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Sunday, February 03 2019

As the snowball of condemnation began to grow larger and larger as it cascaded down the Virginia mountainside, bearing down on the Governor’s mansion last weekend, I was curious how the “Facts First” network (that would be CNN) would be covering the story.

Just as a reminder, this is the same “Facts First” network that held panel discussions and breaking news chyrons over every new development in the “Brett Kavanaugh likes beer” saga a couple months ago.  The same “Facts First” network that went crazy in dragging Catholic high school kids before they had, well, any facts at all. 

Clearly they had learned their lesson and were being overly cautious – you could even argue downright skeptical – of all implications that the Democrat Governor of Virginia who had recently refused to apologize for musing publicly about infanticide might have a yearbook scandal brewing. 

Certainly it was just CNN’s effort to do their due diligence and not any ideological loyalty to the subject that kept them from taking the lead on digging through Governor Northam’s yearbook themselves.  It’s not like they’d spent any time scouring the pages of any other notable public figure’s yearbook in recent months.  Ahem.

Behold how CNN’s Oliver Darcy handled the Virginia-Pilot scoop on Governor Northam’s blackface/Klan scandal:

“Virginia Pilot now has the story, which first appeared in Big League Politics, the site run by former Breitbart writer Patrick Howley.”

A not-so-subtle attempt to diminish the trustworthiness of the story, framing it as a smear that originated on a low-rent blog run by a political hack from the scourge of sophisticated media types, Breitbart. 

But isn’t “Facts First” journalism supposed to care about, well, facts?  Does it matter where the story originated, or whether a Breitbart alum scooped other news operations if, in fact, it was Northam in the picture?

And actually, isn’t this a rather sad admission that a news organization with the resources and manpower of CNN couldn’t dispatch some investigative journalists to track down the origin of the photograph, obtain a copy of the yearbook, and take the lead before some two-bit operation like Big League Politics scooped them?

Unsurprisingly, as the ugly truth emerged out of Virginia late Friday night, Darcy’s Twitter feed merely retweeted Northam’s statement while filling up the timeline by a 5-to-1 margin with other news like the Super Bowl, and a tweet about Tom Hanks narrating a Washington Post ad about, of all things, the importance of newsgathering.

Seems like maybe the Post should have gotten the Breitbart guy to narrate the ad, no?

Posted by: Peter Heck AT 06:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email