Category Archives: Media

Another Daily Newspaper Circles the Drain

Down with the ship!

by James A. Bacon

The Daily Progress, Charlottesville’s daily newspaper, no longer offers daily delivery on its website, reports WINA talk show host Rob Schilling. Potential subscribers are given only two options at the newspaper website: a digital subscription (introductory offer of $1.00 for 26 weeks) and a month of Sunday-only delivery for $21.67.

Describing the “once flourishing publication” as in its death throes, Schilling details the newspaper’s plight:

  • only two dedicated local news reporters;
  • only a single local news story in most editions;
  • a preponderance of reprints from sister publications like the Richmond Times-Dispatch;
  • An increasing number of typos and publishing errors; and
  • Woke, leftist journalistic style, and a leftist slant to everyday news reporting.

Continue reading

About Those 30 Police Shootings in Virginia Last Year…

Donovon Lynch, the shooting victim you heard of. Photo credit: Pharrell Williams/Instagram

by James A. Bacon

Police shootings generate an inordinate amount of attention in the media, but the number of incidents is remarkably rare. Of the millions of interactions in 2021 between police and citizens here in Virginia, including 187,000 arrests, there were 30 police shootings resulting in injury or death, according to the Crime in Virginia 2021 report/. Of those incidents, 19 resulted in fatalities, and 12 in injuries. (One incident resulted in two injuries.)

One shooting for every 6,300 arrests. That’s not the impression you’d get from watching Hollywood-produced television and movies… or paying attention to the media, for that matter.

Richard F. Thomas, the unarmed shooting victim you never heard of.

If you found that figure surprising, brace yourself for the real shocker — the racial identity of the shooting victims.

A Skeptic Research Center poll asked the question, “how many unarmed Black men were killed by police in 2019?” Twenty percent of respondents identifying as “very liberal” guessed the number to be about 10,000 or more. Even small percentages of self-identified conservatives gave the same response.

As the Skeptic Research Center noted, the media-fed popular impression was wildly off. Nationally, only 13 unarmed Black men were fatally shot by police in 2019. Last year, here in Virginia, that widespread perception is even more divorced from reality. Here follows a list of Virginia shooting victims in 2021 culled from The Washington Post police fatal shooting database: Continue reading

What’s With All the TJ Haters?

Click for more legible image.

I was pleased to have an opportunity this morning to discuss the swelling anti-Thomas Jefferson sentiment in contemporary culture on The John Reid show on WRVA. In particular, I criticized the University of Virginia Alumni Association for turning down an ad from The Jefferson Council (on whose board I serve) that defended Jefferson’s reputation for opposing slavery and questioned the widespread assertion that he raped his slave Sally Hemings. Listen to the interview here. Thanks for giving us a voice, John!

While I’m at it, let me put in a plug for John’s morning broadcast. John is a critical player in Virginia’s small but vocal conservative media ecosystem. Click here to view the list of news makers he has interviewed in the past few days.

Update: Charlottesville talk radio host Joe Thomas interviewed Jefferson Council board member Buddy Weber on the controversy. Lissten to the podcast here.

Update: Shaun Kenney at The Republican Standard uses the ad controversy as a jumping-off point to broader discussion of how Thomas Jefferson and other historical figures are treated today. Kenney leans to the view that Jefferson was the father of Hemings’ children, but he does not treat the interpretation as settled dogma.

Writes Kenney: “Much as there is no such thing as unquestionable science, there should be no such thing as unquestionable history. Reproducibility and replication based on record and evidence remains the gold standard.”


The Only Thing “Systemic” About VMI Is the WaPo’s Cherry Picking of Data

by James A. Bacon

Washington Post reporter Ian Shapira was up to his old tricks in an article published over the weekend about Governor Glenn Youngkin’s appointments to the Virginia Military Institute Board of Visitors. Predictably, he portrayed the divisions at VMI as between rival camps of those who “support change” and “those resisting it” — a vacuous description of the controversies dogging the military academy. It is more accurate today to characterize the rival camps as those who believe VMI needs a good dose of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion to redress past racial wrongs versus those who regard DEI’s raising of racial consciousness as antithetical to VMI’s socially egalitarian culture.

