A Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic for The Washington Post,Tim Page, sent an angry e-mail in which he called the former mayor of the U.S. capital, Marion Barry, a "crack addict." Later he apologized for the e-mail.
Tim Page wrote to Marion Barry's aide last week after receiving a press release about the views of the council member and former mayor on a financially troubled local hospital.
"Must we hear about it every time this crack addict attempts to rehabilitate himself with some new - and typically half-witted - political grandstanding?," the e-mail said. "I'd be grateful if you would take me off your mailing list. I cannot think of anything the useless Marion Barry could do that would interest me in the slightest, up to and including overdose."
Barry was famously videotaped in 1990, during his third term as mayor, smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room during an FBI sting. He served a six-month prison sentence.
In a story published Tuesday in The Washington Post, Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. called Page's e-mail "a terrible mistake" and said he had taken "appropriate internal action." Neither Downie nor Page would disclose what the action was. Page plans to take a previously scheduled four-month leave starting Jan. 1.
Downie also said Barry called him, and that Barry accepted his apology.
In an e-mail to Barry's aide, Andre Johnson, Page said he was sorry for his "rude" response. "I am deeply ashamed for what I did and I know how hateful my words could be."
Page said he had been cursed by a Barry staffer during an earlier phone request to be taken off the council member's e-mail list. Johnson said he had no previous contact with Page and has no record of such a request.
Barry said he was "outraged" at the e-mail, "particularly coming from a reporter at a reputable newspaper like The Washington Post, not a rag." He said Page "ought to be fired, and The Washington Post ought to run an editorial apology."
Page won the Pulitzer for his music criticism in 1997, two years after joining the paper