Those of you who have been following the commentary in Blue Louisa from members of the Culpeper Dems, Mike McClary and Dave Reuther know that their op-ed’s are also printed in the Culpeper Star Exponent.
What you may not know is that up until the tail end of last year, the Star Exponent also printed Dr. Tom Neviaser’s far right batshit crazy screeds. Long story short, after one of the editors questioned the accuracy of his claims, he walked off in a huff.
At least until last month, where he took his act to the Culpeper Times, part of the insidenova chain of local weekly papers. While the screenshot below of last months op-ed is relatively tame compared to his previous rants in the CSE, the quantity of disjointed RW talking points crammed into such a short op-ed is worth noting.
In response, Dave Reuther penned this letter to the editor, which appeared in this week’s issue.
A letter that the Culpeper Times chose to title “Spanberger shouldn’t copy Republican tactics.” Whether their choice represents an attempt to drum up reader interest, or is a ham-fisted to attempt to negate the letters content is immaterial.
What is relevant is that such actions represent one of modern journalism's deadly sins; the promotion of false equivalencies. By reprising Dr. Neviaser’s “As I See It” column, and not challenging his claims before they are printed, the Culpeper Times is effectively giving his serial falsehoods credence.
And there will be at best, a limited response to such deceptive op-eds given most local papers strict word limitations. Something the Central Virginians readers are quite familiar with, where year’s worth of far right syndicated content are seldom commented on.
The danger of such systemic habituation, like a frog in a pot of water slowly brought to a boil, is how effectively it serves to normalize extreme ideas, to where few will even remember why X, Y or Z was such a bad idea to begin with.
Another dubious practice is the reflexive presumption that there are always two sides to any issue, one which assumes that both sides are; A) equally valid and B) are arguing in good faith. Like their coverage of the October Brat/Spanberger debate.
Clearly many of the thing’s Brat said during that debate were; inflammatory, misleading, or flat out lies. Other than pointing out his Tourettes like repetition of Nancy Peloisi, there was little mention of the veracity of his other claims, or Spanberger’s for that matter.
If one didn’t watch a video of the debate, it would have been easy to think that based on what they read, particularly in the smaller local papers, that this debate was accurately reported. When in reality, both the Culpeper Times and the Central Virginian’s coverage of the debate were heavy on the factoids, and light on critical commentary.
A journalistic malpractice which allows disingenuous extremists like Brat, Bryce Reeves, and John McGuire, to say almost anything, without any meaningful response from the local community.
So how comfortable is that warm water feeling now?
Dave Reuther and Jon Taylor
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