Whopper of the Week: Peggy Cooper Cafritz

Oh, that Web essay …

“I did not write that. That’s really scary. … I guess somebody had to have hacked into [my Web site], because I sure as hell didn’t put it up there because it’s not mine.”

Washington, D.C., School Board President Peggy Cooper Cafritz explaining why a Cafritz-bylined essay denouncing school vouchers was on her Web site one month after Cafritz endorsed school vouchers in a Washington Post op-ed. Quoted in Justin Blum and Yolanda Woodlee’s April 24 Washington Post story, A Mystery Writer Puts Words in Cafritz’s Mouth.”


“Cafritz retracted those comments this week after her former executive assistant said in an interview that he and Cafritz had written the essay last year and that she had approved it. The former assistant, Philip E. Pannell, also noted that the essay was published under Cafritz’s byline in two D.C. community newspapers in August.


” ‘I apologize for telling you something that was untrue,’ Cafritz said in a voice-mail message to a reporter.”

Justin Blum’s May 1 Washington Post story, “In Reversal, Cafritz Says She Wrote Web Essay.”

Discussion. Many would argue that the bigger lie is the habit of public officials to sign their names to documents they’ve scarcely read, let alone written. A sound point, but one poorly suited to this column’s steadfast literal-mindedness.


Got a whopper? Send it to To be considered, an entry must be an unambiguously false statement paired with an unambiguous refutation, and both must be derived from some appropriately reliable public source. Preference will be given to newspapers and other documents that Chatterbox can link to online.

Whopper Archive:
April 17, 2003: Eason Jordan
March 7, 2003: John Kerry
Feb. 28, 2003: Ari Fleischer
Feb. 14, 2003: Bill O’Reilly
Feb. 7, 2003: Saddam Hussein
Jan. 31, 2003: Karl Rove
Jan. 23, 2003: Bill Frist
Jan. 17, 2003: Naji Sabri
Jan. 10, 2003: Rod Paige

(Click here  to access the Whopper Archive for 2002 and here  to access the Whopper Archive for 2001.)