Baltimore was rioting over the weekend in protest of the recent death of Freddie Gray and where was Washington Post’s premiere race reporter Wesley Lowery?
He was on the red carpet of the Hinckley Hilton, of course. Yukking it up with D-List stars and big, important, powerful Washingtonians in ball gowns and dancing around in a tux with his Ferguson BFF Ryan J. Reilly of HuffPost. The Post had tasked Lowery with covering the red carpet with a live streaming Periscope app and even put out a press release stating as much.
Come on, WaPo. Optics, anyone? Why put your race reporter on the red carpet in the first place? Why put him in that awful position? Would Dan Balz cover gossip? Would Robin Givhan cover a Senate leadership budget fight?
Lowery and Reilly made a special attempt to remember their time at Ferguson sleep away camp together. While Baltimore was arresting rioters, Wesley and Ryan remembered that time they were once detained after refusing to leave a McDonald’s as riots raged outside. At the time, Wesley was shoved up against a soda machine. There were no known lasting injuries.
Still, it was a time of bonding they’ll never forget.
Lowery went on Instagram on Saturday night and wrote, “So @ryanjreilly and I are going to take a Ferguson reunion photo everytime we see each other for the rest of our lives #whcd.”
Reilly lamented that Periscope wasn’t around during their Ferguson days. “Periscope would have had such a huge impact on Ferguson coverage if it was available in August,” he gushed on Twitter.
Gee, that’s really touching.
In Baltimore, Gray recently died of inexplicable spinal injuries after police arrested him and dragged him away to his eventual death. His funeral is Monday.
To be sure, WaPo covered the riots in Baltimore.
They just didn’t have their newest race reporter on the beat.
Nor did Wesley opt to leave the red carpet for a 45-minute ride to Baltimore. In fact, he said he felt privileged to be covering the WHCD.
“Happy and privileged to be in this room at WHCD – unquestionably valuable for sourcing,” he wrote on Twitter. “But can’t lie, I’m glued to updates from Baltimore.”
A follower asked him about it on Twitter: “Remember when you used to cover civil unrest? Now you can tweet pics of posh galas while they erupt 40 miles away!”
Wesley grew mildly defensive: “I can’t cover every story. And I still cover civil unrest.”
He did, however, seem to be aware of how odd it was that he was at the Hilton while violence was breaking out a hop, skip and a cab ride away.
“As no shortage of people have pointed out, DC’s most powerful sipping wine as people take the streets an hour away in Baltimore,” he wrote on Twitter during the WHCD.
HuffPost‘s Jason Cherkis also went after Wesley that night for not being in Baltimore — specifically attacking him for the aforementioned tweet Wesley wrote about how privileged he felt to be covering the dinner. A fun dick swinging contest ensued.
CHERKIS: “@WesleyLowery sorry I called you out for this dumb shit.”
LOWERY: “Sorry that I can’t personally cover every story and that you felt the need to be a dick about it.”
CHERKIS: “Go back to your source gathering. Newt looks bored.”
LOWERY: “I’ll stack my coverage of black lives matter protests next to your any day.”
CHERKIS: “@WesleyLowery Plenty of Baltimore journalists doing a fine job of covering #FreddieGray”
LOWERY: “Agree wholeheartedly. So don’t know why you’re attacking me personally for not being there.”
CHERKIS: “Not criticizing your coverage, just your lack of self-awareness.”
LOWERY: “Was being transparent. I should lie about where I am? I was being honest that I honestly feel conflicted about not being there.”
LOWERY: “That’s how I operate. I’m self aware enough to tell the truth.”
Let’s not be too hard on WaPo‘s race reporter covering WHCD’s pointless red carpet in place of covering race riots.
I mean, he did cheer his colleagues on. “Great WaPo reporting on the current situation in Baltimore,” he wrote.
Piorities, WaPo. Priorities.