Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 8:49 pm

Whitewashing; or, How the News & Record foists batshit insane candidates onto the electorate.

Let the record reflect that when I predicted on Facebook that the News & Record would never cover the recent batshit comments of Mark Walker, the 6th Congressional District GOP nominee, I was wrong: The News & Record published an editorial on the subject today.

Let the record also reflect, however, that that editorial bent over backwards to whitewash Walker’s comments and to shield him from the consequences of what he said in a way that is fundamentally inconsistent with the mission of an honest news outlet.

Walker said at a campaign event in June that the U.S. should launch a war against Mexico to ensure its border security, saying that “we did it before. If we need to do it again, I don’t have a qualm about it.”

First, the editorial tried to pretend that what happened didn’t happen, claiming, on the basis of zero evidence, “It’s reassuring that Republican 6th District congressional candidate Mark Walker does not want the United States to launch a war against Mexico.” The paper apparently, and inexplicably, is willing to accept at face value Walker’s claim that his comment was “tongue in cheek.”

Then, just in case that whitewash didn’t work, the N&R did what the lawyers call arguing in the alternative, saying that it wasn’t necessarily a joke but was merely pandering, a case of Walker saying something he didn’t believe in order to curry favor with, to be kind, low-information voters. Again, in point of fact, there’s no evidence in the record that Walker was saying something he didn’t believe.

Indeed, what little evidence there is inclines a fair-minded person toward thinking that Walker said exactly what he believed.

He also, as the editorial pointed out, has said that President Obama should be impeached and that Obama might declare martial law and sharia law to keep himself in office after the 2016 elections. Once again, the N&R took the position that Walker was saying things he didn’t believe, in the face of zero evidence that that was in fact the case.

The paper said that the controversy arose after video of Walker’s comments was posted to a “left-wing website,” as if the remarks weren’t controversial, and newsworthy, in and of themselves. (Indeed, where was the N&R when the remarks originally were uttered?)

And it noted that Walker’s Democratic opponent, Laura Fjeld, has called Walker “crazy” but, again, in the face of exactly zero evidence, concluded that that can’t be true.

The kindest thing that can be said about the N&R’s approach to this issue is that it is allowing the GOP to benefit from the soft bigotry of low expectations. What’s closer to the truth, I think, is that the N&R knows good and goddamn well that Walker is crazy but has decided to ignore the fact out of fears of being labeled “liberal.”

Well, welcome to the real world, guys: Republicans are going to call you liberal no matter what you say, so  you might as well speak the truth. And the likeliest truth in this case is that Walker meant every damn word he said.

Does Walker really think, after what happened to George Allen in the Virginia senate race a few years back, that his remarks won’t be videotaped and distributed? And does he really think he can just call something “tongue-in-cheek” and not be held further responsible for it?

No, the likelier explanation is that Walker meant every word he said, and the only sane conclusion that can be drawn from that fact is that the nominee of one of the two major parties for the 6th District seat in the U.S. House is crazier than a bag of bugs. If the N&R won’t say it, I damned well will and dare Walker to prove otherwise. The News & Record was wrong and Laura Fjeld was right.

And what the News & Record appears utterly ignorant of is that not just Walker but also dozens, if not hundreds, of GOP candidates for office, from president down to county commissioner and city council, have uttered stuff just as batshit insane as what Walker said, and in many cases worse. The News & Record seems oblivious to the fact that one of our two major parties has succumbed to a virus of unadulterated batshit insanity and appears unwilling to hold the party as a whole or its individual candidates accountable for their feverish words.

I shouldn’t have to tell a building full of writers this, but words have meaning. The default response to a political candidate’s comments ought to be to assume that he/she means exactly what he/she said. If a candidate can’t speak extemporaneously (or, worse, from prepared notes) without later having to repeatedly claim that he/she was “speaking tongue-in-cheek,” then that candidate isn’t fit for elected office at any level.

And if the News & Record had the balls God gave a billy goat, it would say so.



  1. Phony balance in action. N&R is afraid to speak its mind. Jay Rosen would be proud of you.

    Comment by Ed Cone — Tuesday, September 23, 2014 9:08 pm @ 9:08 pm

    • I don’t think they’re afraid to speak their mind; I think they really believe this crap. But thanks.

      Comment by Lex — Tuesday, September 23, 2014 9:28 pm @ 9:28 pm

  2. Friend speaks my mind.

    Comment by Janet Wright — Wednesday, September 24, 2014 11:28 am @ 11:28 am

  3. A third theory, they are neither afraid to speak their mind nor do they believe the crap.. I think they have low standards that do not have them taking as hard a look as you do — no interest in considering how their assessments stack up to the facts. It’s a theme common to a lot of their editorials (not all, but plenty) and, since it involves the same people year after year, one can only assume they have no interest in raising the bar. This, however objectionable, they view as not a problem.

    And don’t we see this bleeding over into their letters? It doesn’t really matter too much if the assertions of an opinion piece align with or are supportable by the facts. They permit unfounded assertions of fact in their editorials and in the letters they publish. It’s the same mindset. That’s what they do. If they wanted to stop, they would.

    Comment by Roch — Wednesday, September 24, 2014 12:19 pm @ 12:19 pm

  4. Ed, do you get a royalty any time a GSO blogger uses “batshit” as an adjective?

    Comment by john hayes — Thursday, September 25, 2014 10:31 am @ 10:31 am

  5. John, I don’t need Ed’s help to call batshit batshit. ;-)

    Comment by Lex — Thursday, September 25, 2014 11:38 am @ 11:38 am

  6. It is a term with rich history (eg and while I make no claim on it I do enjoy seeing it used well.

    Comment by Ed Cone — Thursday, September 25, 2014 4:51 pm @ 4:51 pm

  7. […] I took the News & Record to task for normalizing the grossly abnormal candidacy of Mark Walker for the 6th Congressional District […]

    Pingback by The News & Record and batshit Mark Walker, redux | Blog on the Run: Reloaded — Sunday, September 28, 2014 12:55 pm @ 12:55 pm

  8. […] daily at which I toiled for 22 years — to task for, in Pat Moynihan’s deathless phrase, defining deviancy down among Republican political candidates. This is a theme I have written about numerous times, though usually with respect to national […]

    Pingback by The U.S. media normalize batshit. They have done so for years. And The Washington Post finally notices. Hallelujah. | Blog on the Run: Reloaded — Monday, October 13, 2014 9:12 pm @ 9:12 pm

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