Category Archives: Media

Progressive Dogma Untethered to Results – Voter Laws Edition

by James C. Sherlock

The armies of the progressive left are what the great political scientist George Edwards called “Prisoners of Their Premises.” Many persons and institutions are captives, to a greater or lesser degree.

Lesser is better in this case. Mistakes flow from the best of intentions. You can learn from them or repeat them.

The United States military late in the Vietnam war mandated and then made a science out of analyzing its mistakes in order to learn from them.

At the unit level, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines debrief after every training and combat mission. At higher levels the reviews are periodic, but also professionally honest. Combat training schools capture, but do not enshrine those lessons. Because there is always a next time, newer equipment, newer force compositions, newer enemies and newer lessons.

It is the only way to improve systematically.

Many progressives, in solitary confinement with their dogma, are often wrong but always certain. When their policy prescriptions fail to provide the predicted results, which is most of the time, outcomes are ignored or blamed on outside factors beyond their control. Core beliefs, unchallenged, are undisturbed.

Consider for illustration recent voting law changes. Continue reading

The Fall of the Regional Press in Virginia – Virginian-Pilot Edition

By James C. Sherlock

One of my morning newspapers is The Virginian-Pilot.   It used to be an outstanding regional newspaper. Shrunken to a sliver of its former self, it is no longer.

Small size need not compromise integrity, but it has in this case.

The Pilot unapologetically accepts, apparently without review, wire service reports on national news based entirely on the alignment of the stories with the political narrative the Pilot supports.   With no concern for accuracy.

Readers look in vain for stories unhelpful to the left.

A front page story by Lisa Mascaro of the Associated Press was headlined today:

Defense of Roe falls to filibuster.  GOP senators block vote on bill to secure access to abortion

Regardless of one’s personal view on the subject of abortion, the headline and the story below it were false.

Continue reading

A Lot of Unanswered Questions

The Chambers family. Photo credit: Richmond Times Dispatch

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Painting racial slurs on the face of an unconscious Black teenage boy is wrong.

That being said, a recent incident in the Richmond area leads to a lot of questions, including concerning the quality of reporting done by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

According to an RTD on-line story Friday by reporter Mark Bowes, a Powhatan special prosecutor was looking into a 2020 incident in which a 16-year-old Black youth passed out intoxicated at a party in Powhatan County. While he was unconscious,”… the N-word, the letters KKK, a drawing of a penis, the phrase “F— BLM” and ‘White Lives Matter’ [were] scrawled on his head.” Also, he was draped with a Confederate flag and a sex toy was placed next to his head. As teenagers will do, others at the party took pictures of him and posted them on social media. Reportedly, this type of thing had been done before, as a “party joke.” Continue reading

Bylined Utility Puffery in Richmond Times-Dominion

by Steve Haner

I guess what shows up in the driveway every morning is now called the Richmond Times-Dominion.

On yesterday’s front page, and today picked up and spread across the state by the Virginia Public Access Project, was a long, puffy public relations piece about Dominion’s proposed Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project. It was written by the paper’s climate-alarmism correspondent Sean Sublette. It was a byline on a company news release, not something real newspapers do.

What the casual observer will miss is that it also represents a trend. The same writer, who came to the paper from a climate alarmism non-profit, about a week earlier wrote a similarly one-sided report based on Dominion’s claims of coming success in its rollout of utility-scale battery projects. Back on April 1, he quoted the company’s own cheery take on a recent State Corporation Commission approval of various solar and storage projects.

All three articles quoted only company spokesmen and provided only the company spin.  Readers who stopped there would know nothing about any disputes during the SCC proceedings, long-term costs to consumers, or any of the widespread doubts about the reliability of the underlying technology. Continue reading

The Washington Post’s Sleazy Tactics

by Kerry Dougherty

For those who are new around here, I spent 42 years in newspapers. I may not know much about many topics, but I have a clear, first-hand understanding of daily journalism.

Until rather recently newspapers did a pretty good job of breaking news stories on deadline, while reliably getting it right. Not easy.

But for the past 15 years or so, as newspapers circled the drain, they offloaded experienced editors with skills and standards and replaced them with young, agenda-driven propagandists.

The result? Stories filled with mistakes, half-truths and the occasional lie.

It’s gotten to the point that I can barely get through an entire newspaper without wanting to hurl it at a wall. Many of my former colleagues feel the same way.

Here’s just one glaring example of misinformation spread by a number of Virginia newspapers last month. Continue reading

Washington Post Editorial Board Nails a Belly Flop

Why is this man laughing?

by James C. Sherlock

We sometimes note here that the editorial boards of the largest press outlets in Virginia can seem out of touch.

Most lack philosophical balance on their editorial boards. We get that. It is their right.

