Enough. This Partisan Bias Is Just Too Obvious.

Ain’t This A Kick

Look, we conservatives understand that as far as the media is concerned, we are second-class citizens.  But for giggles let’s just demonstrate the most recent case.  When I write about the new hemp bill on Bacon’s Rebellion last month, it gets good readership for Bacon’s Rebellion but of course there is no reference to it on the widely-circulated daily news summary for the Virginia Public Access Project.

Today Virginia Mercury publishes a very similar story, even using some of the same sources, and of course it makes the VPAP summary.  Oh, give me a break.   Why didn’t mine get used, again?  

There is no possible explanation for this except partisan bias.  None.  If you think the folks at Virginia Mercury are more fair, better reporters than me and Jim Bacon, that is simple bias on your part.  Jim and I, when we set out to write a news story from a news angle, can do so just fine (my first paid bylines were 47 years ago).  And we both have high regard for facts and balance (as do the folks at Virginia Mercury in their news).  Yes, Bacon’s Rebellion has a point of view but so does Virginia Mercury.  Bacon and I were clearly marking our news and commentary efforts, and VPAP was using our news output for a while, and then it stopped.

The beginning of April marks the beginning of Year Two for me as a standing contributor to this on-line journal, having been an occasional contributor and constant comment-poster pretty much since it started.  Virginia Mercury is doing what we are doing and the disparate treatment by VPAP (which I have also supported since its founding) is flat wrong.  On issue of taxes, energy regulation, and a dozen other matters one side is getting favorable treatment.

Once you follow that hemp story link to Virginia Mercury, you will find all the partisan commentary in other stories you can imagine.  There is Ivy Main’s very different take than mine on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and I read her all the time.  There is no difference between the two journals except one – we’re more likely to be conservative, they’re liberals.

This is the point.  By promoting their news copy, VPAP drives people there to that outlet for more.  By ignoring our news copy, fewer people may be led to spend more time with our output.  This matters.   There is a “why” to this complaint.

This has turned out to be harder work than I anticipated, with more than 180 stories in that year.  But on energy and tax issues in particular I think my reporting and commentary have filled a gap.  Then simply being at the General Assembly day to day with no clients to tend to meant I saw and wrote about other stories being missed, mainly because there are so few reporters compared to when I started in the mid 1980s.  It was gratifying to see some stories then copied by others, like this one by Virginia Mercury, and then picked up up on VPAP.  Another good example was the story about surrogacy contracts.

But as bona fide news they should have made it to VPAP the first time around.   If I knew they were eligible to, I’d work harder to get them in a news format.  If you agree this is unfair, don’t tell me, tell you know who ([email protected])

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22 responses to “Enough. This Partisan Bias Is Just Too Obvious.

  1. I publish this and then check email and here is this from VPAP, soliciting money. “Of course you don’t want your own personal echo chamber. As a VaNews reader, you value original news reporting that presents more than one perspective. You are curious — you are not threatened by commentary from those who you don’t always agree with.” Exactly Poole, my friend, and still my friend…:)

    • Steve:

      Those who go against the flow in order to find truth are always the outsiders of their time because the present always runs from the truth of its times. We see that iron rule at play in the status quo of all societies. Thus we see it in almost every important written article on Bacon’s Rebellion. Every one challenges the status quo, uncovering facts, acts, or attitudes otherwise hidden. Because the truth of things under the surface driving things visible are almost always hidden. So to that degree, the truth teller will surely be outcast. Its a badge of achievement. That is why the Washington Post has so few, if any, outcast reporters.

      Yet, there is good news. Paradoxically, the outcast, if effective, is having an impact far greater than he or she might realize. They are more often read by people who really count, people willing and able to see things clearly, even it they very uncomfortable. And they change things as a result, however slowly, and tentatively that may be, but change aggregates in new reality.

      For example, UVA still reports the rankings of its departments. But now it qualifies those reports, claiming that UVA does not judge itself by those rankings. Do you believe that? Whatever, you believe, UVA is being forced to change. That did not happen in a vacuum, or by reason of the Washington Post.

