As the incumbent mayor, Adrian M. Fenty (D) enjoys the advantage of getting plenty of face time on local television news to try to boost his image as he campaigns for a second-term against Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray.
But the Gray campaign is buzzing today about Fenty's appearance this morning on the Fox 5 morning show. It's looks like, the Gray campaign says, Fenty's weekly appearance on the show might not be the sort of face time candidates strive to obtain.
Appearing on set with the morning anchors, Fenty appeared ill-prepared to answer questions about the triple shooting last night near Howard University, the Washington Post story this morning about questionable DUI arrests in the city, or his views on the Office of Campaign Investigation into whether D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee improperly solicited private money to fund the teachers' contract.
When asked for an update on the shooting last night near Eighth and V streets NW, Fenty said he hadn't "gotten a full briefing."
"I'm sure you guys have reported how tragic it is," Fenty said. "It certainly could have been much worse cause it's a very crowded area. I just hope everyone pulls through."
The hosts then asked Fenty about D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles's contention that 400 people were recently convicted of driving while intoxicated based on faulty breath tests. Specifically, the anchors wanted to know whether the city was considering restitution for those who were wrongly convicted.
"I actually haven't been briefed on this for several months," Fenty said. "I don't know what the attorney general reissued this week, I will have to look at it."
Fenty, fumbling over his words, then tried to explain how the mistake was made. When asked if he expects lawsuits, Fenty replied, "Again, I have to get more fully briefed - I didn't realize you guys were going to ask me about this question."
The anchors then moved to civic activist Robert V. Brannum's complaint to the Office of Ethics that Rhee violated election law by soliciting private money to fund the teachers' contract.
"I just agree with the chancellor and the editorial board of The Washington Post," Fenty said. "I don't even understand the cause of action for what she seemed to do wrong. ... It seems frivolous in nature."
The anchors pressed ahead with a follow-up, but Fenty didn't seem willing to continue the discussion, saying the Washington Post editorial board "has put this claim in its place."
The anchors, appearing increasingly frustrated with Fenty's responses, then quickly ended the interview. This wasn't the only time Fenty has struggled through a television interview. During the February snowstorm, Fenty made national news on NBC4 when he sparred with the anchors over the city's response to the snowstorm.
-- Tim Craig