Wandering Eye: Connor Meek is running for mayor, the saga of Ted Rall, and more

After helping to change police policy on when police stations are closed after writing an op-ed in The Sun, Connor Meek is running for mayor. Yes, really. Though it sounds like something out of a Frank Capra film, the 27-year-old filed the papers and everything. In a lengthy statement on his candidacy, Meek said he is running unaffiliated and will not be accepting donations. "How can a candidate claim to care about Baltimore's impoverished families, and at the same time spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on campaign advertisements that don't say much more than the candidates' names?" While he does not offer specific policy platforms, Meek lambasted the current government for its failings. (Brandon Weigel)

 

Ted Rall's cartoons have been a fixture in alt-weeklies for a couple of decades, and he has more recently blossomed as an incisive essayist and paid blogger, most notably for the Los Angeles Times. Then the Times fired him last month, saying his May 11 post did not meet the paper's standards of accuracy. Rall has fought back, and the story is worth unpacking for what it says about the value of facts versus narrative. Here's the Pasadena Weekly's take on the matter, which Rall tweeted out yesterday. To summarize: Rall wrote a blog post about his 2001 encounter with an L.A. cop named Willie Durr who stopped him for jaywalking and allegedly roughed him up, handcuffed him, and threw his wallet in the gutter. Then a police source emerged with Durr's comically unlistenable six-minute audiotape of the 14-year-old incident. Times editors reviewed the tape and concluded that Rall had not been handcuffed or roughed up. They said he could not write for the Times anymore. Since then, Rall has posted several "enhanced" versions of the tape, claiming they clearly depict a woman yelling at the cop to "take off his cuffs." I could not hear that on the tape, and neither could the Times experts. Rall now says the cuffs aren't the point. "This isn't about whether you like my comics or if you like my politics. That's irrelevant," he told the Pasadena Weekly. "This is about a police state; the nation as a police state. In a democracy, cops can't be allowed to hire and fire journalists." Rall's narrative has always been that cops are brutes. And there are plenty of brutal cops to write about and draw. But the cops did not fire him; editors did—because this particular "brutal cop" narrative did not hold water. On Aug. 19, the Times reaffirmed its decision to let Rall go, saying the cartoonist had written the same story in 2005, 2006, and 2009, each time with different details. The paper posts the audio as well, and says, "A conversation between Durr and Rall is audible, and it is civil. Durr is not heard being rude, 'belligerent,' 'hostile' or 'ill-tempered,' as Rall has asserted. The officer is heard calmly answering Rall's questions." Rall actually asked the guy to recommend a good restaurant. He now says he did that because he was traumatized and afraid the cop might kill or "disappear" him. Rall likened his behavior to "a rape victim calling their rapist back and—you know, like, days later—and wanting to get back together." (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

In case you haven't tuned into whichever MASN network the Orioles are not playing on to catch the Nationals, this will bring you up to speed: They are really bad. After being declared a favorite to win the NL East and possibly take the World Series, the Nationals are struggling to stay above .500, and it seems unlikely they'll even lock up a wild card spot for the postseason. Grantland's stat guru Jonah Keri breaks down their failings here. And you thought the Orioles season was rough! (Brandon Weigel)

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