Some Virginia print media took at face value baseless allegations of critical race theory while covering local election results

After Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial election on November 2, Commonwealth print media scrambled to explain why the Republican Party had apparently grown statewide , from the governor’s race to local school boards.

Much of the local coverage of the election results uncritically cited critical race theory – or, more euphemistically, “education” – as the problem that drew voters to Republican candidates, including Youngkin. In doing so, the media have often overlooked the vital context: the debate over critical race theory is a topic of discussion invented by the right-wing media.

In reality, Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a broad framework of ideas that examines systemic racism in the United States. This is a graduate legal theory that is not taught in K-12 public schools. Right-wing media have made him a political bogeyman to make parents angry with schools that teach children even basic facts about the history and lasting impacts of racism in the United States, while conservative politicians used it as a wedge issue to exploit racism for electoral gain and to snatch education control.

During his campaign for governor, Youngkin noted he would ban the teaching of critical race theory in Virginia schools (it cannot be learned), deceptively claims McAuliffe did not believe that parents had the right to be involved in their children’s education and released a campaign announcement featuring a white woman who pushed to ban the novel by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison Beloved to have been taught in a local school. (Beloved depicts the experiences of a formerly enslaved black woman and has nothing to do with CRT.)

After the election, local print media often took right-wing concerns about CRT at face value, describing Youngkin’s fear of CRT (or “education”) as part of what enabled him to. get ahead of McAuliffe without offering any context on the root of the problem. And they also failed to provide this information when reporting on other local Republican candidates. They did not always mention that CRT is not taught in K-12 schools, and they largely failed to note that the right-wing discourse on school curricula and the prohibition of books is rooted in racism.

  • A story in Roanoke Times, too published in other Lee Enterprises papersVirginia House of Delegates candidate Wren Williams said “reiterated his opposition to teaching critical race theory in schools” after winning his election. This story did not mention that CRT is already not taught in K-12 schools in Virginia.
  • In his first coverage of the gubernatorial race result, which was later updated to include more context, the Richmond Times-Dispatch (also republished in other Lee points of sale) initially euphemistically said that Youngkin “has gained momentum by emphasizing burning education issues and emphasizing the role of parents in their children’s education.” The article further stated that Youngkin had “vowed to eliminate ‘critical race theory’ from classrooms,” without verifying the facts of his deceptive rhetoric.
  • The (Harrisonburg) Daily News-Record covered a local school board election in which a Tory candidate appeared to be heading for victory by taking the candidate’s claims about CRT at face value, not to mention that it is not taught in schools: “In his speech on Tuesday, Cross said he would remain vigilant ‘eye’ against critical race theory in Rockingham County public schools.
  • Inside NoVa reported that GOP candidate Steve Pleickhardt, who had lost his candidacy for the Virginia House of Delegates, had “submitted questions of parenting choice in the school curriculum, reinforcing accusations of critical race theory taught in schools in Northern Virginia “. This story did not verify these bogus “accusations”.
  • In his coverage of Youngkin’s victory, Inside NoVa reported that McAuliffe “started to lose ground in late September, as Youngkin latched onto the debate over critical race theory and focused on involving parents in education issues.” This story also failed to note that the CRT “debate” is a fabricated problem.
  • On election day (Petersburg) Progress index published the lie that children learn CRT in schools without hindsight against the right-wing talking point: “A number of people have expressed their disagreement with the critical race theory that is taught in some schools. “Kids don’t have to be taught to hate when they don’t hate to start with,” says 73-year-old Connie Webster. ”

While most media have failed to explain the dishonesty inherent in using CRT as a political tool, some at least mentioned that it was not taught in schools in Virginia. There was even a good analysis of the topic from the local NBC affiliate. NBC4 Washington.

  • November 2, the Danville & Bee register reported that Youngkin had “castigated” critical race theory “” during the campaign, but noted that “critical race theory is not mentioned in state learning standards,” and noted cited a PolitiFact article listing many schools in Virginia that have reported not teaching it.
  • Daily Progress (Charlottesville) verified Youngkin’s claims about the CRT, writing that “Critical Race Theory is a high-level academic framework that argues that racism is ingrained in legal systems and policies that are not on the curriculum of State Studies K-12 “.
  • An updated electoral history of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, reposted in other Lee Enterprises newspapers in Virginia, noted that Youngkin “was exploiting cultural divisions” with his appeals to CRT. The newspaper wrote that “Youngkin reinforced his calls for an end to” critical race theory, “a term Republicans use to refer to the teaching of systemic racism in schools, or broadly to refer to the racism.”

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