Home 2019 Elections Deconstructing the Seriously Flawed WaPo Article on SD31, HD49

Deconstructing the Seriously Flawed WaPo Article on SD31, HD49


As most of us are well aware, the Washington Post’s coverage of Virginia politics isn’t anything to write home about, either in quality or quantity. A case in point as to why I say that is this morning’s article, Two Arlington lawmakers attacked by challengers over ethics. See below for my deconstruction of several of the (numerous) flaws in this story, which by the way is written by a reporter I respect and like…making it all the more frustrating.

“They are among 10 Democrats facing primary opponents from the left flank of a party still energized in opposition to the election of President Trump.”
Actually…no, this is not true, nor is the original article (by Antonio Olivo) the entire false premise is based upon. I deconstructed the Olivo story here, noting that it was “another lazy, sloppy, inaccurate, create-a-(false)-narrative article.” I also pointed out then, and will point out again today, that “Alfonso Lopez, who last year was ranked by VAPLAN as THE MOST PROGRESSIVE member of the Virginia House of Delegates, and this year as the 5th-most progressive member. Yet somehow he’s being challenged from the “left?” How’s that?

As for Barbara Favola, her challenger has specifically stated that she is *not* challenging Favola from the “left.” Instead, if you actually take a few minutes and look at Nicole Merlene’s website – or attend her kickoff event/ACDC announcement, as I did, or sit down with her for a couple hours, as I did – you’ll see that her main critique of Favola is on ETHICS, which last I checked is not a left-right issue. Merlene’s also running as someone who has been involved in “organizing support for local small business permit approvals, to helping plan community engagement processes for feedback on policy proposals, to planning transportation patterns in my neighborhood, my roots are firmly intertwined in the community and I would be a true servant to the residents of the district.” Does any of that sound like a challenge to Favola – who, by the way, ranks at the 8th most progressive State Senator, according to VAPLAN – from the “left” to you?” Nope!

“Favola’s consulting work, with clients including Marymount University, Virginia Hospital Center and others, also draws Merlene’s criticism. Her company’s website highlights Favola’s elected positions, Merlene notes, and Favola has appeared on behalf of clients before a handful of local organizations and planning boards in Northern Virginia. Favola said she does not lobby in Richmond or to any state entities.”
It drives me crazy when the media does this…presents “both sides,” but doesn’t do the work investigating to find out what the actual answer is – or if it’s more “grey” or whatever. Reading this, how is someone supposed to know whether they should be concerned – or not – about what Merlene is charging about Favola and her clients? Got me.

“Merlene’s attacks on Favola got under the veteran lawmaker’s skin enough so that she warned the audience at a May 1 appearance to not be attracted by ‘a new flavor . . . that is tantalizing.’ Critics on local blogs called the statement sexist, and within days Favola publicly apologized.”
That “local blogs” comment is kind of odd, as most of the criticism towards Favola seems to have been from the Merlene campaign and Favola’s fellow elected officials. As for the “local blogs” (not even sure which “local blogs” that’s referring to), most of the discussion I saw regarding Favola’s “new flavor” attack seemed to be on Facebook and Twitter, also on ArlNow, which isn’t really a “blog.”

“[Del. Alfonso Lopez] was criticized in 2017 by the group La ColectiVA for his work with the detention center in Farmville, Va. Lopez said in an interview that his legal consulting firm was brought in during the Obama administration to help improve conditions at the facility…La ColectiVA seems to have moved on; its Facebook page now focuses on fighting Amazon’s arrival and on different immigration issues. But Spain, 46, a Marine veteran and a federal contractor, said in an interview he would like to know why Lopez ‘never came forth and talked’ publicly about that work.”
This is pretty convoluted. So basically, the article feels the need to discuss this issue, even though it says La ColectiVA “seems to have moved on” (is that true?), and even though Lopez’s challenger (J.D. Spain) hasn’t really raised this as an issue during debates, etc. Is the Washington Post trying to create some controversy here where none necessarily exists? Hard to say, but it does feel like they’re attempting to create some sort of narrative and shoehorn stuff in to make that narrative work.

Spain also accused Lopez of not taking a strong enough stand against Gov. Ralph Northam (D) this winter when a racist photo in Northam’s yearbook surfaced and he acknowledged wearing blackface decades ago when he dressed as Michael Jackson. Lopez, who called for Northam to resign, said there is little else a lawmaker can do under Virginia law. Spain, whose policy positions closely match Lopez’s, has not questioned the incumbent lawmaker about either issue at any of the forums they have attended; in the interview, he said he may do so ‘in due time.'”
First off, the Washington Post really seems to feel the need to mention Ralph Northam’s “blackface” scandal every time they write about Virginia Democrats, even if it’s a complete or near-complete non-issue in whatever campaign they’re writing about. Also, the article states that Del. Lopez’s opponent hasn’t raised either Northam or the ICA issue, yet the article feels the need to raise both. Why? Sure seems like an attempt at creating a narrative, where none exists in the actual campaign. And again, how does any of this indicate that we’re seeing more evidence in this race, or in the Favola vs. Merlene race, of challenges to incumbent Democrats – even ones who are solidly liberal – from their “left?” Got me.

Bottom line: I’m not seeing how articles like this are helpful or informative, but I *am* seeing attempts by the corporate media at creating the narrative they’d like to see, exaggerating intra-Democratic divisions, and trying to generate some excitement/interest in these races, all without investigating what’s actually true. Not a fan.


Sign up for the Blue Virginia weekly newsletter

Previous articleAnalysis of Two Key 2019 Virginia Races: HD40 and SD8
Next articleTransphobic Arlington Parents Group Sends Letter to Arlington Public School Staff