Don’t like your press coverage? Buy your own!

There is of course nothing more guffaw-inducing than the pomposity of a self-promoting local two-bit politician, and so in these discouraging times in our local government we would like to thank Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) for providing us some much-needed comic relief.

Supervisor Buona — taking a break from the hard work of paying off political donors (e.g., the backers of the One Loudoun stadium), slashing the school budget, and staging tax-cutting theatrics to shore up his far-right base in the local Loudoun County Republican Committee —  calls attention in his latest “news[sic]letter” to a hard-hitting piece of journalism featuring . . . a gushing profile of Supervisor Ralph Buona.

With the politician’s usual unctuous false modesty (“I am deeply touched and honored . . .”) the supervisor provides a convenient link to the blog containing the piece about himself, modestly entitled “Profile of a Driven Man,” which I admit at first made me think that perhaps I had missed the news that the Loudoun Board of Supervisors had voted to provide chauffeur service to elected officials.

No, it turns out to be a worshipful interview in which Supervisor Buona tells us of all he has achieved so far in his rich and rewarding life and all he still hopes to give the world in the time he has left on this earth. In the interview Buona is grilled with such tough, hard-hitting journalistic questions as, “If you could describe yourself in ONE word, what would it be and why?” (Buona’s totally unrehearsed reply: “Driven. I like to set goals and then I go all out in my pursuit of them.”)

And who is the author of this “blog” so full of enthusiasm for our dedicated public servant? It is . . . a PR firm whose clients include One Loudoun (funny how they keep popping up everywhere), Virginia Uranium, the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce, the Colonial Pipeline corporation, and several business groups trying to “reform” Virginia’s tort laws, so that people whom they have injured can never ever sue for damages, thus making the world a better place.

This of course is part of the pattern of our current all-Republican Board, whose members suffer a collective attack of the vapors on the rare occasions when any truly independent media voice (there’s a few of them left) points out what they are really up to, and who have worked assiduously to blur the role of independent media by issuing (at taxpayer expense, by the way) their own “news[sic]letters” full of anodyne, feel-good blather and community news about bake sales and what to do when your power goes out in a storm and (Geary Higgins reports this week) that spring is here, and by hiring last summer (at taxpayer expense, by the way) a PR spin-doctor to run a “retreat” for them at which they honed just the right phrases to express their “vision” and summarize their remarkable “accomplishments” in a mere six months in office (absolutely genuine example of what they came up with: “Achieved breakthrough on economic development”).

Meanwhile, our two pathetic excuses for a local newspaper have all but abandoned even a pretense of the kind of routine coverage of government officials that just a generation ago was the norm everywhere.

Last week, the CEO of Leesburg Today‘s new Texas-based parent company dislocated his shoulder patting himself on the back in a self-promoting article commemorating the paper’s 25th anniversary, in which he declared that his readers “want someone protecting the public’s right to know and serving as a watchdog on government . . . No one does these things better than our papers.”

Oh, really? Forgive us for not noticing that lurking in the heart of that neutered Pekinese was a “watchdog.”

When was the last time anyone can point to an article in Leesburg Today in which the reporter did one iota of actual reporting on what our local government is up to, or did anything beyond simply quoting at face value one of our supervisors — much less independently checking any assertions they made or interviewing an outside expert or even someone on the opposing side of an issue? It took the Washington Post to break the story of Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio’s abuse of office and staff and Chairman Scott York’s attempts to cover it up; none of the local papers have deemed it newsworthy to investigate or even mention the conflicts of interest in the Board’s repeatedly approving measures sought by, and for the direct benefit of, major campaign donors; none have examined much less explained the impact of the multitude of technical zoning and regulatory changes the Board swiftly adopted to benefit the development industry.

By the way, that very same new Leesburg Today CEO, Richard Connor, recently showed his devotion to journalistic integrity and independence by giving free ads in the company’s Portland, Maine, newspaper to a political group whose position the company supported, an apparent violation of state election laws.

So in the absence of any real media, we can no doubt look forward to more wholly admiring profiles of our fearless public servants from our local pseudo-media. Perhaps Supervisor Buona’s favorite business-friendly PR firm will in future installments offer us scenic pictorial travelogues of Scott York’s adventure travel to Germany, Britain, and Taiwan (at taxpayer expense, by the way) or Eugene Delgaudio’s decorating tips on how to comfortably install a family of six in a 1,000 square foot town home.



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