June 26, 2018

WashPost Ignores Red Hen Owner’s Reported Subsequent Unhinged Actions

On Saturday, two Washington Postreporters posted a 1,300-word story on the treatment Trump administration Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and her party received at the Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington, Virginia. As I noted in a Sunday NewsBusters post, the sympathies of reporters Avi Selk and Sarah Murray were clearly with owner Stephanie Wilkinson, who described herself as “not a huge fan of confrontation.”The two reporters continued to update their story online until  late Monday afternoon, but ignored known narrative-refuting items about Wilkinson.

Wilkinson came into her restaurant after being called in from home after her staff saw that Sanders and her party had arrived. She asked Sanders to speak with her out on the restaurant’s patio. Wilkinson says she told Sanders:

“… the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation.

“I said, ‘I’d like to ask you to leave.’”

Selk and Murray reported that the supposedly non-confrontational owner then attempted to have the rest of the Sanders ostracize her:

“The others at her table had been welcome to stay, Wilkinson said.”

Still, according to Wilkinson, everything supposedly worked out civilly:

For all the angst that evening, Wilkinson said, everything had taken place with decorum. She had been polite; Sanders had been polite; the press secretary’s family had been polite as they followed her out the door.

Selk and Murray also noted Saturday’s tweeted reaction of Mike Huckabee:

Sanders’s father, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, described the episode as “bigotry …”

They ignored the unhinged, hateful, and profane responses at Huckabee’s tweet.

By Monday afternoon, the Post reporters had added several paragraphs. They claimed that “Far-right personalities passed around Wilkinson’s home address and phone number on social media” without naming one, and cited the ridiculous speculation of a nutty “conspiracy theorist” as if it was somehow representative.

More crucially, the two Post reporters ignored Huckabee’s interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham Monday morning which took place on her morning radio talk show at least six hours before their story’s 5:24 p.m. time stamp.

In audio partially replayed on Ingraham’s Monday evening show, Huckabee described the subsequent actions of “not a huge fan of confrontation” Wilkinson when the remaining members of the Sanders party left for another restaurant:

Transcript (additional Monday morning audio added):

LAURA INGRAHAM: Now Huckabee returned home with her husband. But the rest of the family went to another restaurant across the street. Well that didn’t stop Wilkinson or her crusade to drive conservatives, apparently from establishments, even ones she doesn’t run, in the same town.

Governor Mike Huckabee was on my radio show today.

(pre-recorded audio)

MIKE HUCKABEE: The part of that story that has not been told, you’re going to be the first to hear it. Sarah and her husband just went home. (Actually, back to the hotel at which they were staying — Ed.) They had sort of had enough.

But the rest of her family went across the street to a different restaurant. The owner of the Red Hen, because nobody’s told this, then followed them across the street, called people and organized a protest yelling and screaming at them from outside the other restaurant.

(return to studio)

INGRAHAM: Publicly shaming conservatives and targeting them in public. It’s become the new tactic of the left.

It’s not enough to malign them for their beliefs and positions. Now they have be publicly humiliated, including their families and you bet their small children.

Incidentally, Huckabee’s ln-laws, I love this, are liberals, they don’t even like Trump.

(additional audio from original Monday morning Laura Ingraham Show broadcast)

HUCKABEE: One of the members of Sarah’s in-laws who were there — by the way most of her in-laws, not her mother-in-law and father-in-law, but most of them are very liberal. And one of them walked out and said, “Look, I don’t like Trump. I’m not a supporter. I’m a far — considered liberal — but you guys are embarrassing me and you’re not helping the cause.”

It was ironic that, you know — and he said “Sarah is not even here. You’re yelling and screaming at somebody who’s not here.”

Since they clearly devoted time and attention to monitoring reactions to the Red Hen story, it seems very likely that Selk and Murray deliberately chose to ignore Mike Huckabee’s narrative-crushing Monday morning statements about Stephanie Wilkinson’s subsequent actions.

If Huckabee were simply making things up, it’s virtually certain that we’d know it by now — and it turns out that he wasn’t, with the exception of one even more damning (to Wilkinson) detail.

Tuesday evening on Special Report, Doug McElway at Fox News reportedthat the owner of the bed and breakfast at which the Sanders party stayed “confirmed“ what Huckabee said (at the 1:19 mark at the linked video). I spoke with the owner of the bed and breakfast Wednesday morning (he called me back, even though I hadn’t left a message). Contrary to what one might infer from watching the Fox report, he told me that the remainder of the Sanders party visited another restaurant a couple of blocks away — he named the restaurant, but I won’t, but I can tell readers that I found it on Google Maps — and that Wilkinson and others did indeed protest outside that restaurant.

What has happened is that the Post initially bought Stephanie Wilkinson’s bogus self-portrayal of “decorum” and being consistently “polite,” and then decided not to allow new information to get in the way of their original story.

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