Is Tim Craig Flacking for Dick Saslaw?

In today’s Virginia notebook WaPo writer Tim Craig looks at the special legislative session in Richmond, and lets us all know who he is supporting.

After looking at all the various options, Craig writes:

With gas prices already more than $4 a gallon, House Minority Leader Ward L. Armstrong (D-Bath) has come out against Saslaw’s plan to raise the gas tax by 6 cents over six years, which would cost the average family less than $50 a year.

Now what caught my eye is the casual way Mr. Craig slips advocacy into his article…and in doing so shows why Mr. Saslaw’s bill is doomed and perhaps deserves to fail…and why one would be justified in thinking Mr. Craig has a night job as a PR expert for Senator Saslaw.

The WaPo has long been accused of allowing reporters to slip opinion and advocacy into their articles. Clearly that is what is going on here. Mr. Craig does not offer any independent information to validate his claim, only statement parroting Mr. Saslaw…it’s the parroting part that alerts you that this is advocacy.

More important is Mr. Craig acting as if this increase happens in a vacuum. Families are already having to cut away activities, and now Mr. Saslaw potentially wants them to cut away more so his gas tax can take wing and fly. He sees it as a way to solve one problem, and apparently has no concern what other problem(s) he may be creating.

I don’t know which is a more sorry sight…that of the Majority Leader of the Virginia Senate slashing without concern at the wallets of Virginian’s already stretched tight, or that of a member of the Fourth Estate deciding it was not important to maintain their objectivity.

Either way, it’s a pity.

Flack On, Mr. Craig, Flack On!

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2 thoughts on “Is Tim Craig Flacking for Dick Saslaw?

  1. What’s the problem, do you dispute that the fact is true? A gas tax increase of 6 cents, for the average family (assuming the average family fills up about once a week and has a 15 gallon tank, probably a little high, but we can use it to guesstimate) works out to an extra $46.80 per year. That is once the tax is fully implemented. In the first year, when the increase would only be 1 cent, it would cost the average family $7.80 a year.

    What Craig included is a basic fact about the plan. All you’re complaining about is that Tim Craig cited a fact you don’t like.

  2. No, what I a complaining about is (1) he is a reporter, but is writing like a Saslaw partisan, and (2) Were he writing as a reporthe is citing a fact that is accurate but reported out of context.

    As a reporter (which is his appropriate role), then the correct construction would be something like “Armstrong opposes the gas tax increase, despite Saslaw’s contention that it would cost the average family less than x”. The fact is a key part of the proposal, and should be reported as such.

    The fact is also accurate but is reported out of context. It may be on the surface that it costs x, but how much more are families now having to pay for gas…plus other higher prices caused by increased gas prices…how much more are they paying now due to fuel prices than they were a year ago? Tossing out a statistic like that without offering the surrounding context is not good reporting, but it is excellent flacking.

    I agree, the statistic alone he offered is accurate, but by failing to offer context or proper attribution vis-a-vis one of the proposals opponents, Craig goes from being an objective journalist to a partisan flack…and that is regardless of whether or not you like his statistics.

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