Accuracy in Media

About two years ago, photographers captured a photo of a cyclist flipping off President Donald Trump’s motorcade in northern Virginia. The cyclist was identified as Juli Briskman, who worked as a government contractor, and the photograph led to her losing her job and running for a local county board of supervisors position.

Briskman said that after the photograph became viral and reported on major news networks, she told her bosses about it. She claimed she was told to either resign from her job or be fired, and after suing her former employer, won a severance claim. Briskman did lose a wrongful termination lawsuit against her former employer.

Briskman won a county board of supervisors election in Loudoun County, Virginia, where many of D.C.’s wealthy live. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Loudoun County is the top affluent county in the United States with a median income of $119,000. Briskman defeated Republican incumbent Suzanne Volpe with 52 percent of the vote.

The media’s coverage of Briskman’s electoral victory is outsized compared to the impact she will have on a national level. Her election was to a local county board, not Congress or the U.S. Senate, so the policies she will propose or implement only affect residents in the affluent Loudoun County.

CNN and NBC News featured Briskman’s victory on their homepages, which is odd considering that it was a local county race and one that did not have significant national implications. Also, CNN did not mention she ran as a Democratic candidate. NBC News noted her party affiliation in the second paragraph of its article. Neither network mentioned how Loudoun County has Democratic state delegates and a Republican state senator, which indicated how the county has gone from a Republican stronghold to more of two-party county.

Photo by J Sonder

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