The Gazette-Mail was denied entrance to Gov. Jim Justice’s election event at his Greenbrier resort Tuesday night. All we wanted was a photo of the governor accepting his victory. No dice.
The governor will tell you how little he likes the Gazette-Mail. We don’t blame him. After all the reporting in this publication — both when Justice was a Democrat and, later, a Republican — on the governor’s inability to separate himself from his businesses, leading to his personal financial gain; the trail of lawsuits and failure to pay legal settlements and business fines; the fact that he flouts the state constitution by not living in the state capital, which usually has him behind the curve on what is happening here; makes his acrimony understandable.
Other news outlets reported have less-than-rosy information on Jim Justice. West Virginia Metro News reported on a federal investigation into Justice’s finances, but the same ire from the governor just wasn’t there.
But why would the governor want to keep a newspaper out when it would be capturing his victory? Because it’s a petty thing to do, and there seems to be no cap on how much of that quality Gov. Justice is willing to display.
Most high-ranking politicians don’t like news outlets they see as oppositional — whether that’s real or perceived — but they at least get the concept that some level of mutual tolerance is expected and is, frankly, important.
Not letting the Gazette-Mail in for a photo is a small thing — again, petty — that points to a host of larger problems.
Perhaps just the name of the publication reminds the governor that everyone knows he tries to get out of paying taxes and spends a lot of time defending his businesses in court. Maybe it reminds him that he was handling an unprecedented pandemic fairly well, but has fumbled away control after he eased up guidelines and metrics, leading to spiking numbers and rising deaths. It also got worse after Justice stopped showing up every day, instead commuting in for briefings three times a week.
Gov. Justice has been given four more years as the top executive in West Virginia. This is his chance to grow up. As a 69-year-old billionaire surrounded by yes-men, we doubt he’ll take it, even if it means he could prove us wrong.