Yesterday's driving rain did little to dissuade an enthusiastic group of Ward 7 supporters of D.C. Mayor Marion Barry who huddled beneath tents and umbrellas to call on the Washington media to stop attacking the Barry administration.

The mayor later called the rally "one of the most emotional moments in my 16 years of public service."

"Every time I turn around the news are printing something called leaks that are unsubstantiated and innuendo," said Willie J. Hardy, one of the organizers of the rally at the Randall Highlands Recreation Center near Pennsylvania Avenue in Southeast.

Hardy told the group of about 50 Barry loyalists in a muddy field that U.S. Attorney Joseph E. diGenova is remiss in his duties as prosecutor.

Instead of spearheading probes into city government departments, Hardy said, diGenova ought to be attacking the real problem: drugs. "If he would give as much time to the wholesale murder of our youth by drugs, this city would be better off," she said.

Barry showed up an hour into the rally, causing an uproar among the drenched crowd. Marching in to a chorus of "Hail to our mayor, hail to our chief," Barry thanked the audience for its support. "I'm convinced that God is on our side," he said.

In a brief speech filled mostly with thanks for the support, Barry challenged his critics: "If there's something there, bring it out and let's get it over with."

About a half-hour later, Effi Barry arrived. In a longer, more emotional speech, the mayor's wife vowed to fight back. "We know there's support in the community," she said. "And we have to be more vocal."

"We're all very tired of this three-ring circus," she said. She, too, challenged critics to "blank or get off the pot."

Effi Barry predicted that the "circus" will continue for the three years remaining in the mayor's current term of office "in an attempt to prove a preconceived notion that black folks don't know anything. Our heads may be bloody, but our backs are not broken."

She called her husband her "strength" and her "light," saying it was nobody's business "what my husband does" on his own time, an apparent reference to rumors of womanizing by the mayor.

Throughout the two-hour rally, organizers passed out preprinted letters to the editors of The Washington Post and The Washington Times denouncing the newspapers' "smear tactics."

"You may label that type of media hype as investigative reporting, but it represents to me a brand of sensationalism that reduces your publication to a level of no greater merit than that of a supermarket scandel sheet," the letter said.

Hardy said the diGenova investigations and the media's constant revelations of them are dangerous to the residents of Washington. "If we allow diGenova to set the agenda for this city for any kind of wrongdoing, he then becomes the {political} boss, and we don't need any bosses," she said.