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Marion Barry Says Media Doesn’t Give Him Fair Shake

D.C. Councilman Marion Barry joined a skim 24 people at the Georgetown Ritz this afternoon for a lunch featuring Washingtonian‘s Carol Joynt in her televised Q & A Cafe. Looking dapper in a gray suit, red and pink striped tie and shiny shoes, Barry’s smoothness oozed in his cool demeanor as he answered all of Joynt’s pointed questions and shied away from nothing.

In case you’re wondering, yes, she asked about the drugs, not crack specifically, but his addiction and his infamous line: “the bitch set me up.”  She brought up his marriage and his reported slur against Asian shopkeepers. She also inquired about a possible memoir that the 76-year-old pol may have in the works.

“It’s one chapter,” he said about the drug portion of his life. When she pushed him on it, he added, “Maybe two.”

While Barry and Joynt treated each other in what can be described as a polite, detached manner throughout the interview, things often grew heated.

The Drugs

Joynt really pressed him hard on whether anger is at the root of his addiction issues. “Addiction doesn’t have anything to do with anger, not for me,” Barry said, growing annoyed with her presumption. “It has to do with, we all want to feel good.” And with that he let out a big laugh.

Marriage

Asked if he’s married, Barry replied, “Technically, yes. Cora [Masters] and I are separated and anything else about that is personal.” He lives in a duplex. No pets.

The Media

Barry took more than a few jabs at the media. “Newspapers are supposed to report the news, not make the news,” Barry said. “Too many reporters are trying to make the front page.” Asked if Washington media gives him a fair shake, Barry replied, “No, and that’s wrong.” Joynt asked why. “That’s their nature,” he replied. After the interview, we pressed him further on his feelings about the media. He said emphatically, “I’m not down on anybody. The media is down on me.”

Asian Store Owner Slur

In April of this year, Barry apologized on Twitter for calling Asian businesses “dirty.” Asked about the alleged slur, he said, “I was quoted out of context.” Asked to explain himself, he reasoned, “I mixed up two ideas.” She asked if he had any Asians on his staff. No. Latinos? No. He said 90 percent of his staff is African American.

Barry’s thoughts on the election and which reporters showed up for lunch…

The Election

Joynt wondered what Barry would think about a Mitt Romney win. “I can’t even think about it,” he said. “It’s unspeakable. Barack Obama is going to win.”

Four of the lunch guests in the Ritz’s regal dining room eating baked chicken, mashed potatoes and cupcakes were reporters. They included WTOP’s Bob Madigan, Washingtonian‘s Harry Jaffe (who avoided directly speaking to Barry like the plague) and WaPo‘s Tim Craig. During Joynt’s interview, Barry grumbled about Craig writing stories on him that he didn’t care for. But Craig says he has a pretty good relationship with Barry and was spotted warmly chatting with him post interview.

Joynt is Editor-at-Large for Washingtonian magazine. Q & A Cafe is a separate affair. The show airs every Friday at 8 p.m. on the District Cable Network (channel 16).

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