But that in turn can create intellectual echo chambers, denying the discipline offered by internal challenges. Such discussions can weed out embarrassments before publication. Without them, editorials are vulnerable to occasionally displaying a stunning lack of self-awareness.

Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post, in order to prove the point, editorialized:

If you can’t join them, buy them. This is the philosophy billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk appears to have adopted as he launches a hostile takeover bid for the social media platform Twitter. Let’s hope he doesn’t succeed.

Seriously. They published that.

Corporate Media Is Hostile to You and Your Religious Beliefs

by Kerry Dougherty

Chances are you were too busy last weekend, or too smart, to bother with The New York Times.

But had you glanced at it, as I did, you would have seen this piece, promoted on the front page:

“In This Time of War, I Propose We Give Up God.”

The editors of The Times ran this story on a weekend that is holy to all three major religions: for Christians, it was Easter. For Jews, Passover. And for Muslims, this is part of the holy month of Ramadan.

I read the piece, by the way. Written by a Jewish man apparently still haunted by some of the metaphorical stories he heard in his youth about the ancient Jews.

In my opinion, it was drivel. But even drivel has its place.

But why was it published on this particular weekend? Did anyone at The Times consider that the article might be offensive to those with a religious bent? Who at that newspaper thought the timing was exquisite? Continue reading

A Complete Disconnect from Reality

Barbara Johns, a participant in the Prince Edward County school walkout, is pictured prominently in WTOP’s article.

by James A. Bacon

A group of Black leaders has launched an initiative to preserve the teaching of Black history against what it calls a “whitewashing” by Governor Glenn Youngkin. Black History Is American History, a collaboration of the Leadership Conference Education Fund, the NAACP, and People for the American Way, has formed in response to Youngkin’s promise to rid public schools of “inherently divisive concepts,” reports WTOP News.

“Governor Youngkin’s misguided and ignorant attempt to whitewash history and gag educators only builds on the legacy of discrimination against Black communities, Native communities, and other communities of color across Virginia,” states the initiative’s web page.

Amy Tillerson Brown, education chair of the Virginia NAACP, recounted the history of Barbara Johns and hundreds of Black classmates who walked out of school in Prince Edward County in 1951 in protest against segregated education. This watershed event led to the famous Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court case.

“There are some people who might find Barbara Johns’ contribution to civil rights history disturbing, divisive, even,” Brown said, as quoted by WTOP. “This historical reality makes some people uncomfortable, as it requires students to critique the historical circumstances that allowed this race-based inequity.”

I defy Brown to find a scintilla of evidence that Youngkin would forbid teaching uncomfortable facts such as the Prince Edward walkouts in history classes. To suggest that he would represents one of two things: either a deliberate effort to distort the Governor’s intent — a knowing lie — or the product of group-think reinforced by a left-wing echo chamber totally unplugged from reality. In either case, Virginia’s mainstream media plays a critical role in perpetuating the falsehood. Continue reading

Moran’s Green Energy Ties Ignored by Media

Matt Moran
Photo credit: Creative Direct

by Steve Haner

If the Commonwealth of Virginia was not paying Matthew Moran to serve as Governor Glenn Youngkin’s deputy chief of staff and point person with the General Assembly, as recently revealed, who was? Based on the websites for his employers, mainly the renewable energy industry.

For example, Moran is identified as on the Virginia advisory board of an advocacy group called Conservatives for Clean Energy, strong supporters of the push to eliminate fossil fuel use in the state and replace it with solar and wind-driven electricity. Continue reading

Bad Journalism and Echo-Chamber References Lead to Libel at UVa

by James C. Sherlock

Mike Pence, agree with him or not on any issue, is a good man.

He has traditional values that have formed the basis of his political and personal lives. He is also a gentleman, unfailingly courteous.

Traditional values, traditional courtesy. Disconcerting, even threatening to some. Continue reading

Dig, WaPo, Dig! You’re Halfway to China!

by James A. Bacon

It’s fascinating to watch The Washington Post try to dig itself out of the pit it created for itself with its coverage of a Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS) letter that was critical of the Youngkin administration. The WaPo news team appears to have forgotten the First Law of Holes: “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”

VASS Executive Director Howard Kiser said in the text of the March 10 letter that he was communicating “on behalf of” the state’s 133 public school superintendents in urging Governor Glenn Youngkin to stop his campaign against the teaching of divisive concepts in schools. The lede in the WaPo story interpreted that to mean that “all 133 Virginia public school division superintendents” supported the letter.

