Dear Mayor Ed Murray,
We are living in the world of “alternative facts.” Our president gets away with attacking journalists. His press secretary lies to reporters on a daily basis. In your open letter on The Stranger’s blog Friday morning, you wrote that you have “a deep respect for the press.” Then you followed that statement with a “but.” We hear this a lot.
If you have respect for the press, show it. Be angry about an op-ed asking for you to step down, sure. And respond to it. But the minute you start attacking the free press and blaming The Seattle Times for your problems—simply because, yes, reporters have done their jobs—you’re sinking to the levels of the very administration you say you’re fighting so hard against.
You may think attacking the press is an easy win. Some, in fact, may have read your words and thought, “Yes, Mayor Murray, stick it to the press. We all hate them too.” Trust in the media has never been lower. But that’s exactly why your rhetoric is so harmful and dangerous to the principles this country was founded on.
So yes, I expect you to defend yourself. You’re running for reelection, I get it. But nothing gets me more fired up than an elected official blaming the press for reporting on a lawsuit—yes, a sexual assault lawsuit—filed against him. This new accusation of yours is the cherry on top of a mounting list of problematic statements you’ve made, including impugning an accuser's criminal history (irrelevant; criminals can be molested too).
Picture, for a second, Seattle Times reporters being tipped off to the suit and choosing not to report on it. I personally don’t want to see us turn into a country where it’s a common practice for journalists to not question those in power. Journalists who do end up persecuted in far too many nations, and reporters often risk their lives to tell the public this kind of news. A lawsuit like this is legitimate news, period.
So let me make this clear—there should be no double standard when it comes to sexual assault cases. Regardless of the outcome, I will go to bat for any journalist for reporting on these kinds of allegations against public figures. I hope that in the future, you can lay this kind of rhetoric to rest for good and I won’t be hearing any more of it at press conferences. You can expect us not to back down on any story that the public has a right to know.