Randy Forbes won’t debate. Virginian-Pilot won’t endorse.

Sixteen of the eighteen paragraphs of the Virginian-Pilot’s editorial, “4th District needs better choices”, are a succinct description of why Randy Forbes has not been good for Virginia. It basically says that Randy Forbes does little other than sponsor divisive and unproductive legislation.

Forbes has instead wasted his time in Congress on inconsequential and unnecessarily divisive issues (does Congress need to inform Americans about the role of prayer?) that appeal to a narrow band of the electorate.

Which is all he needs to get re-elected.

But the editorial makes a strange turn as it seems to reach for a justification of its own title.

Elliott Fausz, a newspaperman from Chester, is almost certain to become the latest victim. The Democrat, running for the first time, is genial enough, but his inexperience shows. He has been unable to persuade Forbes to even join him for a debate.

Somehow, the fact that Randy Forbes refuses to debate is Elliott Fausz’s fault.

We do have better choices. I have participated in three campaigns for better choices than Randy Forbes, in which he refused to debate and the Virginian-Pilot failed to endorse his opponent. We had a better choice when Forbes was challenged by an Army doctor and successful entrepreneur. We had a better choice when Forbes was challenged by a teacher, school administrator, and experienced councilwoman. And we now have a better choice as Randy Forbes is being challenged by a smart, young newspaper and business man with fresh ideas. We don’t lack better choices. We lack better endorsements.

At least this time the Virginian Pilot has recognized the silliness of endorsing Randy Forbes, but it is still on the path to curing itself of whatever illness prevents it from endorsing whoever opposes him. The 4th district has about two weeks to show even more progress.

Negative Articles against Cuccinelli Not a Smear Campaign

Lorraine Yuriar of the Hampton Roads Tea Party posted, on the Suffolk Democratic Committee’s Facebook page, a link to her HRTP article about a smear campaign against Ken Cuccinelli. Her article was prompted by a Virginian Pilot article concerning possibly misleading information that Cuccinelli provided about his service in the United States Marines.

But while she gives the journalist a pass for digging up dirt, she uses search results from the Pilot’s website, hamptonroads.com, to theorize that the Pilot is biased against Ken Cuccinelli.

… in total, of the 8 stories on the first page of search results for Terry McAuliffe, half of the articles are favorable to Terry, and only 2 of the articles were old.

On the other hand a quick search for Ken Cuccinelli turns up 8 articles, but all of them are old! The latest article on the first page of the search is dated November 2012.

I found that very strange considering Ken Cuccinelli’s involvement in the Star Scientific affair. I figured the Pilot must have written about Ken Cuccinelli more recently than November.

It has. Unfortunately, HamptonRoads.com has a lousy search engine.

Although the first page of search results for McAuliffe does have more recent articles then the first page of search results about Cuccinelli, if you add the second page you’ll see that Cuccinelli brings up more recent results. I found that the first two pages of results on “Cuccinelli” contain nine articles in July, while the first two pages of results for “McAuliffe” contain only three for July.

Ms. Yuriar is right about the overall count of negative articles about Cuccinelli vs the count of negative articles about McAulliffe, but that is due to Cuccinelli’s involvement in Star Scientific.

Cuccinelli has been investigated for owning stock in Star Scientific and accepting gifts from Star Scientific executive Jonnie Williams, while defending the State of Virginia against a lawsuit filed by that company. News about Ken Cuccinelli’s involvement in Star Scientific is part of a larger scandal surrounding the company’s relationship with Virginia’s governor, Bob McDonnell.

As it turns out, news broke yesterday that Ken Cuccinelli has been cleared of ethics violations in that scandal. Not because he’s squeaky clean though. It still holds true that he only recused himself from the case after Cuccinelli’s relationship with Star Scientific became public. And he still broke the law by not reporting those gifts and his stock in a timely manner. So even if at the end of an investigation into whether or not Cuccinelli’s relationship with Star Scientific violated Virginia’s weak ethics laws, Cuccinelli’s relationship with Star Scientific was, and still is, news.

The Pilot has no obligation to ignore Cuccinelli’s inappropriate (even if not illegal) behavior just to look fair and balanced.

Update (same day as posting) I changed the title from: Negative Articles against Cuccinelli Not Necessarily a Smear Campaign.