From Desegregation To Disinformation: The Decline Of The Virginian-Pilot
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 See also: Discoloring The News, by “The Fifth Columnist”

As a local newsman, I have been particularly interested in the Virginian-Pilot’s now-notorious attempt to suppress the story of a black mob’s beating two members of its own staff, Dave Forster and Marjon Rostami.

As I argued here almost exactly three years ago, this sort of thing usually arises from the characteristic culture of the American newsroom. No marching orders to manipulate facts need be given. The newsroom worldview literally inoculates reporters and editors against ideas that might cause them to question the typical Main Stream Media narrative.

But I now must add this proviso: While the leftist worldview  drives  most news coverage in concept, and most reporters and editors do not consciously insert bias into most stories, in some cases, by omission or commission, they flat out lie.

Nothing else explains what occurred, for instance, in NBC’s editing of the audio tapes of George Zimmerman’s call to police the night he shot Trayvon Martin in self defense.

And nothing else explains why the Pilot buried the story.

Thus, for example the Pilot’s Editor, Denis Finley (email him), said in his memo to the staff trying to explain away his behavior:

Based on the facts, this story did not cross the bar to be published because as a general rule, The Pilot doesn't publish stories about simple assaults. ...

We have done our due diligence with the story. We have checked the police reports. I have read them. We have checked to see whether there is an inordinate amount of crime in the neighborhood where the attack happened. There is not.

 Pilot stands by handling of attack on staff members May 3, 2012

But the comment thread on Finley’s showed that his readers knew perfectly well that Finley was lying and had no difficulty proving it. One commenter noted that the newspaper’s job was to find out whether it was a “simple assault” and whether it was a racial attack. [Do your job! Submitted by JayDough May 9, 2012] Another exploded that Finley’s claim about the neighborhood:

“From's story about the incident, ‘, using data from, looked into how many crimes are reported in the area of the April 14 assault. A report for the week of April 8 until April 14 shows 49 crimes were reported within a one mile radius of the reported assault.’”[Disappointing Editor Submitted by ozzy4sure on May 4, 2012]


Anyone who has worked in a newsroom knows that a mob beating of any two people, reporters or not, is news. Had a group of whites attacked two black reporters leaving an all-white “enclave,” as the media like to describe white neighborhoods, you can bet the story would have been on the front page. The Pilot would have been beside itself with rage.

That leaves the question of why an editorial writer broke the news in an opinion column. [A beating at Church and Brambleton,  By Michelle Washington, The Virginian-Pilot,  May 1, 2012] My guess: after holding the story for two weeks, the newspaper couldn’t report the attack as news. And perhaps the news staff, knowing the attack was no “simple assault,” rebelled against the newspaper’s editorial bureaucrats. Yet if what Finley claimed was true—that the crime was not racial and really was a simple assault—then he is left with the problem explain why he permitted a columnist to write about it at all.

Given the Virginian-Pilot’s history, a lie on behalf of the city’s angry black majority would be no surprise. The longtime owner of the paper, Frank Batten Sr., was a staunch desegregationist at a time when such an editorial position was quite unpopular in Virginia. It won a Pulitzer Prize  for its editorials on the subject.

Batten created a media empire that turned into Landmark Media Enterprises. He founded The Weather Channel.

But don’t expect the Pilot to report on the black storm raging across America in such fronts as the knock-down game, Polar bear hunting, and flash mobs, all of which involve a beating at best or a murder at worst.

The Virginian Pilot’s editorial about this scandal said the crime means “Norfolk needs a civil conversation.” After several paragraphs uncivilly suggesting that readers unhappy with the coverage are racists, it concluded that no one really knows what happened or motivated the crimes and then sallied forth with this idiocy: “Race doesn’t define us. It doesn’t define who we are.”

Tell that to Al or Jesse and those, like Spike Lee, who wanted George Zimmerman strung up from a lamppost without a trial.

Many years ago, the late newsmen Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace declared that they would not, in covering a war, alert American GIs to an enemy ambush. They were reporters first, they said, and Americans second.  

One wonders if their contemporary counterparts would warn an elderly white couple if a black flash mob was about to attack.  

We already know they wouldn’t report it.

Robert de Brus [Email him] is a newspaper editor somewhere in America. His last article discussed the Main Stream Media stampede to implicate “right-wingers” in the hanging of a Census Bureau bureaucrat who, it turned out, committed suicide.

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