Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe told Deray McKesson on Pod Save the People on Monday that “we had picked up different weapons [white supremacists] had stashed around the city.” The mainstream media has done a good job reporting on the events in Charlottesville, but this is a crucial detail that they have ignored seemingly in favor of chasing the madness that has been Donald Trump’s reaction to this mess (to be fair, McAuliffe probably should have also said this in a press conference instead of burying it in a podcast).
UPDATE: The Virginia police have pushed back against the words of the Virginia governor, and so we have tweaked the title and reached out to the governor’s office for comment, and will update accordingly if we get a response. If it turns out the police are correct, and there were no weapons stashes, then we will issue an apology to the mainstream media, but given that the governor and his police force are saying two entirely different things, it gives even more justification to the idea that the media should dig in to this portion of the saga to figure out what really happened.
I’m not saying that this story should knock Trump off the front pages, but there is no excuse for not reporting this statement that was revealed by as legitimate a source as it gets. All you need to do is print McAuliffe’s words and the report is written.
This continues a disturbing trend that the mainstream media initiated over a year ago—where Donald Trump takes up so much media oxygen that we spend more time debating his reaction to an issue than the issue itself. The fact that there may have been weapons stashed around the city reveals that the Nazis may have planned for far more violence than we witnessed, and it needs to be reported as widely as possible. It demonstrates that this is more of a violent uprising than a peaceful protest. The Nazis intimated as such when they said that:
“This is more than just a Confederate monument. This is images of white people. This is images of white heroes, images of white warriors, that are being torn down to attack and demoralize our people. Make us think that we don’t have a future. They don’t want us to have a future. They want to destroy our future. They want to replace us with some sort of mixed muddy people that would just be easy consumers that won’t stand up for themselves.”
We are at a dangerous crossroads in this country’s history. White supremacy has always been an undercurrent that rips souls out of the public sphere, but we have done a decent job of pushing those ideas to the fringe since the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Political and racial violence has not stopped, but they have found little to no mainstream backers to justify their hatred. Donald Trump changed that, and the media and us media consumers need to alter our behavior and expectations in kind. These Nazis didn’t bring guns to this protest to not use them, and one may have shot and killed a counter-protester if not for the timely snap of a camera.
Downplaying the violence in this movement will not make it go away. We must face it head on and come to grips with the fact that we are likely to see more of these armed insurrections as long as Donald Trump is out there apologizing for Nazis. The media needs to be much more explicit in calling out orchestrated violence so we all understand the exact kind of evil we are up against.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.