Wayne Barrett, R.I.P.

In its obituary for long-time Village Voice columnist Wayne Barrett, the New York Times described him as a “fierce muckraker.”

We don’t have too many of those anymore. Oh, there’s plenty of “fierce,” but a real scarcity of muckrakers. Finding actual evidence to justify your anger is hard work.

He wrote books about New York City politics, and a newly relevant one in 1992 about Donald Trump. But my exposure to Barrett’s work was because of his pointed criticisms of the United Federation of Teachers, of which he was once a member.

“As someone who’s spent a lifetime on the left, covering politics for nearly 40 years at the Village Voice, I’ve long been angered by the refusal of many on my side to even acknowledge that the UFT is a special-interest group,” he wrote in 2014.

Norm Scott of Ed Notes Online has helpfully posted a bunch of links related to Barrett’s work on UFT, even though Norm disagreed with many of his stances.

“We are detectives for the people,” Barrett once said of his profession. I’m afraid that perspective died long before he did.

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