Category Archives: Media

Bacon Bits: A Shout Out to Virginia’s Indy News Outlets

Here is a shout-out to three small publications that are covering important Virginia news stories while the commercial media continues to shrink into impotence, irrelevance, or in the case of the Washington Post, malevolence. — JAB

Give credit where credit is due. The Virginia Mercury is a left-of-center publication, but it is hammering the Northam administration for a lack of transparency regarding alleged Virginia Parole Board misconduct. An Office of the Inspector General (OSIG) report concluded this summer that the parole board had violated its victim-notification procedures when granting parole to a convicted killer. The Northam administration got wind of the findings, and when report was issued it was so heavily redacted that it was almost unreadable. Republicans have been raising hell about the lack of transparency… and the Mercury has been remarkably sympathetic. Read the Mercury’s latest update here.

Speaking of independent media outlets…. The newly created Virginia Star is establishing itself as a worthwhile news source. Today the publication featured an interview of Angela Greene, the female African-American police chief who was placed on administrative leave after her department announced felony charges against Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth. Lucas had helped organize a rally this summer in which protesters spray painted the a Confederate statue. Later that night, protesters beheaded four statues of soldiers attached to the monument, and the monument fell upon a man and killed him. The charges resulted in an uproar as Democrats rallied to the defense of Lucas, one of Virginia’s longest-serving African-American legislators. In the resulting fallout Greene, who herself had replaced a previous female African-American police chief, was canned. She gave her first public interview to the Star. Said she: “I was retaliated against because I refused to treat criminal behavior differently because of the alleged offenders race, creed, gender, or political affiliation.”

More COVID fallout. James Madison University recorded 783 students who accepted then withdrew or deferred their enrollment at JMU this fall. The unexpected loss of those students blew a $12.6 million hole in the university’s budget, reports the student newspaper The Breeze. The no-shows cited the coronavirus as the main cause for their decision. Some who unenrolled cited their fear that online classes would limit opportunities to connect with faculty. Others cited fears that they might expose vulnerable family members to the virus. Every university has been struggling with how to manage the virus, but JMU more than most. The student newspaper has been on top of the story from the beginning.

VMI Wins with Wins as Interim Superintendent

Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins

by James A. Bacon

The Virginia Military Institute has appointed retired Army Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, an African-American, as interim superintendent. He will serve while the Board of Visitors searches for a permanent replacement for retired Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, who resigned after Governor Ralph Northam announced an investigation into charges of “relentless racism” at the military academy.

You can read a straight news story about the appointment in the Richmond Times-Dispatch here.

You can read a jaundiced joke of a “news” story about the appointment by so-called “reporter” Ian Shapira in the Washington Post here.

First a few facts about Wins…. He graduated from VMI in 1985, sixteen years after the military academic was desegregated, and spent 34 years in the Army. Son of an Army veteran and police officer, Wins, now 57, attended VMI on a basketball scholarship and starred as a shooting guard. He remains on the team’s top all-five scorer’s list. After earning a degree in economics, he was required to serve three years in the Army. As the RTD recounts, although he had never intended to make the Army career, the Army kept presenting him with opportunities, and he kept on taking them. His final post before retirement was commander of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, the Army’s largest technology developer. Continue reading

WaPo’s Journalistic Jihad Against VMI Continues…

Ian Shapira

by James A. Bacon

President-elect Biden may be calling for national unity after a contentious presidential election, but the Washington Post hasn’t gotten the message. Post reporter Ian Shapira continues his campaign against the Virginia Military Institute, which he has charged is guilty of “relentless racism,” by slanting coverage of the pending state investigation of the military school.

Pajama boy

In a story co-authered with Laura Vozzella, he wrote:

RICHMOND — Virginia Senate Minority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. used inflammatory language Monday as he denounced the resignation of Virginia Military Institute’s superintendent, warning lawmakers: “You cannot let the media lynch VMI.”

