Tongue planted firmly in cheek, John Merrow questioned Rick Hess’s anguished post about the failure of reform in D.C. under Michelle Rhee and her deputy Kaya Henderson. Hess admitted that “reformers” circled the wagons and refused to listen to naysayers, but he blamed the naysayers for being critical of the fraud and the coverup.

John Merrow spent many hours covering Michelle Rhee as the PBS education correspondent, and it was only at the end of her reign of error that the scales fell from his eyes. But fall they did, and he has since documented the depth of the flimflam that Rhee, Henderson, and their enablers perpetrated.

When Merrow read Hess’ apologia, he reached for the phone to question Rick, but Rick was on a national speaking tour. 

The phone at the American Enterprise Institute was answered, Merrow said, by a woman with a French accent.

“I told the young woman that I had the press release in my hand and had hoped to talk with him before he left. I asked her whether he was going to apologize for being wrong about the so-called ‘school reforms’ in Washington, DC?

“Mais non. Monsieur Hess is going to be explaining why everyone of importance got it wrong about Washington. And zen he will explain how to get it right.”

“Hearing that upset me. I told her that a lot of us, including USA Today, Guy Brandenburg, Diane Ravitch, Mary Levy, the Washington City Paper, local politician Mark Simon, and me, got it right about DC. I told her that we have been saying for years that Michelle Rhee and Kaya Henderson were perpetrating a fraud.

“Zen, monsieur,” she said with a provocative giggle, “You must not be of importance, because Monsieur Rick explained it to me very clearly.”

“Tell me about the tour, I said. I see from the press release that The Four Seasons is the tour’s official hotel, NetJet the official airline, and Uber the official means of transportation. Will Rick be visiting schools?

“Oh, I don’t zink so,” she said. “Monsieur Rick, he does not like to be with noisy children. He prefers to talk to old people in auditoriums.”

“Will anyone else be appearing with Rick, I wanted to know? After all, lots of important people were wrong about DC: Arne Duncan, Checker Finn, Richard Whitmire, Campbell Brown, Katherine Bradley, Tom Toch, Andy Rotherham, Mike Petrilli, Whitney Tilson, Kati Haycock, the Washington Post, some major foundations, and others.”

Merrow is a notorious trickster. I suddenly remembered his resignation letter, when he announced that he was leaving PBS to join the board of Pearson. Or was that his April Fools’ letter?