Terry McAuliffe Isn't an Unethical Businessman, He's 'Laid-back' and 'Easygoing'

The Washington Post seems alarmed at the feel of Terry McAuliffe’s Democratic campaign for governor of Virginia, with its reporter writing “the most striking feature at many of McAuliffe’s appearances may be the almost studied absence of a campaign.”

So you have to laugh when the headline on Page One is “As politicians go, McAuliffe is laid-back on Va. bid.” Inside the paper, the headline was “With easy-going attitude, McAuliffle criss-crosses Va.” What’s funny about this article is there is no “news” in it. It’s just following McAuliffe around assessing his “game” on the campaign trail (and finding it lacking). When the Post had real “news” last week on McAuliffe, it buried it.

Alejandro Mayorkas, nominated to be the deputy secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, is “under scrutiny by the department’s inspector general over allegations that he mismanaged a visa program for foreign investors used by McAuliffe’s car firm, GreenTech, according to congressional aides and documents,” wrote the Post. But that never saw the front-page of the paper, unlike McAuliffe’s enthusiasm for jotting ideas in notepads. It was nowhere in Monday's front-pager.

Instead, the Post has crusaded against current Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell with investigations of his acceptance of thousands of dollars in loans and gifts that regularly make the front page (including when McDonnell announced he was paying back $120,000 last week, which is both front-page news and a feather in the Post's cap.)

Reporter Paul Schwartzman began the story by trying to make it sound positive that McAuliffe gets out a notepad and pen to take notes when five people show up for an event. ”I’ve got notebooks and notebooks with great ideas,” he told the five educators at John Tyler Community College. That quote was on the front page.

The “studied absence of a campaign” line came in paragraph nine, after many readers stopped reading. Obviously, the Post wants Terry to be more professional, to show up for events on time and get some better public-relations and advance work done:

No crowds gathered when he toured a data center in Ashburn or a bookstore in Winchester. There were no campaign workers posting signs reading “McAuliffe for Governor.”

In fact, there were no signs at all.

Just small audiences, sometimes numbering fewer than half a dozen, and the candidate jotting in his notebook, asking questions instead of delivering stump speeches and rarely uttering the name of his Republican opponent, Ken Cuccinelli II.

“How many welding bays here?” McAuliffe asked a professor at John Tyler Community College.

“Where do you hope to be in 10 years?” he asked an executive in Blacksburg.

“If you were governor for a day, what would you change?” he asked (in various ways) everywhere.

If the events presented McAuliffe as a diligent student of issues confronting Virginia, they also could make him seem like a head-swiveling tourist in the state he hopes to lead, with a “Visitor’s Pass” sometimes clipped to his suit jacket.

The Post pushed back against that, underlining McAuliffe’s lived in suburban Fairfax County for two decades, both in captions, and in the article:

Almost every day, Republicans find a way to portray  McAuliffe as an opportunist who inflates his accomplishments, as a Washington insider posing as a Virginian (even as he has lived in Fairfax County for more than 20 years).

Schwartzman the Post reporter even tweeted two months ago: "Anyone calling Terry McAuliffe a VA outsider may want to consider: 4 of past 5 VA govs born outside commonwealth".

That linked to his article suggesting that the Republicans making fun of McAuliffe's outsider image shouldn't work. "Over the past century, the percentage of native-born residents has dropped at a faster pace in Virginia than anywhere else in the country. Today, a little less than half of Virginian’s population was born in the Old Dominion."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis