Home 2019 Elections Grading the 2018 Virginia Newspaper Endorsements: From A+ to F Minus Minus...

Grading the 2018 Virginia Newspaper Endorsements: From A+ to F Minus Minus Minus (Hello RTD!)


With the endorsement this morning by the Virginian-Pilot (or Tim Kaine and Elaine Luria) and of other Virginia newspaper (including the Washington Post for this exercise) editorial boards this weekend, we are now in a position to assess the good, the bad, and the REALLY ugly (hello Republican Times-Disgrace/Richmond Times-Dispatch!) in this year’s crop of endorsements. Since there’s been so much bad news lately, let’s start with the “good”:

  • The Washington Post editorial board’s Virginia endorsements this cycle, unlike in many past cycles, really nailed it.  On Tim Kaine, the Post praised Kaine – correctly – as “upbeat, studious, decent, intellectually nimble and issue-oriented to the point of wonkiness,” while (again, correctly) RIPPING neo-Confederate Corey Stewart as a “disgrace” who has “run a campaign based largely on the politics of resentment, using angry, racially coded appeals, provocations.” You can’t get much clearer than that. A+ grade endorsement.
  • The Washington Post also nailed it, after totally and incomprehensibly screwing it up in 2016, on VA-10, writing that Barbara Comstock’s “promise has turned to dust; on critical issues, she has been a reliable, often unquestioning foot soldier in the president’s ranks of Republican loyalists,” while Jennifer Wexton “would be a breath of fresh air.” A grade endorsement.
  • The Virginian-Pilot editorial page is basically “Chamber of Commerce Republican,” but even they managed to figure out that “Kaine advances policies promoting diversity and inclusion, rather than pushing the politics of division and bringing more anger into the public square” and deserves another term in office over the “bombastic” Corey Stewart. A grade endorsement.
  • The Tronc-owned Daily Press’ editorial page is largely insufferable and rightward leaning, but they do manage to get the U.S. Senate race right, endorsing Sen. Tim Kaine for reelection, citing his ” experience, acumen and temperament” and ripping Corey Stewart’s “bombastic rhetoric concerning immigration, race relations and sexual harassment.” I could have done without the gazillion references to “bridge building” and “bipartisanship,” even as the Republican Party has lurched completely off the far-right deep end. Still, I’ll give this one an A-minus grade.
  • As for VA-02, the Virginian-Pilot falsely claims that teabagger Scott Taylor is “pragmatic,” but nonetheless comes down on the right side, endorsing Democrat Elaine Luria and ripping Taylor for his “involvement in the cynical effort to place Brown on the ballot, his inability to account fully for the behavior of his staff and his lack of understanding of how his decisions raise legitimate questions about judgment and trust is a disqualifying offense.” B-plus grade endorsement.
  • The Virginian-Pilot’s endorsement of Rep. Donald McEachin in VA-04 is the correct one, as is its criticism of Republican Ryan McAdams for his “his refusal to endorse the science of climate change…unacceptable in a district where sea-level rise is an existential threat.” This one gets marked down, however, because of its petty shots at McEachin, who has had serious health problems, for supposedly not adequately “representing Hampton Roads.” So…this one gets a B-minus grade.
  • Even the right-wing Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star editorial page figured out that Tim Kaine is the far superior choice to the odious Corey Stewart. But its reasoning in getting there is kinda what you’d expect from right-wing Republicans, pining for the “nearly-extinct Blue Dog Democrats” and taking a shot at “members of his party’s socialist wing.” Also, not a word about YOUR PARTY’s choice for U.S. Senate? Alrighty then. So…yeah, the Free Lance-Star gets the endorsement decision right, but much else about this editorial is crud. So…I’ll generously give this one a Gentleman’s C grade.
