Archive for October, 2014

Regrets, and a change

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The point of view of The Charleston Daily Mail’s editorial page is conservative.

It’s the kind of conservative that believes in the power of the individual. That is, each individual has the possibility to flourish, succeed and prosper.

That’s why it was so disheartening to see the careless words of one of our own editorial writers describing a young man whose life ended tragically too soon.

Writing on his own personal blog, Don Surber discussed the tense race-related situation in Ferguson Missouri. He selected words that were unfortunate, inflammatory and, in our view, indefensible.

It’s his own blog, but still, he’s known as a Daily Mail editorial columnist and many readers seemed to perceive the views stated to reflect on the Daily Mail’s editorial policy.

They don’t. And this newspaper is working to rebuild the community’s trust.

As of this week, Mr. Surber is no longer employed by the Daily Mail. While his sometimes controversial and caustic columns were noted by many readers, few readers realize the in-depth institutional knowledge and substantial contributions he made during his 30 year career here.

We thank him for his service and we wish Mr. Surber good luck.

And we wish for readers to continue to look to and trust the Daily Mail for informed commentary on conservative causes such as limited government, fiscal responsibility, free enterprise and individual rights.

How the Charleston Daily Mail came to endorse Nick Casey and more

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rare is the individual who clips a newspaper’s endorsements and adheres to the advice in the ballot box.

Bless them if they do. But it’s not what we expect.

We always say, we’re not telling you what to think; we’re just telling you what we think.

If you do want to know what we think, all of this election season’s endorsements for the Charleston Daily Mail editorial board may be found here. 

We have lively discussions about our endorsements, and we base our assessments on meeting the candidates, gathering whatever knowledge we can muster about their voting record or reputation in the community and trying to adhere to the philosophical tradition of the paper, which is fiscally conservative and pro-economic growth.

Most of the time our endorsements are not controversial, although sometimes response can be surprising as with this sample of Facebook comments about our U.S. Senate endorsement of Shelley Moore Capito, who we’d consider a moderate Republican in line with the Daily Mail’s editorial page philosophy.



Maybe some things that seem like tradition in a newspaper lose their context when they get out there in the social media frontier.

In any case, one of our endorsement decisions stood out because of some complications. In the race for Congress, Daily Mail editors had to choose between Republican Alex Mooney, a former Maryland legislator who arrived in West Virginia just in time to campaign, and Nick Casey, former chairman of the WV Democratic Party, who campaigned for Barack Obama but who otherwise has an excellent reputation as a longtime contributor to our community.

We’re known as the conservative newspaper in West Virginia’s capital. So, pick the conservative — or the West Virginian?

We went with Casey.

Democrat Nick Casey is the gentleman we all know, having lived his life in West Virginia and served in volunteer capacity with many state organizations, including the state’s Catholic Diocese, the St. Francis Hospital Board of Directors and the West Virginia State Bar.

This caused a bit of a stir.

Some thought the endorsement was a bad move.

Others were pleased.

And some figured no big deal.

The Daily Mail wound up being cited in a tightening of the race in Sabato’s Crystal Ball website run by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics

A more subtle problem for Mooney is that he chose to live in the Mountain State’s Eastern Panhandle, while Nick Casey, the Democratic nominee, is from Charleston, which is the heart of the district. A number of local Republican officials are backing Casey, and he even got the endorsement of the Charleston Daily Mail, the more conservative of the two papers in the state capital. The endorsement headline: “In 2nd District U.S. House race, go with the one you know.” Newspaper endorsements don’t move races, but Mooney’s failure to win the endorsement of the paper is emblematic of his larger problems getting conservatives to back him in sufficient numbers.

At least we made you think.

Here’s where some other West Virginia newspapers came down on the race.

The Charleston Gazette went for Casey, blasting Mooney and saying saying “In contrast, the Democratic nominee in the 2nd District, Charleston lawyer Nick Casey, is practical, sensible and concerned with average folks.”

Clarksburg’s Exponent-Telegram, which isn’t based in the 2nd Congressional District but which has readers who live in counties that are, also went for Casey. The Exponent-Telegram said,”Casey is a Democrat, but he doesn’t fall hook, line and sinker for the party line.”

The Inter-Mountain in Elkins went for Mooney.

And The Journal in Martinsburg also backed Mooney — as a man with an Eastern Panhandle perspective. (The link looks at first like it won’t show you the whole endorsement but then it comes to life; or at least it did for me.) The Journal wrote, “On Nov. 4, we have the opportunity to elect a congressman who can represent us in Washington. We can elect one of our own — Alex Mooney.”

That’s not likely how you’ll hear matters expressed in Charleston.

In any case, we don’t tell you what to think. We just tell you what we think.

So there you have it. God bless and go vote. And if you do go vote, take your Daily Mail endorsements along with you. endorse

Everything old is on fire again

Monday, October 20, 2014

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Now that the fires are tamped down and the Dumpsters returned to their homes, the hand-wringing over post-game rioting following West Virginia University’s upset of then-No. 4 Baylor has begun in earnest.

As anyone who follows college sports can tell you, Morgantown has a dubious distinction for its incendiary celebrations after big wins.

In 2012, the last time this happened — maybe too long ago for for a lot of fans — head coach Dana Holgorsen had some words for those tempted to take their festivities too far: “I would encourage everyone involved to get used to wins like that.”

