Mayor Marion Barry, who campaigned on the promise of an open administration, moved yesterday to oversee reporters' contact with 82 of his top assistants and their aides following the publication of three stories in The Washington Post that aides said angered the mayor.
In a terse, one-sentence memorandum issued yesterday, press secretary Florence Tate said that her office should be informed in advance of all "on the record and off the record" interviews with top Barry aides.
"The mayor feels that there's been some abuse of the previous policy of open-door relationships with the press," she said. Tate said Barry felt one reporter, who she declined to name, had "abused" the privileges. She would not specify the abuses.
According to Barry aides, the three offending Post articles were a column in the Weekly section on the problems of poor families displaced by urban renovation, an article on the opposite editorial page suggesting that Barry is preoccupied with the concerns of middle-class blacks, and a front page interview with D.C. housing director Robert L. Moore, in which he said he found his department in chaos after taking over from the previous administration.
The new policy was issued shortly after Barry saw a Post reporter about to enter the office of one of his aides yesterday. Throughout the first nine months of the Barry administration -- and most of the last two years of Walter Washington's administration -- such access routinely has been allowed.
Tate said that Barry feels the new guideline is "not out of line with open administration. He is not saying that reporters cannot have access to people on his staff or to him. He just wants the press secretary's office always aware."