Much has been reported, and ignored at the same time, of an incident at the Augusta County Fair last week when a volunteer from the “Democrat” booth made a rude and unacceptable comment. The comment was directed towards Rhonda Winfield who was at a booth supporting the troops and was signing her book about her son, Marine Lance Cpl. Jason Redifer who was killed in action while serving his country in Iraq last year, for fair visitors purchasing the book.
I was in attendance at the time the comment was made when the volunteer from the “Democrat” booth said “Jim Webb is more of an American patriot than this man ever was.” and placed campaign literature for “Democrat” Jim Webb on top of the book that Rhonda was holding…
This story has been told and discussed for the past week or so in the Letter to the Editor section of the NewsVirginian and numerous blogs. The interesting thing is how the story has been reported by the NewsVirginian and comments made by the editor Todd Foster… After the incident I wrote a letter to the editor describing the incident with direct quotes and sources and submitted it to the NewsVirginian. Instead of my letter being printed in the normal format it appeared next to and after a Letter to the Editor from the chairman of the Augusta County Democrat party, Tom Long describing the incident, which he was not present at and providing no direct quotes, sources, or timeline. Foster stated that he did not contact Long but Long’s letter started with: “I am writing only because Mr. Steve Kijak wrote first, attacking Augusta County Democrats. The News Virginian graciously offered an opportunity to respond.” How did Long know of my letter that had not yet been printed? Long’s letter did not provide any direct quotes or sources of information.
I wrote a follow up Letter to the Editor in response to Long’s letter but it could not be published according to Foster due to many other letters from the “Democrats” that were submitted already. http://newsvirginian.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=WNV%2FMGArticle%2FWNV_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1149190132416&path=!news!opinions One letter from a “Democrat” has been printed and that letter provides little facts or sources to what happened at the “Democrat” booth. The letter writer was also not present at the time of the comment at the Republican booth so Facts are limited here also… My response letter appeared today in the “Free for All” section of the NewsVirginian next to the “Reader photo of the week” of a hummingbird, and in a section that includes classified ads and the weather report. This response letter is no way near the “Opinion” section where Letter to the editor letters appear and are expected… Maybe next time it will be near the cooking section?
In contrast the Augusta Free Press has interviewed Rhonda Winfield on the incident for facts and has also contacted me to determine directly what happened. http://www.augustafreepress.com/stories/storyReader$40395 To this date the NewsVirginian has NOT contacted Rhonda for a description of the incident on a firsthand basis.
This post is to note the numerous way a story can be reported and the way “Facts” can be determined and\or ignored. Foster of the NewsVirginian stated that he never “Interviewed” Tichenor but called him just to determine that he was the person who made the comment. But in the NewsVirginian account of the incident the NewsVirginian reported:“Tichenor says he left immediately, but Republicans say he disrespected the mother of fallen Marine Jason Redifer, a Stuarts Draft native who was killed in Iraq. Redifer’s mother, Rhonda Winfield, was at the Republican booth signing copies of her new book, which is about her son. Tichenor allegedly pointed to the book cover and said “that man” [Redifer] wasn’t the hero that Webb was. Webb was Navy secretary under President Reagan and crossed party lines to run against Allen.”
Foster stated that he only determined that Tichenor was the person involved. But here he reports that “Tichenor says he left immediately”. The NewsVirginian also provided more information about Tichenor in their report stating: “Local Republicans ought to understand, too, that Tichenor will be 88 years old on Sept. 1. The retired DuPont chief chemist is a Ph.D. and Rhodes Scholar. On Thursday night, he was clearly confused.” Pretty good amount of information provided by Foster just asking if Tichenor was the person who made the comment as stated in the editor notes that appeared in todays paper following my response: “Editor’s response: No one from the Democratic side was interviewed. Mr. Tichenor was asked to confirm whether he was the volunteer in question.”
Many newspapers respond by claiming that there is no “bias” in the mainstream media and it is just a ploy used by the evil Republicans when the story is not reported their way. I am not claiming “Bias” in the way the NewsVirginian reported this story but I am questioning the tactics and procedures used by the editor to present the facts and the newspapers “Opinion” as it appeared on their opinion page…
Have to go now and cancel my subscription to the NewsVirginian. A subscription that I started and signed up for on the first day of the Augusta County Fair at the NewsVirginian booth…
The Augusta Free Press: http://www.augustafreepress.com/
The NewsVirginian Opinion page:
The United Conservatives Blog: http://unitedconservatives.blogspot.com/2006/08/news-virginian-another-example-of.html