After reader backlash, the Washington Post has pulled a line from an op-ed accusing writer J.D. Vance of being a white nationalist for mentioning the declining US birth rate. The article’s author is standing by her claim, though.
Post contributor Marissa Brostoff sought to tease out connections between the pro-life movement and the white nationalist faction in the United States, explaining the latter’s fears about a declining white birth rate and changing racial demographics. In the course of that argument, Brostoff offered a quote from Vance – author of the 2016 best-seller, ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ – portraying him as a mouthpiece for “replacement discourse,” or the fear that American whites will be “replaced” by other races.
“Our people aren’t having enough children to replace themselves. That should bother us,” Brostoff wrote, quoting from a speech Vance gave in July, adding that he “did not spell out exactly who was included in the word ‘our’. He didn’t need to.”
There was just one problem: Vance did spell it out, which is apparent to anyone who reads the speech to which Brostoff herself provided a link. Mere four sentences above the line quoted, it’s clear Vance is referring to American birth rates, mentioning race not once in the speech, but referring to the “nation” and “society” a number of times.
“There are a lot of ways to measure a healthy society, but the most important way to measure a healthy society is by whether a nation is having enough children to replace itself,” Vance said in the speech.
What Washington Post did to J.D. Vance perfectly illustrates why so many Americans don’t trust the media. Compare what he actually said to how the Post wrote about it. Major news outlets need to do some serious soul-searching about this kind of behavior. https://t.co/uLRI8NQnnK
— Clay Routledge (@clayroutledge) August 28, 2019
The Post has since appended an editor’s note to the story, acknowledging the distortion of Vance’s words and removing the line in question, but offered no apology to Vance for the mischaracterization.
Brostoff did not back down following the retraction, however. Doubling down on her claim, she tweeted that Vance’s fans among the Post readers complained and “freaked out” the paper “bad enough that they pulled a line suggesting he was worried about ‘declining white birth rates’ & confirmed that he was [really] talking about ‘declining American birth rates.’”
“[A] very not-white-nationalist thing to be worried about,” she added, sarcastically.
So just to be clear – she lied – offered a non-apology apology while still insinuating Vance is a racist. And Caleb isn’t showing “grace” because he tweeted a pic mocking the non-apology. Do I have that right?
— David (@davidepearson) August 28, 2019
Ironically, Vance is in a biracial marriage and has a son of mixed racial background. While that doesn’t definitively say anything about his views, it does make him an unlikely proponent of a theory decrying non-white reproduction.
A number of major US media outlets, the New York Times and the Post among them, have recently devoted increasing coverage to racial issues in the US, with a flurry of stories in recent weeks from the Post alone taking on “white nationalism” and “white supremacy” in all of its forms – in some cases, apparently, where it doesn’t exist.
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