Follow-up reporting by other media revealed a very different story. Kiser clarified that the letter was “crafted and adopted” by VASS’ 12-member board and “doesn’t necessarily reflect a consensus among all its members.” WJLA television found two superintendents willing to say off the record that they had not seen the letter before it was sent out. Meanwhile, in Campbell County, a school superintendent submitted a resolution supporting Youngkin’s campaign against inherently divisive concepts relating to race (without mentioning the letter). In response to a reporter’s question, Youngkin opined that the letter was a “gross misrepresentation of what superintendents believe, I believe.”

So, yesterday the WaPo published the following headline: “Youngkin says superintendents back him but offers little evidence.” States the summary paragraph: “Little evidence has emerged to support the administration’s claim that there is widespread dissatisfaction among superintendents with the letter.”

Nice trick. Rather than concede that it had misconstrued the letter, the WaPo is trying to make Youngkin’s statement the issue and is shifting the burden of proof to the Governor to back his claim. Continue reading

Know the Terms of Surrender in Negotiating With Teachers Unions

Courtesy of Show Me Institute

by James C. Sherlock

Franklin Roosevelt thought collective bargaining agreements incompatible with public sector work.

Today’s left, unburdened by the public interest, finds FDR’s principles at best quaint.

Since May of last year collective bargaining is legal in Virginia for local government employees by local option, but for not state employees.

The issues most people think of being negotiated by unions are pay and benefits and, in blue collar unions, on-the-job safety. For teachers unions, we need to be sure negotiations are limited to pay and benefits, or they will take over the running of the schools.

Such a takeover is now policy in Richmond Public Schools. Continue reading

The VASS Letter: Another MSM Lie Exposed

Image credit: Flickr

by James A. Bacon

When The Washington Post published an article four days ago claiming that “all 133 Virginia public school division superintendents” had called upon Governor Glenn Youngkin to end his campaign against “divisive” concepts in schools, only two media outlets in Virginia questioned the veracity of the statement. One was Kerry Dougherty’s blog, Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited (republished in this blog). The other was WJLA-Channel 7.

Stories published in the Post, the Richmond Times-Dispatch and other media were based on a letter issued by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents. In the letter, VASS executive director Howard B. Kiser stated that he was writing “on behalf of the 133 public school division superintendents” and reiterating “key points that were shared by division superintendents.”

Yesterday Dougherty picked up on a statement buried in a WRIC-television news report — “Kiser clarified that the letter was crafted and adopted by the 12 member board and doesn’t necessarily reflect a consensus among all of its members” — that triggered her journalistic spidey senses. What were the odds, she asked, that 133 school superintendents would unanimously endorse a letter critical of Youngkin’s education policy?

More reason to question the argument that Virginia’s school superintendents were “unanimous” in their opposition to Youngkin appeared in an article published by WJLA today. The television station quoted Youngkin as saying, “It’s my understanding that in fact there was not a vote, this was a board of an association that wrote a letter and mischaracterized the support they had for that letter.”

Then the Washington-area television station did something remarkable. Its news team actually started calling public school superintendents. Continue reading

Lazy Mainstream Media Lied to Virginia

by Kerry Dougherty

Chances are you saw them. Friday’s headlines screaming that “133 Virginia School Superintendents” were protesting Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s reforms to public education, which had been a cornerstone of his campaign.

Every dang school chief in the commonwealth opposes him, they claimed.

Here’s the first paragraph from The Washington Post:

RICHMOND — All 133 Virginia public school division superintendents have urged Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) to scrap the “tip line” set up to let parents complain about teachers and principals and have asked him to stop his campaign against the teaching of “divisive” content in schools.

The old newspaper reporter in me was skeptical. EVERY superintendent in Virginia? Not a single one supports the governor? Even the superintendents in the small, conservative enclaves of Southwestern Virginia? They’re all on board with equity training and equity-based outcomes?

The protest letter came from the Virginia Association of School Superintendents. Like most education organizations this one leans left. Membership dues are on a sliding scale, depending on the size of the school district. Since professional dues are almost usually covered by taxpayers, this non-profit is indirectly funded by the public.

Lucky us.

Turns out those headlines were — let’s be honest — lies. Continue reading

What? The General Assembly Is Still Meeting?

Bob Brown, Richmond Times Dispatch photojournalist. Photo credit: Richmond Times Dispatch

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Jeff Shapiro has a nice column in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch praising the work of the Bob Brown, the long-time news photographer who is retiring, after 42 years at the RTD, at the end of this month. His photographs have captured many moments in the legislature over the years and he is a common sight at the Capitol and around committee meetings.

Beyond the praise for Brown, what struck a chord with me was Shapiro’s description of what news coverage of the legislature used to be like and how the coverage has decreased over time. Today is a good example of that withering. It is Thursday, two days before the legislature is supposed to adjourn. Prominent legislation still needs to finalized. The budget conferees have missed their deadline for reporting a budget bill, meaning that the session may go into overtime or adjourn without an agreed-upon budget. Continue reading