In Defense of Denis Finley – “The Factor” got it wrong

Guest post by John Fredericks

At the expense of being classified by Bill O’Reilly as “pin-head,” the normally astute Fox News talk show icon really got this one wrong. And now he won’t own up to his own editorial malfeasance.

O’Reilly’s attempt to spin a yarn about how Virginian-Pilot Editor-in-Chief Denis Finley is part of some vast left-wing conspiracy to cover up an alleged mob attack by a group of African American teenagers against two unsuspecting white Pilot reporters in downtown Norfolk two weeks ago is pure political fantasy.

While Finley and his city editors may have missed the significance of the story in deciding it was not worthy of making the newspaper, to accuse Finley of consciously making the call to ignore the story for ideological or political correctness reasons is playing fast and loose with the facts.

It’s sensationalism on a grand scale not worthy of the grocery store tabloids, let alone a national television show.

But why let pesky facts get in the way of an otherwise powder-keg story?

First, Finley is one of perhaps a handful of remaining conservative Republican editors of a major daily newspaper left in the United States. Like me, Finley was an early Newt Gingrich for President supporter. Now he’s for Mitt Romney. So much for his “liberal” bias.

But as editor, he keeps his political views out of the newsroom. That’s the way it should be, and Finley is the consummate professional.

Second, the police report submitted by Norfolk cops on the scene was vanilla. Their report made no mention of unruly mobs engaged in race baiting. They classified the alleged attack as a “simple assault” and cited “vandalism” of $300, the cost of one of the two alleged victim’s broken spectacles.

Third, neither Pilot employee wanted to come forward — or even file a police report — the day after the alleged crime. It was only later that they had a change of heart. Rather than go back to their news editors, they went to the editorial department. Editorial writer and Pilot opinion columnist Michelle Washington seized on the opportunity and took it from there. The Drudge Report picked up her column nationally – and inserted a bogus, contrived headline: “100 black teens beat white couple – media buries story.” The conspiracy theorists then ran amuck with it.

Enter “The Factor.” Not bothering with tedious fact checking, O’Reilly ran with the conspiracy theory lock, stock and barrel. He first reported on the story by saying there was a mob of 100. Then he changed it to 30. Now we find out it was more like five who were actually involved.

Should Finley and his editors have published a story about the altercation at first blush? It’s a judgment call. You can legitimately bring into question Finley’s decision, and claim he erred in dismissing the attack as not newsworthy. That’s fair fodder. We all make mistakes. But to classify him a left-wing conspirator who attempted to manipulate news coverage to serve his personal philosophical viewpoint is downright irresponsible. That’s what a local NBC news affiliate did with the Trayvon Martin 911 tape.

O’Reilly has created a false and disingenuous narrative to serve his own political – not to mention ratings – agenda at the expense of an innocent man, tarnishing an otherwise impeccable 25-year reputation in the process.

On this story, “The Factor” has morphed from a “no-spin” zone to the virtual roulette wheel of political hysteria. Who’s the pinhead now?

And that’s a wrap, Bill.

John Fredericks
Morning drive conservative radio talk show host- WHKT AM 1650
“Commonsense for the Common Wealth” 6 – 9 a.m.; M – F
Cross-posted from The John Fredericks Show


5 thoughts on “In Defense of Denis Finley – “The Factor” got it wrong

  1. Blacks assault whites on a daily basis in Norfolk, and it’s been that way for decades.

    After “Roots” was aired on TV, blacks at Lake Taylor high school beat up a white girl in a wheelchair.

    We were told we had to “understand their passion” . . . no one was arrested.

    The place is a sewer.

  2. BS! Denis Finley is the one that got it wrong. Had a white mob jumped on two black Americans the media would sit it out like they’re doing now? Tell me you believe that bs… I dare you! Maybe the woman should NOT have locked her car door and upset these fine examples of American youth….RIGHT? Geez. This “In Defense” is just more of the same lame damage control for Denis Finley. Keep up the phat work! LOL.

  3. Unlike most people, I don’t think the cover up or the attack had anything to do with race, but rather with a disturbing relationship the Pilot has with local police departments. According to their ethics policy and Finley’s own words, their reporters are supposed to go beyond the basic public record when investigating crime stories, however this rarely happens. I don’t think it’s necessarily a corrupt agreement at the outset whereby they cover for each other on embarrassing stories, but rather budget cuts have made it so that reporters have neither the time or resources to go beyond a call to the police department and the prosecutors before writing a story. That being said, once it becomes apparent that either the police or newspaper got it wrong, they seem to regularly conspire to keep certain facts and/or occurrences outside the public’s view to save face for both entities. This mob attack is but one example of that.

  4. O’Reilly will not look into Republican Voter Fraud!!!

    Republican Voter Fraud is becoming Rampant. Check out YouTube “Chris Woodfin”. The Top Republican for Bobby Scott’s 3rd District, Christopher Woodfin, has been caught on video tape of his statements that he is committing voter fraud. He states he lives in the 4th Congressional District (Chesapeake) but votes in Norfolk (3rd Congressional District). He stated this on July 14, 2011. Incredibly the 3 Republican lawyers (one works for Attorney General Cuccinelli’s office as an assistant AG), 8 other city/county leaders and other Republicans listened to this confession and never did anything. Woodfin is running for 3rd District Chair again, even though everyone knows he lives in Chesapeake. OUTRAGEOUS!!! Please check out the video – only 7 minutes.
    YouTube “Chris Woodfin”

    Nadia Crook

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