Mayor Mike McGinn Accuses King 5 of Light Rail Lie

UPDATE: King 5 is sticking to its guns. Details after the jump.

What's in an ellipsis? Everything, if you're Mayor Mike McGinn.

Last night King 5 ran an "exclusive" report that claimed McGinn's own commissioned study "slams" his proposal for light rail-only lanes rather than carpool on the new 520 bridge. Reporter Linda Brill wrote that the consultants hired by McGinn said "the focus of the effort on 520 should... not replace the current planning and design underway." A design that includes carpool.

But this morning McGinn issued a press release saying that King 5's ellipsis represents a "selective edit" which is "factually untrue" and reverses the conclusion of the mayor's report. And reading over the statement, it looks like the mayor might have a point.

McGinn claims that the full sentence reads, "The focus of effort on SR 520 should be assessing the potential to add a second cross-Lake Washington LRT corridor, not to replace the current planning and design work underway."

Assuming the mayor's office isn't being selective about its quotes either, that sure looks like King 5 reported what it wanted to report. Which would be understandable if, say, they were only leaked that quote as is. Less so considering they crowed about having obtained the full draft.

Leaving aside the fact that this is just one arcane nugget in an infinitesimally complicated issue -- and that consultant's studies are largely worthless anyway, seeing as how they're mostly a tool for confirming what the person paying for them wants to hear -- King 5 looks like they dropped the ball on this one. I've got a call in to figure out what's what. Should get an answer from the news station sometime around noon, as everyone who's anyone is currently in a story meeting.

UPDATE: In a phone call, news director Mark Ginther says his station didn't twist anyone's words.

Instead, he insists that King 5's reading of the study as not being supportive of McGinn's proposal for light rail is accurate. He also says that his station never said the study "slams" McGinn, which is plainly not true considering the word is in their headline and repeated by anchor Dennis Bounds.

Ginther may be sticking by his guns. But his explanation looks a lot weaker after this morning's press conference on the study.

The main conclusion is that light rail on 520 is possible, but only if it's planned for in advance. A rail retrofit after the six-lane expansion is already complete would cost too much money. In light of this, the quote that King 5 mashed together looks, as McGinn insisted, to be a complete reversal of what was actually intended.

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