Detroit mayor's lesson: Don't text message your sex, OK?

Also, don't lie about the text messages in court.

By Farhad Manjoo
January 25, 2008 1:03AM (UTC)
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The Detroit Free Press has a journalistic doozy today: Through a string of sexually suggestive and explicit text message conversations, the paper discovered that Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Christine Beatty, his longtime chief of staff, were romantically involved -- and not only that, but they lied about the relationship during a whistle-blower courtroom case last year.


The mayor and Beatty used city government-issued SkyTel pagers to send each other many naughty notes, such as this one from Kilpatrick to Beatty on Oct. 16, 2002: "I've been dreaming all day about having you all to myself for 3 days...relaxing, laughing, talking, sleeping and making love."

Kilpatrick's and Beatty's relationship was a central issue in a lawsuit filed against the city by two former police officers, who charged that the mayor retaliated against them after they took part in an internal affairs investigation that could have uncovered the affair.

During the trial, both Kilpatrick and Beatty vehemently and indignantly denied the affair. Those denials could make them liable for perjury charges, legal experts tell the paper.


The Machinist's interest in the case is of a public-service nature. This goes out to all the philanderers and perjurers out there, whatever your station in life, even if you happen to be mayor of a large, once-shining American city: Though the pressure to do so is sometimes intense, please, for the love of all things good, refrain from text messaging your booty calls.

I promise you, you'll regret it: Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, someone's going to get a hold of meticulously documented records of your assignations, and you'll have to wake up and see -- as Kilpatrick did today -- a long-ago moment of weakness splashed across the front page. A moment such as this one:

KK: That's the first time that I couldn't fully seduce you. My game is off. LOL! Thanx for the conversation and the QT! Love you!
CB: LOL! Your game is way on baby! "you had me at hello!" Jerry McGuire 2000. LOL. I just didn't want to get caught.

(Incidentally: What's the deal with saying "you had me at hello" and then documenting the reference with a movie title and release year? What odd pedantry. That's classic David Brent!)


Not every cell carrier keeps records of every text message and page you send, but when in doubt -- and when you're conducting affairs as delicate as those between Kilpatrick and Beatty, you've got to have some doubt -- assume that yours does.

Same goes for e-mail, needless to say: That suggestive note you're about to dash off, anticipating "the beef train pulling in to tuna station"? Don't send that.


The Free Press does not make exactly clear how it obtained the text message records. The paper and the mayor have fought for years in court over the documents.

The paper says that it eventually got the documents through other means, and then confirmed their authenticity with SkyTel and by cross-referencing the messages with the mayor's calendar and city credit card records.

You can read some of the messages here, but the Free Press says it's not releasing the very explicit ones.

Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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