Press Talk: When things go bad …

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian Editor



Of all the results we’re digesting from Tuesday’s election, the real head-scratcher was sitting Clark County Superior Court Judge John Wulle’s getting disrobed.

I mean, really.

This kind of thing hadn’t happened in 37 years. It’s difficult enough to boot any political incumbent … but a judge?

Santa mucca!

It’s not that those paying attention didn’t see the possibility.

A few years back, Wulle attended a conference in Los Angeles. When someone complimented the Clark County contingent there by awarding the group a star, Wulle had a response.

“I don’t need a star, I’m not a Jew.”

Maybe it was Wulle’s churlish New York upbringing. Maybe it was one too many drinks (he said the cough medicine made him do it).

But whatever prompted his mouth to release what was in his brain, it was unbecoming.

He followed his first blunder by referring to Clark County’s group facilitator at the conference as “the black gay guy.”

Toss in using profanity and making an obscene gesture, and it might have been difficult to distinguish him from some of those bad guys in his courtroom.

Shortly after his conference, we reported it all. I suspect Wulle wasn’t crazy about that. And surely he couldn’t have been too happy when I wrote this in a column back then:

“I think a reasonable person would conclude the words ‘boorish’ and ‘sophomoric’ would fit.”

To be sure, Wulle has his supporters. You see it in our website’s story comments. And shortly after Wulle’s infamous conference behavior, the late former Columbian Editor Tom Koenniger wrote a column saying Wulle’s “integrity shines through all activities.”

Wulle might have survived his conference antics, but then he stepped in it again recently because of his behavior in his courtroom.

Oh, my!

So who’s to blame here?

In today’s atmosphere, the media — in this case The Columbian — is always a prime suspect. When one is looking to divert attention, always blame the media. You see it in Web comments and from bloggers all the time.

Such is life.

Of course, the real answer is for folks to simply look at their own reflections.

The media doesn’t make this stuff up. We simply report it.

I would, however, agree that if we didn’t report it, Wulle would likely be continuing his $150,000-a-year gig.

But that’s our job. To report what’s going on out there.

And if I were to give any advice to politicians?

• You will never outrun your past. Deal with it.

• If you did stupid stuff in the past, try not to do more stupid stuff.

Part of me feels sorry for Wulle. I suspect most of the time he keeps himself in line. He takes out the garbage, mows his lawn and puts in a long day of work like most of us.

Also like for most of us, life will throw him a curve ball. How you respond to that curve ball will be a true test of your character.

It’s time to move on.

Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505, or

Don't Do Stupid Stuff Mugs