Yet another NBC journalist is fighting to prevent the unwashed masses from befouling the sanctity of their ritzy Washington, D.C., neighborhood. Longtime host Andrea Mitchell is among the wealthy homeowners on Chain Bridge Road NW—described as "one of Washington's most exclusive and prestigious streets"—who are aggressively opposing measures to allow greater access to unsavory drivers and pedestrians.
Washington City Paper reports that the "quintessentially D.C. dispute" dates back to at least 2009, when residents of the wealthy neighborhood successfully pushed back against city plans to build sidewalks for pedestrians in the interest of public safety. Opponents complained that doing so would make the posh neighborhood feel more "urban," a racist euphemism for "not white."
In recent weeks the D.C. Department of Transportation has taken steps to close the road to through traffic, a move some critics view as a blatant example of government officials protecting the interests of wealthy homeowners to the detriment of the greater public.
Mitchell got involved in 2021 when the local neighborhood commissioners once again raised the issue of building sidewalks. The journalist was horrified at the thought. "These are homes that were originally built during the Civil War. Mine was built in 1865, as was my next-door neighbor's, as farm houses by freed slaves," she said at a meeting last September. "This is a historic community."
Wealthy liberals across the country frequently tout the "historic" character of their neighborhoods to scuttle plans that would make them more accessible and affordable for people of color. Robert Reich, a left-wing professor at the University of California-Berkeley, used similar language while attempting to block a proposal to build low-income housing units in his fancy neighborhood.
"If historic preservation means anything, it means maintaining enough of the character of an older neighborhood to remind people of its history and provide continuity with the present," Reich wrote in 2020. "Development for the sake of development makes no sense when it imposes social costs like this."
Mitchell is merely the most recent NBC journalist to publicly oppose efforts to make her neighborhood more accommodating to average folks. Former wunderkind host Luke Russert, who retired at age 30, made a fuss last year after a Georgetown science professor placed two large statues of iconic Transformers characters outside his home, which neighbors Russert's $4 million pad. Children loved them, but Russert denounced them as a safety hazard that could attract unsavory visitors who might park illegally to take photos of their kids posing with the statues.
At one point during a neighborhood commission meeting, Russert suggested that failing to remove the statues was akin to endorsing Soviet communism in America. "What's to stop someone from putting up a statue of Joseph Stalin and saying, ‘Well, this is provocative, it's art, it speaks to me,'" Russert said. "They are a nuisance, they are an eyesore, and they detract from the spirit of the neighborhood."