Dirty politics

Fear and Loathing in Waynesboro column by Chris Graham
freepress2@ntelos.net

An urgent message from a business colleague yesterday.

“Call me. Private.”

I’m expecting some sort of scoop. I had no idea I would be the subject of the scoop.

Turns out that somebody is calling around asking friends and former and current business associates the reason why I was fired from The News Virginian, which is interesting, since I wasn’t fired from The News Virginian.

The person who got in touch with me yesterday received four of these calls – from phone numbers in the 703 area code and the 610 area code that he traced to the Reading, Pa., area.

The question that immediately came to mind for me – why in the Sam Hill would anybody from Reading care about little ol’ me?

And for that matter, why would anyone be calling people asking them a question that presumptive – implying that whoever it was “knew” that I had been fired from my post there at the NV eight years ago now, and all they needed was someone to dish the dirt?

I don’t suppose that I need to tell you that I left my job at the NV in 2000 to take another job, at the Charlottesville Observer, and that I in fact continued doing freelance writing for the paper after leaving. And that I took a day off from my job at the Observer to introduce the person who replaced me at the NV to people on my beats from the NV, which included the Waynesboro City Hall beat and the state and federal politics beat.

I’m going to operate under the assumption that somebody out there is upset with me. And I’m actually quite flattered that whoever it is that is having people call folks to try to dig up trash to talk about me is taking that tack. I mean, you don’t hire somebody to do these kinds of things to people who write puff pieces about recovering eaglets and fireworks shows.

We’ve taken a more aggressive approach here at the AFP that has us digging more actively into the public records to find out who is pushing what is going on in the local, state and federal-government scene here in the Valley, raising issue with some of the policy directives that we’re seeing come about, to offer pointed criticisms of official actions taken, and using our work to jumpstart a dialogue about what our communities need to do to build for the future.

I will point out that we have not made it a practice of engaging in the kinds of practices that seem to be in the cards for me with whoever it is that is initating phone calls to people about my job history.

I’ll also mention here that I’m beginning to rethink that. To me, this has always been about the ins and outs of local politics, the idea marketplace. It’s obvious now that there’s somebody out there who wants to make this personal.


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