are being botched and Maryland is electing a new governor?

The phone call was brief.

Chuck Lane: “I just want to be sure we’re off the record.”

Me: “I’m not doing off the record.”

Chuck Lane: “Ahh okay, then I’m not going to be able to do this.”

Chuck Lane: “I do think you could’ve called me before writing what you wrote.”

Me: “I had everything I needed. It was all out there.”

Chuck Lane: “Okay then.”

Me: Click.

Since Lane apparently has so much he wants to say on the matter, I shot him an email asking him three questions:  1. Why is the whole thing “BS” as you said in your exchange with David Heyman on Twitter? 2. Why should the whole matter be private? 3. Do you really believe that a matter of public record is actionable in a court of law? 

The Mirror gave him 53 minutes to respond, unless he wanted more time. Otherwise, as I told him, I would publish at 5 p.m.