CNSNews.com managing editor Michael W. Chapman spent part of last month obsessing over a Virginia state legislative bill -- to the point where he played the old CNS trick of playing gotcha by pestering state legislators about it. The first attempt came in a Sept. 4 article:
Although legislation that would reduce the charge for assaulting a police officer from a felony to a misdemeanor has passed the Virginia Senate and is now in the House of Delegates, the office of House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) did not respond when asked if the Speaker supports the bill.
But that's not exactly what's happening, as even Chapman admits in the question he crafted to ask that legislator; he concedes that the bill would "give a judge or a jury discretion in whether to impose a misdemeanor penalty (instead of the prescribed felony) for a simple assault of a police officer, judge, or EMS personnel." He wrote again later in the article that the bill "would not change the assault/felony statute but it would allow a judge or jury, using their discretion, to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor."
As an actual news outlet reported, the bill "give judges and juries leeway to decide whether someone who shoves a police officer without causing injury deserves the same felony assault charge as someone who punches or stabs and remove a mandatory six-month jail sentence for the offense. But Chapman did not explain why this was such a terrible thing.
Still, follow-up araticles Chapman did started with the same misleading framing.
Sept. 9: "When asked whether she supported legislation that would allow a judge to reduce the penalty for assaulting a police officer from a felony to a misdemeanor in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the office of House Delegate Amanda Batten (R-96th District) said she does not support such legislation, either the Senate version or what may eventually emerge from the House."
Sept. 9: "When asked whether they supported legislation that would reduce the penalty for assaulting a police officer from a felony to a misdemeanor, the offices of six Virginia House Delegates, all Democrats, did not respond."
Sept. 11: "Democrats in the Virginia Senate voted unanimously in August in favor of legislation to reduce the penalty for assaulting a police officer from a felony to a misdemeanor. Senate Republicans opposed the measure."
Sept. 14: "When asked whether she supports legislation that would allow a judge to reduce the penalty for assaulting a police officer from a felony to a misdemeanor in the Commonwealth of Virginia, House Delegate Kathy Byron (R- 22nd District) said she 'adamantly opposes" the idea and added that it "sends the wrong message at the worst possible time.'"
Again, in none of these articles does Chapman explain why this bill is a bad thing, even as he concedes that it merely provides discretion in cases of minor contact.
Chapman's bad-faith intent was made even more clear when he ignored the fact that later in the month the bill was shelved by a Virginia House of Delegates committee for further study. That shows he was trying to push an agenda instead of doing responsible reporting. But then, we don't expect anything else from CNS.