Apparently, in the eyes of our media overlords, it is now problematical for white people to use the term “lynching.” The statement, writes Shapira, was jarring to some lawmakers because a white student in 2018 threatened to “lynch” a Black freshman. (VMI suspended the offending student, but no need to mar a spicy narrative with messy details.) Continue reading

COVID Is Still News

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

I seem to recall that contributors and comments on this blog often said that “come November 4, COVID will no longer be a big news item.” The implication, of course, was that the main national news organizations were hyping the COVID issue in order to damage the Trump administration.

Well, it is now November 9, almost one week after the election and Biden has been declared the winner. Let’s check on how COVID is being covered.

Washington Post

  • Print edition–lead story:  Biden Moves Fast on Virus and Economy.  Additional story:  Latest COVID surge is breaking records
  • website, 5:00 a.m. today — President-elect Biden announces coronavirus task force made up of physicians and health experts

New York Times 

  • Front page, print edition: “Terrifying” Surge Awaits a New Administration, sub-head: U.S. Virus Cases Pass 10 Million as Colder Weather Looms

Richmond Times-Dispatch Continue reading

America’s New Ruling Class: Washington Post Edition

So long, Stonewall

by James A. Bacon

That didn’t take long. In the wake of Washington Post articles alleging systemic racism at the Virginia Military Institute, the Board of Visitors voted Thursday to remove the statue of Stonewall Jackson from its campus. The action follows the Monday resignation of J.H. Binford Peay III, the institute’s superintendent, who had resisted calls to remove the statue on the grounds that Jackson, one of America’s iconic military geniuses, had been an instructor at the Institute before the Civil War.

After the board’s capitulation, Chairman John “Bill” Boland told the Washington Post, “It’s time to move forward. [The monument] was drawing a lot of fire and distracting from what our true mission is. The most important thing to me is to maintain our mission and our methods.”

The board also voted to create a diversity office and a diversity inclusion committee. Of its 17 board members, three are black, noted reporter Ian Shapira. Also, he observed, “All of the school’s top officials, including the VMI chief of staff, the faculty dean and the inspector general/Title IX coordinator, are White men.”

I got to thinking, how diverse is the Washington Post editorial staff? Does the Post live up to the standards it imposes on others? The newspaper lists its newsroom leadership here. You can click on the names, and in most cases you will find a photograph by which you can discern the individual’s gender and race. But I’ll save you the trouble. Scroll down and see if you detect a pattern. (To read my wrap-up, scroll all the way to the bottom.) Continue reading

Connolly: Expel VMI Students Guilty of Racist Conduct, Track Thought Crimes

Rep Gerald Connolly: Expel VMI students guilty of racist conduct. Question: Who decides what’s “racist” — the Washington Post? Photo credit: Stream.org.

by James A. Bacon

Representative Gerald Connolly, D-Va., and other congressional Democrats have written Governor Ralph Northam, calling for the expulsion of students at the Virginia Military Institute who have been found guilty of “racist or discriminatory conduct.”

Citing a Washington Post article that alleged the existence of “relentless racism” at the military institute, the letter from the House Armed Service Committee decried “lynching threats, professors openly reminiscing about the Ku Klux Klan, a campus culture that venerates the Confederacy and little to no disciplinary action by VMI.”

“We are dismayed that racism is tolerated and has been allowed to persist throughout VMI,” says the letter. The congressmen made three requests:

  1. Remove any statues or symbols that memorialize leaders of the Confederacy.
  2. Conduct regular climate surveys of cadets and recent alumni “to gauge the prevalence of racist beliefs, experiences of discrimination, and harassment within the institution.”
  3. Immediately expel “any offending cadet or faculty member who breaches the honor code through racist or discriminatory conduct.”

Continue reading

Stonewall Jackson: Getting It Right

by Kerry Dougherty

Newspapers aren’t what they once were. That’s especially true for the lean local papers that serve our area.