  2. There IS something going on but I’m not sure it’s liberal versus conservative because VPAP also takes content from RTD which is not exactly a liberal rag!

    But I do think some posts on BR tend to be racially-tinged and I’m wondering if that is involved in the VPAP determination. Would black folks who like VPAP – like what they read in BR? Does the content on BR reflect on VPAP’s reputation?

    In the age of internet – we are finding out that non-govt entities do have the right to determine what content they will accept from others. Both Twitter and Facebook now have (still evolving) standards of what they will allow or not.

    And yes, they are being accused of having a “liberal” bias but again they are not govt platforms.

    So a question, what prevents Conservatives from putting up their own platforms? Why do they insist that the current platforms filter content according to their likes and dislikes?

    You know the whole mainstream media thing… Conservatives are more than free to participate in that “market” and put up their own offerings and compete. Why not? Quit the bellyaching… jeeze !!!

    • Almost every post I make on the subject of race is in direct response to an article about race in one one or more Virginia newspapers or a study about race issued by an advocacy group. I didn’t start the obsession with race, I respond to it.

      • I know you see BR as a counter-balance to the left media but I think it’s a bit too far at times with rhetoric that is more emblematic of blogs than news media. For instance, the use of the phrase “Social Justice Warriors” is not typically used in mainstream media including ones such as RTD or The Washington Examiner or WSJ.

        I think the kefuffle on Autism with the RTD also showed a difference between what is in BR and what the RTD finds acceptable.

        Then I feel the racial stuff goes too far also at times. I don’t see that kind of discourse even in RTD or the Washington Examiner though I admit some of it makes it on FOX.

        I, OBVIOUSLY, do not find these things enough to keep me from reading BR – but others might…

  3. Larry,

    I usually only disagree with 5 or 8 of the things you say in your posts, but here I’ll limit my comments to two.

    “RTD is not a liberal rag” . Perhaps maybe we could standby to find a few conservative viewpoints on the editorial page interspersed with the liberal commentary, but their story selection in the news pages sure is liberal.

    “BR tends to be racially tinged” Seriously? Seriously!!?? Be careful here, Larry. You appear to equate discussion of racial issues with racism. But perhaps I’m wrong and I should give you the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you mean “racially tinged” as simply referring to the discussion itself. Okay. But then you say, “Would black folks who read VPAP -like what they read in BR” Hmmm. Is this a test of racism –“lik[ing] what they read”? Is this a bit different from “racially tinged” ? Or is it the same thing? Or….well…what is it, exactly? Do you want to walk that one back?

    • So.. RTD is “liberal” … and so now I understand !!!

      sorry, won’t walk back the racially tinged. I fee it is at times.

      it feels like some of the commentary is oriented to race… when the issues at hand are not or should not be – that’s my take. You can see that in my comments although as time goes by I just give up on it.

    • re: ” “Would black folks who read VPAP -like what they read in BR” Hmmm. Is this a test of racism –“lik[ing] what they read”

      Well… take the Civil War Monuments. Do you think there is some commentary that black folks would agree with – especially if written by an old white guy?

      here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

      Now what would pass in BR as a balanced commentary that represented the views of blacks and whites? What would be interpreted as commentary biased towards one view?

  4. Just a reminder: The original VPAP rap against Bacon’s Rebellion was that we didn’t clearly distinguish between news and commentary. So, I paid a couple hundred dollars to change the website so we could tag news stories as “news” and then publish the news stories on a separate page, where they could be easily bookmarked and picked by VaNews’ compilers.

    After making that change, the new rap is the fact that Steve and I engage in writing both news and commentary. For some less-than-obvious reason that undermines our credibility as both news reporters and commentators.

    I understand Steve’s frustration because he has done some superb reporting in recent months, getting scoop after scoop after scoop. He’d like to get more readers and more recognition. I don’t blame him one bit.

