Two D.C. Democratic mayoral candidates, John L. Ray and Dorothy Maultsby, charged yesterday that Washington news media, and particularly The Washington Post, largely have ignored their campaigns.
Ray and Maultsby said that the city's newspapers and radio and television stations repeatedly have failed to report their views on a variety of issues and the response they receive from voters at candidate forums, while at the same time concentrating on the three front-running contenders for the mayoral nomination in the Sept. 12 party primary.
The pair of challengers accused The Post and other media of "unfair reporting" in soliciting the views of Mayor Walter E. Washington, City Council Chairman Sterling Tucker and Councilman Marion Barry, while failing to call Ray and Maultsby.
"In our view," Ray and Maultsby said at a District Building press conference, "the press has a responsibility to inform the public of all issues and the candidates' positions on those issues in this election. To do otherwise is to keep the voting public ignorant and to allow the election to be won on personalities."
Ray said The Washington Star "has done a very poor job in its coverage" by not writing many stories. But he said The Post, in his and Maultsby's view, has been worse because it has focused on Washington, Tucker and Barry.
"I'd rather see no article than an unfair article," Ray said.
He contended that The Post, because of a May 27 editorial calling for the defeat of Washington without endorsing any other candidate, showed that the newspaper "obviously has made a decision that they want Walter Washington out at all costs." He said that the newspaper had "frozen John Ray and Dorothy Maultsby out" of its coverage so no one else could "take any votes away from Sterling Tucker and Marion Barry."
Maultsby said the media had done "nothing (in its stories) to show my total concern for the community." She attacked The Post for not reporting that she had won sufficient support at a meeting of Ward 4 Democrats last month to block Tucker from receiving the group's endorsement.
Both Ray and Maultsby conceded they were not among the front-running candidates in various polls, but said they should be considered as two of the five major candidates. Ray said he has raised about $15,000 for his campaign and Maultsby said her total is $3,000. By contrast, Tucker has raised more than $200,000. Barry $170,000 and Washington $105.000.
A Washington Post poll of 1,020 registered Democrats in early June showed Maultsby with 1.4 percent of the vote and Ray with .3 percent. Tucker, Washington and Barry split more than 60 percent of the vote and the rest of those interviewed said they were undecided.
Leonard Downie Jr., The Post's metropolitan editor, said the newspaper has "not ignored these two candidates. We've written about each of their campaigns."
He said The Post's poll "just shows these candidates have the support of a small percentage" of the electorate. "Our coverage must naturally reflect that, although we will continue to cover Mr. Ray and Mrs. Maultsby to the end."
Downie said the newspaper's editorial pages are "entirely separate from the news operation" and do not influence news coverage.