  • As with the right-wing Free Lance-Star, even the Republican Times-Disgrace/Richmond Times-Dispatch, which has endorsed Republicans going back decades (including Jerry Kilgore AND George “Felix Macacawitz” Allen over Tim Kaine in 2005 and in 2012, respectively) managed to stumble on the right choice for U.S. Senate – Tim Kaine, which it correctly calls a “voice of reason” and “natural-born legislator.” This one gets marked down to a Gentleman’s C grade, though, because it fails to take on the toxic rot at the top of the 2018 Virginia GOP ticket – Corey Stewart.
  • I’d also give the RTD a Gentleman’s C grade (and I’m being generous here!) for its endorsement of Rep. Donald McEachin in VA04, but while also praising his hard-right opponent as supposedly being “a different kind of Republican.” Seriously? This is a guy who, after all, on his Issues page, writes that ” lawful gun ownership reduces violent crime and makes communities safer,” that “life begins at conception and that a mother does not have the right to take the life of her child,” and rants about “open borders” (which don’t exist) and “The average illegal immigrant household received over $24,000 in government benefits and services, much of which is a cost borne by the U.S. taxpayer.” Gack.
  • I’ll give the Bristol Herald Courier a D grade for its endorsement of climate-science-denying, fossil-fuel-industry-tool Rep. Morgan Griffith (hard-right R). Why a “D” and not an “F” grade? Only because they have a lot of good things to say about Anthony Flaccavento (D) – his “energy, fresh ideas and the route he’s taken throughout the district in 100 town hall meetings” – and because they get a few good shots in at the abysmal Griffith, such as that he “has done relatively little for 9th District residents” and “voted in ways that would actively harm the district.” Exactly! So then why endorse the guy? According to the Bristol Herald Courier, because…wait for it…”Griffith’s positions align more closely with our readers and the electorate of the 9th District.” Yeah, seriously. So…a D grade, as in “dumb.” Really dumb.
  • Now we start getting into the dregs, with the Republican Times-Disgrace/Richmond Times-Dispatch’s sh*t-for-brains endorsement of Rob Wittman in VA-01. Wittman, who in his spare time likes to go on extremist theocrat EW Jackson’s weekly call, and who is one of the few Virginia Republicans running for the U.S. House this year to publicly endorse neo-Confederate Corey, is actually PRAISED by the RTD editorial page as “the ideal incumbent: skilled and informed, yet unsullied by the cynicism that infects too many of his colleagues.” Beyond ridicule; F Grade endorsement.
  • Then there’s the godawful Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star’s totally messed-up endorsement of Corey Stewart-loving Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA01). You can’t get much more laughable, sycophantic and a**-kissing than claiming the far-right Wittman is ” a perfect ideological fit for his outdoor-loving, Republican-leaning district, he has once again distinguished himself as a skilled legislator and a devoted public servant.” Again, showing its hard-right leanings, the Free Lance-Star actually PRAISES Wittman’s vote for the Republicans’ debt-exploding tax cut for big corporations and rich people, falsely claiming “amped up the U.S. economy and made it the most competitive in the world for the first time in 10 years.” It also parrots right-wing lies about Medicare-for-all, claiming without ANY evidence or factual basis that “voters want a free market solution, not a government takeover of health care.” Finally, I can’t even process through my brain the Free Lance-Star’s laughable claims that Wittman is an “environmental steward” and – wait for it “minority champion” (?????????????).  This brain-dead drivel gets the lowest possible grade, F MINUS MINUS MINUS MINUS?
  • Last but…well, LEAST, we get to the right-wingnut Republican Times-Disgrace/Richmond Times-Dispatch endorsement of extremist nutter Dave Brat for reelection. On this one, I strongly recommend you check out Richmond2Day’s line-by-line demolition of the RTD’s idiocy. The final line kind of says it all: “Richmond Times Dispatch has endorsed racism, xenophobia, misogyny and a continued Republican failure to run a responsible, ethical government.  It has endorsed irresponsibility and needs to get with the times.” Anyway…this is the RTD at its right-wingnutty worst, absolutely appalling, misinforming and lying to its readers…F MINUS MINUS MINUS MINUS MINUS…ugh.

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