Curious controversy around reporting of Goodlatte meeting with tea party leadership

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Last week I reported on a meeting that took place on June 17 between the Staunton Shenandoah Valley Tea Party Patriots (SVTPP) and Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-6th). The controversy arose around a post titled, “Goodlatte requests meeting with Shenandoah Valley tea party leadership 7 days after Eric Cantor’s loss.”

After the post was published, I was contacted by Goodlatte staffer Beth Breeding who wrote:

“Congressman Goodlatte requested this meeting with SVTPP in May, well before the June 10th primary, as part of his continued outreach to groups throughout the Sixth District. The headline of your post is quite misleading, making it look like the meeting was requested in response to Eric Cantor’s loss, which is not the case.”

I immediately changed the title and provided an update to the blog that included the request from Goodlatte’s office.

It started a bit of a controversy. On Sunday, July 6, the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party Patriots newsletter referenced the post by writing:

“This past week I [Ed Long, SVTPP Director] received a call from Congressman Goodlatte’s Washington office that informed me Lynn Mitchell had blogged about the article in our June 29th Newsletter reporting the SVTPP Leadership’s meeting with Congressman Goodlatte. The call was to let us know that Mitchell inferred the meeting took place because of Cantor’s primary loss. Goodlatte’s Office had informed Mitchell that was not correct.

“Bruce [Richmond] and I read the article and found that even with the retraction by Mitchell it still was inaccurate and speculative. Mitchell could have avoided her errors if she had bothered to contact me for clarity.”

It was curious to discover the tea party was offended by the post and accused of not reporting the facts.

These are the facts:

Fact #1: The tea party did in fact have a meeting with Congressman Goodlatte seven days after Cantor’s loss.  When Goodlatte’s office contacted me about their concern, I immediately made changes and updated the post and responded that if I could be of further help to please let me know.

Fact #2: The tea party leadership accused of not reporting accurately. However, direct quotes were taken from the SVTPP newsletter. There was no need to “clarify” anything with Mr. Long as the quotes speak for themselves.

Regardless of this controversy, we are pleased that Congressman Goodlatte is meeting with Ed Long and his tea party constituents, and applaud the Congressman for his willingness to meet with other groups as well.

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