Handling of Fairfax outburst reveals media inconsistency

Friday, February 8, 2019
Steve Jordahl (OneNewsNow.com)

Justin Fairfax (VA Lt. Gov.)As the Democratic leadership in Virginia continues to implode, a media watchdog is noticing a pronounced bias in media coverage.

Virginia's House Democrats have followed the state's Legislative Black Caucus in not calling for resignations of the lieutenant governor or attorney general after insisting the governor must go. The Democrats' Thursday night statement says they take the issues and allegations facing Virginia's top three elected officials seriously and they'll be taking the pulse of their constituents over the weekend. The stakes couldn't be higher with Democrats in the governor's mansion and Republicans still controlling the legislature: If Gov. Ralph Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring all resign, Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox would be in charge.

As Farifax's world was imploding around him Monday night, several news organizations say they overheard the Democrat in line to take Northam's seat explode in anger and profanity against the woman accusing him of sexual assault. None of the networks reported the obscene outburst – except for a couple that tweeted about it.


Curtis Houck of Media Research Center says mainstream media is showing remarkable restraint. "Typically you would think when multiple people have heard the same thing, the chances of something being true go way up," he tells OneNewsNow.

Of course, what the networks choose to cover – and how they do it – is their editorial right, but Houck says some consistency would be in order. He recalls the media reaction when then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was raked over the coals for displaying anger at the allegations pressed against him. For example:

ABC's Terry Moran: "He roared with anger, unjudicious [sic], raw anger – and then wept, as [ABC journalist] Cokie [Roberts] pointed out."

ABC's Sunny Hostin: "But the tone was all wrong. I thought that he didn't exhibit the temperament of a judge, certainly not of a Supreme Court Justice."

Houck says it should be pointed out that "there were zero reports whatsoever of Brett Kavanaugh saying anything public or private about Dr. [Christine] Ford or Julie Swetnick or [Deborah] Ramirez." All three women had publicly accused the judge of sexual misconduct or improprieties years earlier.

In another related example of media inconsistency, reporters from the New Yorker admitted – after Kavanaugh had been confirmed – that they ran with the accusations against the SCOTUS nominee without any evidence to them up, hoping to show a Kavanaugh pattern of misconduct.

These inconsistencies, particularly in light of the situation in Virginia, cause Houck to wonder what the rules: should a journalist report when an accused is angry at the allegations – or give the accused a pass for even the lowest of attacks on an alleged victim?

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