False Equivalencies and Authoritarian Narratives

As much as I’ve been ragging about Louisa’s only paper of record, the Central Virginian of late, their brand of biased journalism doesn’t even put them in the running for being the worse offender in the region. That distinction goes to the Buffet chain’s flagship , the Richmond Times Disgrace, whose penchant for journalistic malpractice, is only exceeded by their unapologetic promotion of the worst ideas and politicians you can imagine.

And perhaps because they have much wider circulation than smaller papers and their biased stories and op-ed’s are read by more people, that the omission’s and skewed slant of local papers like the CV often goes unnoticed.  And even when these local papers do print stories of vital interest, their readers often respond with the sounds of silence.

I recall the CV in one of their rare editorials complaining about how few people bothered to show up to a Candidate Forum they sponsored. Hopefully, they have learned something from this experience and will be promoting this year’s forum hosted by the League of Women Voters.

So far, the first notices of this “event” are on the two candidates FB pages.  How successful the CV and the hosts will be in drawing people to this forum remains to be seen.  Or if it will be another dog and pony show, like the Chamber of Commerce sponsored 56th House Delegates one last May was.

And it is precisely this kind of information which consistently gets lost; not only in their coverage of local stories, but in a palatable lack of any meaningful commentary about issues affecting the community. Like their coverage of what happened in Charlottesville earlier this month, where they ran a front page article about the Louisa man who was arrested, along with several related Facebook posts.

Yet, their FB version was markedly different from their printed story, where they downplayed the fact that people were severely injured in this march, or that someone was killed until several days had passed. And in keeping with their minimalistic brand of journalism they reposted this syndicated article on their FB page two days later.

Perhaps thinking that since more people appear to be following  their FB posts than the actual paper, that nobody would notice just how  much their rehashed “10 things you should know” link  was promoting that false equivalency that both sides were  somehow “equally” responsible for what happened.

And until they posted another syndicated link up on their FB page about a memorial service for Heather Heyer several days later, they danced around even acknowledging that someone was killed.

But when it comes to avoiding talking about what happened in Charlottesville, and what it means, the CV’s is doubling down on the Drumpf’s and indeed the entire Replicant party’s belligerent deflections and false equivalencies, starting with this op-ed cartoon in their August 24th edition.

And should be pointed out that the CV’s heavy reliance on secondary sources is probably why they missed certain details in their August 17th front page story about  a Louisa resident who was arrested for allegedly punching a reporter and who was supposedly “seen on video waving an antifascist flag.”

Perhaps he was, but after being unable to find that video on the internet, I contacted David Holtzman of the CV about his story, and he said there was a video.  I asked him if he could send me a copy of that video, and left that conversation with the distinct impression that he would be sending it to me shortly.

And after asking what the hold up was, I received the following email message, “I’m sorry if I gave you that impression. I didn’t mean to. I cannot send you the video,” with no explanation of why.

It should also be noted that during that conversation, I asked if he had reached out to Mr. Smith to see what he had to say, and he said that he hadn’t.  I also asked if he had looked at Mr. Smith’s social media profile to get some idea what he was all about.

Especially since even a cursory glance at his FB page shows no support for any of the groups, left or right, or would indicate that he has any ideology whatsoever. Bringing up the question of why he was even there, and what made him react like that?

To find out, I contacted Mr. Smith, who claims that he no longer lives in Louisa, and that he’s been living in Charlottesville for quite some time. And given his guarded responses, it remains to be seen these preliminary conversations culminate in an interview.

But when it comes to reinforcing false narratives, the CV is hardly the county’s guiltiest party. Since most of their readers comments about their FB version of this story were with rare exceptions along the lines of “what an embarrassment to Louisa.”  And while such  judgmental opinions have long been one of the consequences of an unengaged and incurious citizenry.

That same lack of perspective goes a long way towards explaining why those Facebook comments about Charlottesville were dwarfed by an avalanche of gossipy remarks about someone’s cremains being found in a Mineral restaurant.

But when it comes to promoting false narratives about the implications of what happened in Charlottesville, no one does it better than the Virginia Republican Party, headed by John “Anti-Semitic Joke Dude” Whitbeck.  And who from all appearances are prepared to say anything in an effort to manufacture support for overt racism and hatred of others.  And make no mistake, this is just a taste of things to come.


Whether their limp wristed retraction several hours later was in response to the twitter storm which followed, or this pithy reply from Ralph Northam, we’ll probably never know.

Meanwhile, here’s a clip of  “Enron Ed” Gillespie at an AFP function claiming with a straight face that on a 1-10 scale, white supremacists/neo-Nazis are “yellow”:

So if you’re tired of seeing week after week of false equivalencies and distractive narratives like this being promoted by your local paper.

Take the time write them a letter to the editor, and give them a piece of your mind.

Jon Taylor

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