They’ve laid off staff, farmed out editing and rely heavily on wire copy from the national newspapers.

Yes, there is a knot of earnest young reporters trying desperately to cover the region, but they don’t have the numbers for comprehensive coverage and they’re all working without a net. Shoot, newspaper staff no longer have a building since the old Pilot offices on Brambleton Avenue were sold and The Daily Press headquarters in Newport News was shutdown last month.

There was a time when any story with even the most tenuous Virginia connection was covered aggressively by local staff writers. After all, they knew the commonwealth. Those big-shot, out-of-town scribes who parachuted in for the occasional national story didn’t.

Lately, however, even Navy stories are coming from the Associated Press and coverage of the alleged racial strife at the Virginia Military Institute are brought to readers courtesy of The New York Times. Continue reading

Why We Love Governor Ralph

Governor Northam loving those poll numbers. Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

By Peter Galuszka

He’s been through “coonman,” “blackface,” a muddled interview about late term abortion, and aggressive and controversial steps to stop the pandemic, but Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has sprinted through a recent statewide poll with flying colors.

According to a new Washington Post-Schar School poll, more than half of Virginia’s registered voters approve of the overall job performance of Gov. Ralph Northam, and an even larger majority support his handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic. “Northam’s job approval rating of 56 percent is up from 49 percent about a year ago and from 43 percent in the wake of his blackface scandal in early 2019, “The Post said.

“His disapproval is also up, at 38 percent from 31 percent last year, with far fewer voters now expressing no opinion. But his ratings remain net positive by 18 percentage points.”

The Governor gets a drubbing on this blog, but not with people who really count, given their numbers. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Governors

Pam Northam

by Kerry Dougherty

Every once in a while we get a delicious example of agenda-driven news coverage.

Last week, for instance.

On Thursday, headlines across the country gloated over news that Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons and his wife, Teresa had tested positive for COVID-19. Here, have a peek:

CNN: This Republican Governor Refused A Mask Mandate. Then He Got Covid.

AP: Missouri Governor, Opponent of Mandatory Masks, Has Covid-19.

Washington Post: Missouri’s Governor Has Refused to Mandate Masks. Now He Tested Positive…

Dripping with schadenfreude, aren’t they? Although they didn’t dare say it, the message clearly was, “We hope he dies. Would serve him right.”

Fast forward one day and these same media outlets learned that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and his wife, Pam, had tested positive for COVID-19. Did those headlines point out that he is part of the mask mandate crowd? Continue reading

Major Impacts of Northam’s War against Teachers

Federal school funding threatened; Democrats and unions in a bind; Lawsuits coming

Timing is Everything

by James C. Sherlock

Ralph Northam declared on August 30 of this year that Virginia’s schools are systemically racist and that teachers are presumptively racist and must be treated and monitored.

In addition to threatening to create turmoil in the schools and damage to the very students he apparently meant to help, the Governor has potentially kicked over a hornets’ nest worse than he stirred up with his infamous infanticide interview that resulted in the release of his blackface yearbook photo. 

And he may have set Virginia up for federal demands for repayments of Department of Education funds and related fines. At stake is a breathtaking amount of money that includes CARES Act funding, all of which has been contingent on compliance with the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The documented facts may also have put Democrats and their allies (in that word’s traditional and critical race theory definitions) in a large political bind.

Continue reading

More Bad News for Our Local Newspapers

by Kerry Dougherty

Yes, yes, we all complain about the local newspaper.

Its editorials are too liberal. The news coverage is too thin. Mistakes are too frequent.

No one can deny that The Virginian-Pilot is a shadow of what it was 15 years ago when the paper was humming with reporters and editors, when its military coverage was the best in the nation, when the newspaper relentlessly collected scalps of corrupt businessmen and politicians.

There was a time — not that long ago — when The Pilot was also considered the most elegant paper in America, with a crack photo department and a genius artist and designer, Sam Hundley, who won award after award for his artistic pages.

