newsinside how people didnt like the youngkin rockingham county fair piece

Inside how people really didn’t like the Youngkin-Rockingham County Fair piece

Chris Graham
glenn youngkin rockingham county fair
Glenn Youngkin on the stage at the Rockingham County Fair. Photo by Crystal Abbe Graham.

Boy, howdy, a few Republicans really didn’t like the article that I wrote on Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s visit to the Rockingham County Fair this week.

One guy tried to tell on me to my boss, which is funny, since I’m the boss, and when I emailed him back to tell him that, he demanded that I never contact him again.

(I had to gently reply that he’d reached out to me first.)

There was the usual run of nonsense from the hard-core MAGA set who used the comments section on the website to try to advance the Big Lie.

Our forums aren’t welcome to people who advance the Big Lie; those folks are now banned.

I also received several emails from people who took the opportunity to accuse me of “bias” and “slander” because the article cast Youngkin in a negative light.

My replies to those folks came along the lines of: where were you when I wrote about how Joe Biden shouldn’t run for a second term, when I called on Ralph Northam to step down as governor after the blackface yearbook scandal hit in 2019, and continued to push on that point through the end of his term?

I didn’t sign away my right to have and to be able to express an opinion when I decided 27 years ago to become a journalist.

In the case of the Youngkin PR blitz at the Rockingham County Fair, sorry, but Youngkin was a fish out of water there, and if I’m painting a picture of the scene, that had to be pointed out.

He claims to have had some sort of hardscrabble background, and I know enough about things to not challenge how somebody else thinks they had obstacles to overcome, but I will say this: I’d take having a father working in finance, a mom who was a nurse, and a private-school education over what I had growing up in a trailer park.

It’s funny to me that him being a Republican makes him a man of the people, and me being a Democrat makes me somehow an elitist.

I was a free-lunch kid in school, worked a run of minimum-wage jobs, and I’m the elitist.

Yeah, checks out.

Youngkin, fair or unfair, looked as out of place at the county fair as I would at one of his big-dollar private-equity soirees in Richmond or D.C. with guys in black ties and women in glamorous dresses.

If I were to invite reporters to follow me around a soiree, I’d expect at least the honest one to point out the obvious, like me asking for ketchup to put on my filet mignon, and could I get a Jack and Coke instead of a glass of wine?

My issue with all of this – Youngkin pretending to be something he isn’t, honestly, Northam also pretending to be something he isn’t, which is, not a slackjaw racist – is the pretense.

I didn’t like Terry McAuliffe’s PR team constantly referring in press releases to his “bold” ideas, and noted in print that his “bold” ideas were anything but.

If you don’t want somebody to point out who you are, basically, don’t ask.

You could just be Chris Runion, a local Republican who serves in the House of Delegates, who engaged me in a conversation on the periphery of the Youngkin phalanx at the county fair to get a sense of what issues I think are important.

Runion wasn’t angling for press, but I was so impressed with his approach that I decided to give him some.

Funny, not a single one of the people accusing me of “bias” and “slander” and the rest even mentioned having read that one.

Because of course they didn’t.

They wanted to be upset at something, and for the kind of people who want to be upset at something, this is the kind of thing they’ll be upset at.

I didn’t write the Runion piece to give me cover for the Youngkin piece. I wrote it because I think it says something about the guy that he initiated a conversation with me knowing full well that the two of us don’t agree on much of anything.

And I didn’t write about how Northam should step down because I was trying to impress anybody that I’m some big bipartisan guy.

I’m an unabashed progressive, but whatever, Northam was an embarrassment as governor, and McAuliffe, to throw him in here, ran almost certainly the worst snatch-defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory campaign in the history of political campaigns.

And Biden, man, I wasn’t on Team Biden when he got the 2020 nomination, held my nose and voted for him because the country needs to be rid of the scourge that is Trumpism, but when it comes to 2024, we need a new direction.

I don’t expect Democrats to agree with me on that, and I don’t expect Republicans to agree with me that Youngkin should go low-key on his next visit to a county fair.

All I want you to expect from me is honesty.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris has won 17 Virginia Press Association awards for his work as an investigative reporter, feature writer and columnist. Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, both published in 2019, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to my YouTube page, Want to reach Chris? Try [email protected].

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