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Friday, August 16, 2013


The very ethically challenged Virginian Pilot editors

How do they sleep at night?

The Virginian Pilot has led the charge against Governor Bob McDonnell, effectively accusing him of corruption, for accepting gifts and loans from a business owner Jonnie Williams. Many of the gifts went to Bob McDonnell’s family such as the one that helped pay for his daughter’s wedding.

Today I read an op-ed by Bob Rayner who writes for the Richmond Times Dispatch who informs me of things that virtually no one is aware of: the gifts that a previous Governor and current Senator Tim Kaine received while in the governor’s mansion.

It seems that, in 2005, Tim Kaine accepted the use of a wealthy donor’s Caribbean vacation home, a freebie valued at $18,000. The next year, as governor, Kaine reappointed the same donor to the Virginia Commission for Higher Education Board Appointments, which helps the governor vet candidates for much-sought-after slots on the boards that run Virginia’s state-supported colleges and universities.

In 2005, Kaine also received $3,500 in clothing from Stuart C. Siegel, chairman of S&K Famous Brands Inc., as well as two nights at the luxurious Greenbrier hotel in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., courtesy of the Virginia Bar Association.
In 2006, Gov. Kaine received $12,000 from Teva Pharmaceuticals to pay for a trip to Aspen, Col., where the Democratic Governors Association chose to meet during the middle of steamy summer. Teva is a giant Israeli company that specializes in producing generic drugs. This year, according to Reuters, “Pfizer Inc. said Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. would pay $2.15 billion to settle a patent suit related to its acid-reflux drug. This is the first instance of generic drugmakers paying damages for marketing a copy of an existing drug for which patents have yet to expire.”

Also in 2006, Kaine received gifts worth $3,237 for travel to the Northern Neck, Virginia horse country and the Shenandoah Valley from E. Scott Kasprowicz, a former telecom executive whom Kaine just happened to name as deputy secretary of transportation that very year.

Dominion, the state-regulated power company, paid $1,356 to help fund various trips in 2006 for Kaine, including one to the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament in Indianapolis, where George Mason was playing. And the governor received $777 in various clothing items from S&K, even as the Richmond clothing retailer faced financial difficulties that would push it into bankruptcy a few years later.

During the remainder of Kaine’s term, gifts he accepted included $2,500 in air travel to Denver during the 2008 Democratic convention, provided by billionaire Sheila Johnson, more travel money from Dominion, and tickets to a Washington Wizards game valued at $850 and supplied by Robert F. Hynter, a Northern Virginia business executive.

Bob McDonnell has not appointed Jonnie Williams to any boards. His sin is helping promote a Virginia based business, Star Scientific, something that happens to be part of a governor’s job description.

Which brings us to the Virginian Pilot’s editors ethical lapses. The Pilot’s product is information for the public. When that information about gifts to political figures (and the resulting favors by those politicians) is suppressed in the case of Democrats and gnawed on for weeks and months in the case of Republicans, we are dealing with the ethics of media liars.
Liars? Certainly. Lying can be done as much by withholding information as it can by deliberately providing false witness. In fact, in the press, much more lying is done by “spiking” a story, or treating it as a minor issue on the back pages, than by deliberate lies. Here's a very good example

Of course, I’m sure the editors of the Virginian Pilot don’t see it that way. They ran the column by Bob Rayner on the op-ed page and that’s the last we’ll see of it, but in case anyone challenges the ethically challenged Virginian Pilot editors about their ethical challenges, they’ll point to this borrowed article and claim to have done their jobs. Another lie.

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