(Of course, days after those optimistic words, Texas Tech went on to upset WVU and set in motion a slide from which the team only now seems to be recovering, which, while it might explain the pent-up excitement, offers no excuse for the destruction.)

I wrote a column back in 2002, after we defeated No. 3 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, 21-18, our last Top 5 upset. It was an effort to put into context a supposed “tradition” and its place in WVU’s new reality.

But while the Mountaineers’ sports landscape has changed dramatically — and for the better — it appears not much else has.

My turn: Burning couches isn’t new

If it had anything to do with some sort of special win, I would encourage everyone involved to get used to wins like that – See more at:
If it had anything to do with some sort of special win, I would encourage everyone involved to get used to wins like that – See more at:
If it had anything to do with some sort of special win, I would encourage everyone involved to get used to wins like that – See more at:
In 2002, the last time West Virginia University defeated a Top 5 team, revelers set more than 30 fires in Morgantown.

In 2002, the last time West Virginia University defeated a Top 5 team, revelers set more than 30 fires in Morgantown.

As a responsible furniture owner, let me just say I was shocked by the reports of rampant couch burning by West Virginia University students after last week’s upset of Virginia Tech. 

What’s the matter with these kids? Don’t they know how much a good sectional couch costs?

Besides, in my day, burning things meant something. Sure, we wanted to burn sections of something — sections of town.

Those were the days when the legal drinking age was 18, our nearest rival, the University of Pittsburgh, was only a few years removed from their last national championship and cocky, future Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino stood behind center. We wanted to knock off someone big — anyone big.

By the time I got to school, our record against powerhouses such as Pitt and Penn State was dismal enough that I was told should we ever beat one of them, we would burn down Morgantown’s legendary bar district, Sunnyside.

It was almost like a high-stakes bet, as if a big-time victory were so dear, we would sacrifice the thing nearest and dearest to an undergraduate’s heart to achieve it. In this case, it was a row of wonderfully low establishments serving up our favorite frothy beverages.

That first year, down fell Oklahoma. Then, later, Pitt. And eventually, even Penn State.

Each time, as if from a congress of pigskin shamans, the incantation arose: “Sunnyside burns! Sunnyside burns!” But it never did.

Impromptu bonfires were lit, put out and re-started. And, yes, upholstery somehow got involved then, too.

Still, my friends and I knew that the handful of truly determined firebugs weren’t in their right minds, just addled, excitable and in need of attention. We stood back and tried not to get in their way.

Once in a while, one of us would hoot. Mostly, we just raised our plastic cups, basked in the glow of a satisfying victory and worked up the nerve to talk to coeds. We were nerds.

Now, with zoning having mostly washed away the neighborhood’s sudsy reputation, Sunnyside is but a sad shadow of its former glory, its value as the payoff to a big bet diminished. There’s no sacrifice in what’s essentially a stretch of sidewalk leading to off-campus housing.

Legends die hard. I can only guess that’s the motivation behind this generation’s celebratory pyromaniacs.

It makes for good copy. A blurb and a roll of the eyes on SportsCenter.

But in the presence of people who didn’t attend my school, I feel like someone sitting with the in-laws’ family at a wedding reception and watching a drunken, distant relative make a fool of himself. There’s great love — and great embarrassment — at what should be a very happy occasion.

Nobody likes being in the hot seat.

How WV newspapers played the legalization of gay marriage

Friday, October 10, 2014

West Virginia’s state government made history this week by dropping its opposition to gay marriage.

This followed a U.S. Supreme Court non-decision decision earlier in the week, where the justices said no thanks to hearing appeals of lower level courts — basically, in the case of this region, letting the final word lie with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals covering Virginia and West Virginia.

It’s a complicated legal trail, but the bottom line is Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said there’s no point in fighting any more, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said “agree,” and county clerks started issuing gender-neutral marriage licenses.

The Charleston Daily Mail tried to balance the historic nature of the situation with the conservative nature of many of our print readers. In many ways, this was such a big story BECAUSE West Virginians have been, by and large, socially conservative.

Not everyone will agree we pulled off the balance. In fact, this is such a divisive story, probably no one will agree about that.

In any case, the Daily Mail played the story bigger than most West Virginia newspapers.

Courtesy of The Newseum, here’s a look at WV front pages:










Please remove Charleston Daily Mail photo from Addicting Info site

Monday, October 6, 2014


These guys removed the Daily Mail’s photo (of the wrong officer) from their site.

It took a couple days, but at least they got it down.

They included an editor’s note that said this: “Note: An earlier version of this article accidentally featured a photo of an officer who was not officer Shawn Williams. We apologize for any misunderstanding this may have created.”

To the publishers of
I am Brad McElhinny, editor and publisher of the Charleston Daily Mail newspaper in West Virginia.

I am writing to inform you that a thumbnail photo that has been posted with your item, “WV Cop Suspended…” is the intellectual property of The Charleston Daily Mail. Its original use may be seen here. Our newspaper, and professional photographer Tom Hindman, were not credited with the photo. Nor were we asked permission for its use. If we had been asked permission for its use in this instance, the request would have been denied.

The photograph does not depict Officer Shawn Williams, the subject of your story. Instead, it is a photo illustration featuring Charleston Patrolman Brian Lightner, who was featured in our newspaper in 2011 for his incredible record of making DUI arrests. Patrolman Lightner no doubt has his own complaint about the way you have used his image. 

Please remove The Charleston Daily Mail’s photograph from your site.


Brad McElhinny