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It’s not so much that Brian wrote a very unBrian-like post passing along a mean and essentially meaningless story about Angie Barrett. But then he felt the strange compulsion to post another one. What’s gotten into that boy?

I know this story well because I investigated it right after it happened. The headline on Brian’s first post, “Angie Barrett never beat up her husband, did she?” deserves an answer: No, she didn’t. He scratched his hand on her car key trying to take it away from her because he didn’t want her driving under the influence. Nobody disagrees with that (except Brian’s headline). But then the Observer–without bothering to check with anyone who knew anything–decided that bad things in back rooms made the incident disappear. To quote Brian

But influence (or something like that) allows the Barretts to have the charges dropped, and the Morning News spikes a story about said influence (the Barretts are also big contributors to the paper’s charity fund drive, or something like that).

In other words, Brian buys what the Observer is selling–and then peddles it himself. Tsk, tsk. Big boys should know better (after all, you’re using the Observer as a source, forgodsake). I talked with the Highland Park police chief who thought it was a “non-event” but who forwarded the case to the DA because in domestic violence cases that’s what the law says he is supposed to do. I talked with the ADA in charge of domestic violence, who said she dismissed the case without a second thought as she does most of the routine cases that now flood in because of the domestic violence reporting requirement, and that Bill Hill knew nothing about it. I looked up Bill Hill’s campaign donations, one of which came from Bill Barrett in the huge influence-peddling amount of $1,000.

So what is Brian trying to say with these two posts? That the News should have mentioned it? Okay, I can see that. After all, there was an incident report. But he’s also saying the DA wouldn’t pursue the matter because Barrett is a contributor. That’s hogwash. A carefully constructed pose of cynicism is the Observer’s main game, of course, which is funny because it so often reveals nothing more than naivete. But it ain’t our game.

When we ran a story about Angie Barrett’s past some years ago, she went full out to get every advertiser we had to cancel. She tried to put us out of business. She’s not the first one, and she wasn’t the last. But that story on Crystal Charity was true. It’s a standard I’d like to see us stick to.