If you’ve read Blue Virginia for any length of time, you probably are aware that I haven’t exactly been a big fan of the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial board. Go back and check out their frequently hard-right, sometimes just plain off-the-deep-end, editorial slant, and you’ll understand why I jokingly refer to them as the “Republican Times-Disgrace.” The main man over there has been Bart Hinkle, who the RTD reported a few minutes ago will be heading over to…
Bart Hinkle, now the Editor of the Editorial Pages, has accepted a writing role at Dominion Energy, the state’s largest utility.
His last day at the Richmond Times-Dispatch will be Friday, June 15.
OK, so this is pretty much both beyond parody and also exactly what you’d expect in Dominion Energy-dominated Virginia. Not to say that Hinkle won’t be a great fit at Dominion, given some of the pro-Dominion columns he’s churned out over the years. For instance, check out the following pro-Dominion shilling and anti-environmental/pro-fossil-fuel spewing:
- Editorial: Another billionaire squares off against Dominion (“Dominion’s critics seem to want to have things both ways: If the company makes a political donation, that corrupts the political process — but if environmental groups make a political donation, that doesn’t. Convenient, but false. If the company’s donations are a stain on Virginia democracy, the same goes for donations by Dominion’s foes.”)
- Editorial: These environmental groups outspend Dominion (“…if Dominion’s donations to political coffers deserve skeptical scrutiny, then so do donations from its antagonists.”)
- Editorial: New ‘Dominion Bill’ represents a step forward (“The looming threat of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan raised the specter of immense regulatory costs that otherwise could have been passed on to consumers — a point critics of Dominion never bother to acknowledge, just as they never acknowledge the company’s many obligations under state law, which are at least as numerous as its privileges.”)
- Editorial: Time to move forward on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (“The ACP is one of the most thoroughly scrutinized projects in Virginia memory. No reasonable rationale to deny it approval has surfaced, and federal failure to give it the go-ahead would deal a serious blow to any hope for future energy projects in the commonwealth. We urge FERC, the DEQ, and the other relevant agencies to act swiftly so the ACP — and Virginia — can finally move forward.”)
- Editorial: Timely death of the Clean Power Plan will help the environment and the economy (“The Trump administration’s apparent decision to dump Barack Obama’s so-called Clean Power Plan is a triumph for the rule of law, the Constitution, the U.S. economy, American workers, good science, and the environment”)
So yeah, Hinkle will fit in very well at Dominion Energy, no doubt about it. Which says more about Dominion Energy than anything else…none of it good.
By the way, before I get to Hinkle’s replacement, I’d note that his departure is just the latest in a long line of reporters and/or editors leaving Virginia’s seriously hurtin’ corporate media for “greener” pastures. Just a few weeks ago, for instance, (now-former) RTD reporter Robert Zullo announced that he had “left the Times-Dispatch for an editor opportunity at a new nonprofit news start-up here in Richmond focused on state government and policy.” Also recently, the Virginian-Pilot was sold to “Tronc,” which almost certainly means departures coming there. Also in recent years, the Virginia political press corps has lost a massive amount of institutional knowledge with the departures of folks like Bob Lewis from the AP (to McGuireWoods), Julian Walker from the Virginian-Pilot (to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association), Michael Sluss from the Roanoke Times (also to McGuireWoods), etc, etc. All part of what the Washington Post in 2014 called the “precipitous decline of state political coverage.” Sad. And more to the point, bad for the health of our democracy.
Now, regarding the replacement for Bart Hinkle at the RTD, Bob Rayner, I’m told that if anything, he’s even more conservative than Hinkle. For a sampling of Rayner’s ouevre, see:
- Bob Rayner: Mike Pence is Donald Trump’s voice of reason (“… the politician Pence most calls to mind is: Tim Kaine. The two men possess obvious intelligence, a deep command of issues, an appealing and self-deprecating sense of humor, a quick smile, and a demeanor that might best be described as affably presidential.”)
- Bob Rayner: Dawning of Age of Trump could let sunshine In
- Bob Rayner: A quick guide to understanding President Trump (“He frequently talks like an old-style Borscht Belt stand-up comic. Think Henny Youngman, Jackie Mason, Rodney Dangerfield. So Trump is infinitely more entertaining than his pompous predecessor. This, too, is an improvement for the country – and a source of endless consternation for Beltway news media people, who don’t do comedy. At least not serious comedy.”)
So…yeah, I think I’m going to be able to keep my “Republican Times-Disgrace” nickname for the time being, but we’ll see how it goes.
P.S. Under Hinkle/Rayner, the RTD endorsed George Allen for U.S. Senate over Tim Kaine in 2012; Ed Gillespie for Governor in 2017, lots and lots of Republicans for the General Assembly, the following candidates for president over the past 36 years (Reagan, Reagan, HW Bush, HW Bush, Dole, Dubya, Dubya, McCain, Romney). Any further questions?