Republican Glenn Youngkin will be the next governor of Virginia. His win over Democrat Terry McAuliffe is seen as a stinging rebuke to Democrats ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
While there’s plenty of blame and credit to go around in any election, many believe the election came down to one thing: a Daily Wire story.
Last month, the right-wing outlet reported on a father’s claim that a nonbinary student sexually assaulted his daughter and that the Loudoun County, Virginia school board covered it up. The school denied the coverup. It said school board members weren’t aware of the alleged assault until the story came out months later. It also said that the school reported the incident to police the day it was alleged. Later emails revealed the school board had been filled in on it.
The father was arrested at a highly contentious school board meeting last June. He was among those opposing inclusive bathroom policies for transgender students, which the state has mandated for all schools.
Attendees that day also included extremely vocal opponents of critical race theory. As the Daily Dot reported at the time, conservatives were making the county the center of the culture war over the theory, which examines United States history through a lens that includes the impacts of racism.
Critical race theory was indeed a key factor of the race. Youngkin made much of McAuliffe’s statement that parents shouldn’t tell schools what to teach.
There were other issues at play, of course, such as the pandemic, economy, and fact that Virginia has a tendency to vote against whichever party controls the White House. The state is not alone in the latter phenomenon.
But to hear some conservative commentators tell it, Youngkin’s win is purely the result of the Daily Wire’s reporting.
The Daily Wire reporter Michael Knowles tweeted, “The election came down to one issue: education. The issue had two aspects: broad concerns over CRT (h/t @realchrisrufo) and a specific news report from @realdailywire’s @lukerosiak about a rape that had been covered up to protect a school district’s trans bathroom policies.”
“DW is a force to be reckoned with,” one of the outlet’s fans replied. “Great job, you are saving America.”
Others shared similar views.
NPR contributor Mike Pesca tweeted, “Youngkin loses but for Chris Ruffo [sic]+ this Daily Wire story.” (The New Yorker reports that Rufo, a right-wing activist, “invented the conflict over critical race theory.”)
For months, the Daily Wire has relentlessly pushed stories about critical race theory and the Virginia governor’s race. The day before the election, the Republican State Leadership Committee used the outlet’s mailing list in a last-minute fundraising pitch for Youngkin.
Many consider it unethical for media outlets to function as an apparatus of a political campaign.
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*First Published: Nov 3, 2021, 11:00 am CDT
Claire Goforth is an award winning journalist covering politics and justice from her home base in Jacksonville, Florida. Her work has appeared in publications ranging from regional alt-weeklies to the Guardian.