Armed with both a transcript and an MP3 of last Saturday’s West Virginia debate between Jerry Kilgore and Lt. Governor Tim Kaine, I’ve been reviewing the whole thing. I’ve found it pretty interesting. Jerry Kilgore’s nasty tenor really doesn’t come across in the transcript, but when listening to the audio, the contrast between Kaine’s even keel and Kilgore’s catty swipes is particularly stark.
I’ve excerpted some audio clips from the debate. Think of them as Cliff’s Notes versions — I’ve cut out long silence, unnecessary bits, things that bore me, etc., reducing exchanges to what I figure is their essence. There’s no audio equivalent of “…”, so just know that they’ve been sliced up.
Here’s the first one, the one that surprised me the most. I knew, while liveblogging the debates, that Jerry Kilgore had asserted that Richmond schools were, under Kaine’s leadership, the worst in the state. Despite a good bit of research, I just can’t find anything to back that up. State education data, in fact, makes clear that there was great improvement in the Richmond schools while Kaine was on Council, although it’s not obvious to me why Kaine deserves credit for what their school board did. Anyhow, I’d chalked it up to just a slip of the tongue on Kilgore’s part. Maybe he’d meant to say something else.
Whoa. No way was that an accident. Kilgore spent a total of 1:06 repeating this lie over and over again. It’s beyond deliberate, having moved into the realm of hypnotic repetition.
Is Kilgore’s staff steering him wrong? Or did he knowingly tell this whopper, figuring that the press wouldn’t bother to check up on it? Why would he feel the need to lie?
For that matter, why didn’t the press fact check this? This is a big question: what is the role of the press in covering this race, if not sorting through the rhetoric and telling us what’s true and what’s not?