We'll miss The Examiner, on several fronts

This town isn't big enough for two Michael Phelpses.

Baltimore still has its Olympic superstar, but it is losing the newspaper with the like-named CEO.

And it is a loss.

Of local color.

(We'll miss The Baltimore Examiner's "Bludgeoned!" "INSANE?" and other punchy New York Post-style headlines.)

Of social status.

(I never felt richer than when The Examiner, supposedly delivered only to the most affluent homes in Baltimore, made its first, surprise appearance on my humble Southwest Baltimore driveway. I'd arrived!)

Of employment options.

(Even if Examiner Editor Frank Keegan never did call back to discuss that job offer he randomly left on my voice mail in May, the paper gave some young, hardworking reporters - not to mention some less young, ex-Baltimore Sun colleagues - another place to ply their trade. Especially given the newspaper industry's woes, no one wants to see more out-of-work journalists.)

That said, there are a few upsides to the tabloid's demise, seemingly announced by the last two days' screaming fronts: "WE ARE IN TROUBLE" and "NO CONFIDENCE."

Sheila Dixon's "Cleaner, Greener" campaign will get a boost as all those "No Free Newspapers" signs come down.

And Robert Clay can finally rest in peace.

Clay, a prominent businessman, killed himself in 2005, according to the state medical examiner, city police and the FBI. The Examiner has never bought that explanation, just as it's never bought the city's homicide figures, and the paper wrote many a story to that effect.

The Sun, too, has reported questions surrounding Clay's death and the murder tally. But The Examiner went further. It all but accused City Hall of hiding bodies to keep the homicide count down. It even insinuated that Clay was offed because he'd challenged then-Mayor Martin O'Malley's minority contracting practices.

It wasn't all conspiracies. The paper had some good scoops, and the competition was good for The Sun. Too bad they couldn't even give it away.

Obama pokes fun at wimpiness
President Barack Obama poked some fun at the winter-weather wimpiness that closed Washington's Sidwell Friends School as well as schools across Maryland the other day.

"My children's school was canceled today because of what? Some ice?" he said Wednesday to the amusement of a group gathered to discuss economics, a science more dismal than meteorology.

"As my children pointed out, in Chicago school is never canceled," Obama went on. "In fact, my 7-year-old pointed out that, you'd go outside for recess in weather like this. ... We're going to have to try to apply some flinty Chicago toughness to this town."

Obama got plenty of laughs, but Mother Jones had the last one. On its blog, the magazine recalled how, months ago, it had made a "meager plea" to the Obamas to consider sending their children to D.C. public schools. Those schools had only a delayed opening Wednesday.

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