A months-long grand jury investigation in which Mayor Barry had testified ended officially yesterday without any findings to report -- about anybody, including the mayor. So much for the cloud of suspicion that had been hanging over the administration and the shadow it cast on the city. Because of the appearance of Mayor Barry before the grand jury and because the mayor acknowledged a personal acquaintanceship with a D.C. government employee subpoenaed to testify about cocaine trafficking, the investigation had generated unusual public interest. Now there should be public relief that this case has been wrapped up.
Mr. Barry was understandably eager yesterday to reassert his innocence. He seized the occasion 1) to blame "the press" for everything wrong about his ordeal and 2) to sing his own praises as a beloved and strong public servant, as a champion of 40,000 city government employees who had been "libeled unfairly" and as one who knew all along that "truth, crushed to the ground, would rise again." The mayor repeatedly criticized what he termed a "trial by press," with its "zeal and zest for sensational headlines" and its use of "rumor and innuendo" and recurrent leaks.
We cannot accept the mayor's attempt to lay off his difficulties on the press. Certainly the story of a grand jury drug investigation touching City Hall is legitimate news. Any leaks in this case, moreover, originated not with the press, but with those somehow involved in the grand jury proceedings. On four occasions we urged that the U.S. attorney's office speed its investigation, noting that Mr. Barry was at no time charged with anything, that the prosecutors had a duty to prevent leaks and clear the air and that until all the facts were known, people should refrain from drwing unfair and unfounded conclusions.
The investigation is now over. Mayor Barry's reputation, far from being destroyed, is intact. This should be a matter of deep satisfaction for the people of the city as well as the mayor.