    Speaking for myself, I’ve largely made my peace with the bias. If conservatives don’t like the way we’re treated, as LarryG says, maybe we ought to create our own media. That’s easier said than done, but there’s some truth to it. There are Republican/conservative/libertarian blogs and talk-radio shows in Virginia. We compete and bicker with one another. That needs to change.

    • The media is a “market”. If you don’t like what’s available, then bring another product to meet that unmet demand!!! That’s exactly what FOX did! And they make no bones about it – it’ almost exclusively “commentary”. If they do real news – they get complaints. 😉

  5. So, one thing that has been suggested is that if Bacon’s Rebellion looked more like Virginia Mercury, with conservative funding instead of liberal funding, with a conservative story selection rather than a liberal story selection, and with reporters who avoided open commentary – that would be fine! Then VPAP would love us! I really think that idea needs to be taken through to its logical conclusion….I think just suggesting that is an admission what is going on with Virginia Mercury, that it is a partisan organ. At the end of the day, where are you likely to see a differing point of view? The Post? Yes. Here on BR? Yes. On VM? Never, never, never….

  6. I have to admit to complaining to VPAP and VM about this issue (and for VM a few others). I like writing that makes me THINK and BR does that more than VM/VPAP.

  7. I don’t read VPAP as much anymore because more than a few of the media links are paywalls and I’m already subscribed (for money) to four and that’s all I can do and I’m tired of running into the RTD paywall.

    But one suggestion. Perhaps as some media does – if you’re writing commentary then label it UP TOP front and center – easily seen – as COMMENTARY – like most media does.

  8. Here’s my take on VPAP from about six years ago:

    https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/my-moment-of-vpap-clarity/

    As noted, VPAP performs a very useful service in tabulating political donations but that’s all part of the game. y going along with seemingly transparent donation reporting, the Dominions,’ Altrias, law firms and so on get to play the game their way . That means no real check on ethics. No independent commission. It’s the Virginia Way.

    It is extremely arrogant of VPAP to presume that it can make a sound judgment on whether Bacons Rebellion is too “partisan” to be included in a daily news wrap. Who pays for VPAP?

    Also, celebrating my 45th years a working journalist I am constantly amazed at what passes for journalism education in Virginia. There are always TWO (count them, only two) sides to every story. Analysis is suspect. Commentary is evil. This is the crap handed down by two bit J-school professors who never got much beyond the middle leagues. When I returned as an editor to Richmond in 2000 after working in Moscow, Washington, New York and Chicago, I was stunned by some of the young reporters I oversaw. They badly needed to be retaught.That’s the idiocacy that seems to y y that seems to prevail at VPAP.

    • And there is no law that says that another group could not do their version of VPAP AND have their own standards and criteria for what they would post on their site?

      Hells Bells..all this bellyaching about the mainstream media and “liberalism”, etc … Got FOX News and Breitbart ? you DO. Get THEM to do what you want and stop complaining about the liberals not doing what you want. jeeze.

    • That was one of your best articles. Frankly, I see VPAP as something of a joke. Dominion makes huge campaign contributions to state politicians with very safe seats. Those politicians skim off some of the money for personal enjoyment and then package, repackage, transfer and launder the money through a variety of PACs. Those PACs donate “Dominion money” to state politicians in less safe seats. How much of the money in the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus originally came from Dominion? For example, Dominion gave Saslaw for Senate $77,500 since the last state senate election in 2015. Saslaw for Senate donated $144,000 to the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus over the same period. The Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus donated $245,000 to the Democratic Party of Virginia over that time. The Democratic Party of Virginia donated $181,282 to Boysko for Senate – Jennifer over that time. Meanwhile, you won’t see any Dominion direct contributions to Boysko for Senate – Jennifer.

