C&BP Seeks Confirmation Manatt Timeline Was Vetted by Editorial Page — Or Was There a Ghostwriter?

Checks and Balances Project (C&BP) wants to give credit to The Virginian-Pilot letters editor Johanna Somers. She quickly corrected an imbalance in the way letter signers responding to a recent Pilot editorial harshly criticizing Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) were described.

Jack McNamara, who defended Sentara, was described merely by his name. In actuality, he is a former top Sentara executive. Dr. Edward Lilly, who defended EVMS, was described by both name and his ties to EVMS. When we pointed that out, Somers quickly responded and addressed the imbalance.

In the spirit of that same journalistic rigor, we have asked The Virginian-Pilot’s editorial page editors, Kris Worrell, Brian Colligan, and Par Ridder, through Ms. Worrell, about their December 3 editorial, “Time for a Discussion About EVMS.”

The editorial rested on the assumption that a timeline supplied by the Sentara-hired consultant, Manatt Health Strategies, was accurate and complete.

The chronology of the Manatt study, helpfully provided, tells you all you need to know about the relatively quality of EVMS’ ‘participation’.” 

But did the editorial board they vet those materials against the public record? Did they even write the piece themselves?

Another Ghostwriter?

The editorial board was recently criticized for misleading use of a ghostwriter — Gordon “G.C.” Morse — to write unsigned, pro-Dominion editorials. We asked Ms. Worrell: Did this editorial have a ghostwriter as well? Was it Morse? We note that John “Dubby” Wynn was once CEO of Landmark Communications, a company that owned The Virginian-Pilot. Wynne is embroiled in the controversy around Sentara and EVMS. Was it Wynne?

The Pilot has long been one of the pillars of journalism in Virginia. The quick turnaround by the letters editor on a clear editorial mistake suggests that the Pilot’s still operating on sound journalism principles. That gives us confidence that hanging such an aggressive editorial on a timeline supplied by a self-interested party would happen only after a thorough vetting. But readers need to know that steps were taken to ensure that was the case.

Ms. Worrell, the floor is yours.


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Scott Peterson is executive director of Checks and Balances Project, an investigative watchdog blog holding government officials, lobbyists, and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP is provided by Renew American Prosperity and individual donors.


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