Be that as it may, Shapira frets that Youngkin’s appointment of four Republicans to the 17-person board “would roll back some of the efforts designed to make VMI more inclusive and diverse.” Only 6% of the Institute’s 1,650 cadets are Black, he notes, and only 14% are women.

Let’s set aside the obvious facts that women are far less interested in pursuing military careers than men, that they comprise only 16.5% of Americans in uniform, and that few college-bound women are interested in undergoing the rigors of the Rat Line.

Let us focus instead upon Shapira’s discussion of race at VMI. Youngkin’s board selections, he wrote, made VMI “slightly less racially diverse” by replacing one Black member, Sean Lanier, whose term had expired. “The new makeup of the VMI board includes nine White men, four Black men, two White women, one Hispanic man and one Native American woman.” Continue reading

African-Americans the Main Victims of Virginia Crime Wave

by James A. Bacon

The Virginia State Police has published its 2021 Crime in Virginia report, and the big news — that homicides and violent crime continued their two-year surge — seemed not to pique much interest in the mainstream media. To be sure, the television stations, where crime news is a staple, and the Virginia Mercury did give the report perfunctory notice, so give those outlets some credit. But the majors — The Washington Post, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Virginian-Pilot, and Virginia Public Media — ignored it altogether.

Here is the data released yesterday that Virginia’s organs of “social justice” propaganda have not deemed important enough for same-day coverage:

  • 562 homicides were reported in 2021, up from 528 the previous year, and 428 the year before that.
  • 17,993 violent crimes of all types were reported in 2021, up from 16,823 the previous year, and 15,713 the year before that.

Virginia, like the nation, is in the grip of a violent crime wave, even as changes in laws and law-enforcement policy have cut the number of drug-related arrests by half over two years. Remarkably, despite the media’s obsession with finding racial disparities in all walks of life, no outlet — not one — has taken note of the disparities in the race of the assault and homicide victims. Continue reading

Colin Greene and the Emergence of Richmond’s Deep State

by James A. Bacon

Colin Greene is still state health commissioner, but I’m predicting he’ll have to pull a Ralph Northam in order to last in his position. After he dared  to express skepticism that “structural racism” is a useful explanation for racial health disparities, the left is eager to take him out. Even issuing abject apologies and embracing leftist nostrums about health care may not suffice to save him. Defenestrating Greene would kneecap Governor Glenn Youngkin, who has so far managed to survive the assaults on his administration unscathed.

We can see how the game is being played in a story published yesterday by the voice of Virginia’s cultural elites: Virginia Public Media, the foundation-supported arm of taxpayer-subsidized National Public Radio.

Greene, VPM reports, has asked “at least two employees” to provide medical documentation to support requests to continue working remotely over the coming year. While VPM concedes that it is “not unusual” for employers to review such records, the employees affected said they expected to turn over their paperwork to the HR department, not to Greene. They “expressed concerns” over who would have access to the documents and how the information would be stored.

Oh, the horror!

There is zero evidence that Greene has done anything wrong, but two disgruntled employees fear that he might do something wrong. Somehow, this concern warranted a journalistic deep dive. Continue reading

Bacon Bits: It’s Come to This

As long as you’re here, would you like to check out a book? With public libraries struggling for relevance in a world in which  anyone can buy a book online, the Arlington Public Library has found a new role to play in the community: dispensing Naloxone (Narcan), a nasal spray that counters opioid overdoes. Deaths from drug overdoses have topped 100,000 annually, and, apparently, Arlington County is not exempt from the scourge. Arlington official Deborah Warren tells WTOP News: “Getting NARCAN into Arlington libraries means that lifesaving resources are more readily available in the event that someone is experiencing an overdose.”

I wonder what Martin Luther King would say about that. A local Republican in Abingdon has opened a store called Mountain Patriots. According to WCYB News, the store will sell pro-Trump, pro-military, and Christian-themed merchandise — and double as the Republican Party headquarters for Washington County. Local Democrats have protested the store opening. “When you conflate religion with politics, there is never a moment that our democracy is more vulnerable than at that point,” Washington County, Virginia Democratic Committee Chair Susan Stancill said. “That’s what our Founding Fathers understood. That’s what is enshrined in the First Amendment.” Er… perhaps someone should remind Stancill that MLK was a Baptist pastor and that the Civil Rights movement in the South was one big conflation of religion and politics. The First Amendment protects people from the state, not the state from the people. Continue reading

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