      VPAP could create a matrix that allocated the monies coming into Saslaw for Senate, remove what he actually spent on re-election (and sundry meals at Bookbinder’s) then allocate the remainder (by donor) to the monies transferred to PACs and directly to candidates. Eventually that would show Boysko getting funded by Dominion. But VPAP doesn’t do that. Nor does VPAP allow direct access to their data (as far as I can tell) for somebody else to perform this analysis.

      VPAP creates the illusion of accountability without providing real accountability. They are really not much more than a tool of our corrupt General Assembly and the corporate interests who pull the General Assembly’s strings in Richmond.

  9. That is almost as disconcerting as having Larry agree with me…but thanks!

    I just want some of the news stories to be included. There is a work-around on commentary. I get it printed in the Post, RTD or Roanoke Times as an op-ed and Poole then uses it. Done that several times now. My opinion pieces are only verboten if they are on the blog. The absurdity is just obvious. A two-inch Chinese wall…..

    • Yes, VPAP links to commentary but it is labeled as commentary and that’s what I would advocate for BR because… and again, this is opinion , one in fact, it sometimes appears that blog posts in BR are a mixture of “news” and commentary. In fact, I actually expect some measure of commentary in many if not most BR posts – even Steve’s which often have “asides” in them…

      So I’d ask – if you actually did agree to label the posts as Commentary or News – would you change the way you are now writing?

      • Yes, when I was getting “news” stories on VPAP I worked harder at getting other views included, and keeping my own opinions masked (not that I didn’t have them….) As I joked to someone in another discussion of this off line, I’d even start calling Dominion for quotes if the energy stories would get used! In most cases it is the facts I want out and about, not my opinions. But Poole’s “price” as stated again yesterday is I give up writing opinion pieces at all, and that is just BS. Pure BS.

  10. Don,
    I don’t understand your comment about VPAP being “something of a joke.” All the data in your ensuing paragraph came from VPAP. Without VPAP, you (and anyone else) would have to spend hours slogging through the on-line financial reports filed by PACs and political candidates. It is not VPAP’s role to perform the kind of analysis you did on Dominion contributions to Saslaw’s PAC and the connection to Boysko. The problem, of course, is that money is fungible. Once a Dominion dollar goes into a PAC bank account, it loses its identity in any expenses. That is why VPAP should not be in the business of doing that sort of analysis. If it did, it would be subject to accusations of bias by everyone, for different reasons. Its invaluable role is to provide the public ready access to the data it needs to hold its candidates and office holders accountable, if it wants to. As for ready access to the data, you have it on the Department of Elections website.
    That being said, I agree with Steve’s complaint about the VaNews feature of VPAP. It is a very useful feature and has the veneer of nonpartisanship. As such, it should provide access to any recognized journalist, such as Steve and Jim, no matter what platform is being used. I will tell anyone that, in the three months I have been active on BR, I have learned more about taxes and energy regulation than I have in many years of reading newspapers.

  11. VPAP is a wonderful asset for Virginia. I was on the board, served as treasurer, and have been cheering David on from the get go. I wish he could franchise it into other states. Which is why this is more personal than it probably should be.

    But VPAP is very much a part of the Richmond Political Establishment, and if you take the King’s gold you do the King’s bidding. In the case of VPAP, however, 1) you can see where it is coming from and 2) the various competing interests are all supportive, making it hard to push it too far in one direction or the other. But the one thing they all have in common is – they are The Establishment.

  12. Above, Jim Bacon makes the following observation and suggestion.

    “There are Republican/conservative/libertarian blogs and talk-radio shows in Virginia. We compete and bicker with one another. That needs to change.”

    I agree wholeheartedly that “THIS NEEDS TO CHANGE.”

    That crying need for change leads to the next question. How do “the blogs and talk radio shows” convert their competition and bickering into cooperation, and marshal their assets so as to match and then hopefully overwhelm their opponents, given the great vulnerability they have created by their own irresponsible acts?

    Make no doubt about it: These opponents are real and deadly serious. For them, it is their way and the highway for everyone else, a quest for total domination of all who disagree, or just want to be left alone.

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