The newsroom staff numbered close to 300 at its peak. Shoot, our Virginia Beach bureau, in the old Beacon building, may have housed as many reporters as are covering the entire area now. Continue reading

The Media Meltdown Accelerates

by James A. Bacon

First Norfolk’s Virginian-Pilot merged with the Daily Press in Newport News. Then, the parent company, Tribune Publishing Co., closed the Pilot’s Norfolk office, telling reporters, editors and other employees they could work either at the Pilot’s press operation in Virginia Beach or the Daily Press office across the river. Then, Tribune shuttered the press operation. And now, reports Virginia Business, Tribune is closing the Newport News office.

It seems that Tribune has violated the terms of its leases by failing to pay rent and other charges since May 2019. Pointe Hope LLC, owner of the property, sued the newspaper for $110,000 in June.

The COVID-19 epidemic forced many employees in the Virginian-Pilot and Daily News news staffs to operate from home, and it now looks like the “virtual newsroom” for everyone will become permanent. Continue reading

Media Waters Getting Colder and Colder

The shrinkage of newsrooms at Virginia’s commercial newspapers continues apace. Lee Enterprises, owners of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Daily Progress, and Roanoke Times, among other newspapers, have confirmed another round of layoffs.

The RTD has eliminated positions for a business reporter, a photojournalist, a multimedia content provider, and a sports producer. Meanwhile, Iowa-based Lee Enterprises has cut 10 copy editing and design jobs at the Roanoke Times as part of  plan to centralize page design. And the Daily Progress has lost two news staff, including a digital content coordinator, reports Virginia Business.

Also, disclosed Virginia Business, the Daily Progress‘ four-person copy desk in Charlottesville will be laid off in October as part of Lee Enterprises’ centralization of copy editing functions. While those important functions will continue to be fulfilled, there is no way that out-of-state copy editors can replicate the local knowledge of home-based editors. Continue reading

A Sad Emblem of Our Times

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

A venerable Richmond-based printing company closed last May. Somehow, that really saddened me. Perhaps because it was located not far from where I live. Perhaps because it had been around for so long.  Perhaps because it had a niche business that seemed sort of neat to me. Perhaps because its closing seemed so emblematic of the times.

I meant to comment on it then, but other topics and activities kept bumping it down the list. Then, Jim’s post yesterday about the Virginia economy and some of the follow-up comments brought it back to my mind.

The William Byrd Press was founded in 1913. In 1984, it merged with a North Carolina company and was renamed Cadmus. By 2007, it had 500 employees and was the world’s largest printer for publishers of scientific, technical, and medical journals. It was the fifth largest printer of periodicals in North America. Continue reading

Elmer Gantry In Lynchburg

Jerry Falwell, Jr., and wife Becki

By Peter Galuszka

The resignation of Jerry Falwell Jr. amid a series of scandals may have a strong impact in Virginia where his late father built an extraordinary, ultra-conservative evangelical university in Lynchburg that later became highly politicized lightning rod supporting President Donald Trump.

Falwell has been caught up in a number of controversies including limiting speech on campus, going after The New York Times for trespassing when it reported he insisted that student ignore wearing anti-viral pandemic masks and so on.

What happened with Falwell Jr is as  an American story as apple pie topped with a Cross. It might have some straight out of the pages of Elmer Gantry.

After touting strict school policies that forbid students from drinking alcohol, watching “R”-rated movies or engaging in pre-marital sex, Falwell was pictured aboard a NASCAR mogul’s yacht half dressed with a semi-clad, pregnant woman who was said to be his wife Becki’s assistant. Falwell was holding a wine glass with a liquid in it but Falwell said it wasn’t wine.

Shortly afterwards, he gave an interview to the right-leaning Washington Examiner stating that his wife had been involved with a multi-year sexual affair with Giancarlo Granda, a former Miami Beach pool boy whom Falwell funded to set up a hostel business. Continue reading