Editor: Valentines Day allows us to reflect on how the Bonnie and Clyde romance of the 1930s is repeating itself today in Loudoun County.
No, I’m not referring to the romance between the two criminals themselves. I’m referring to the romance between the smitten duo and the media.
You’ll remember from history that Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow brazenly stole money from banks and from mom-and-pop gas stations and grocery stores at gun point. Yet, despite the infamous duo’s dreadful deeds, they were adored by the journalists of that era and romanticized in news reports as heroes.
Today, we have, in effect, our own Bonnies and Clydes serving in positions of power on the Loudoun County School Board, and they, in turn, have their own adoring journalists who tend to write news reports in a manner that lovingly promotes the board’s policies.
Our Bonnies and Clydes, of course, have not stolen money from banks, gas stations and grocery stores like the original Bonnie and Clyde did. They have, however, stolen the childhoods of students and the rights of parents over the past two years. First, they closed schools for too long, and now they are keeping the students’ faces muzzled, while segregating the students who prefer to go maskless from those who prefer to wear masks.
To observe the romance between our journalists and Bonnies and Clydes, just read any story about the school board. One example is the Jan 24 Loudoun Times-Mirror story titled “LCPS: Masking protests a ‘non-event’,” and another is the Jan 27 Loudoun Now story titled “Maskless Monday: Some Students Isolated Amid Conflicting Mandates.”
In the Loudoun Times story, the journalist quoted an official who said, “We’ve had private messages coming in from stakeholders, expressing support for the mask mandate. Those supportive messages outweigh critical ones by a ratio of about 5:1.” The journalist, however, omitted exactly how many supportive messages. Was it 5, 10, 15, or what? We don’t know because the journalist just provided the ratio of 5:1, which by itself made it look like the board’s mask policy is a big hit. Ain’t love grand?
In the Loudoun Now story, in the lead sentence, the journalist emphasized that “Some students defied the Loudoun County Public Schools masking policy this week.” Omitted from the lead paragraph is the fact that the school board itself defied Gov/ Youngkin’s mask policy this week. So, you see, you are led to believe that students, not the board members, are the bad guys in this story. Love conquers all.
While the romance between the media and the original Bonnie and Clyde eventually ended tragically, the romance between our journalists and Bonnies and Clydes will likely continue to flower. Why? Perhaps because love is blind, and as Rush Limbaugh always used to say, “None is so blind as a journalist who does not want to see.”
Mike Panchura, Sterling