A few months ago, The Chronicle’s publisher wrote an opinion piece stating that Republicans seem to think that The Chronicle newsroom is pro-Democrat and the Democrats think the newsroom is pro-Republican. What's different about The Chronicle news staff from a lot of the media nationally is that they aren't on either team. They are not writing stories to help one side or hurt the other.
Joe Kent doesn't get this yet.
He's used to being warmly received by one portion of the media and attacked by the other. He wants The Chronicle to be on his side. But our newsroom’s staff isn't on a side. Our newspaper isn't Joe Kent's friend or his enemy. We aren't here to help him or to hurt him. Our journalists are here to report what happens and give all sides of the story.
And that's what happened last year when our staff was covering a Kent campaign event in Onalaska.
Kent's meeting was attended by a group of people from Idaho who Kent now identifies as "white nationalists." One of them argued that immigration should be stopped because it creates "demographic replacement." That term refers to a race-based claim, also known as “white replacement theory,” that, in time, whites will be a minority in this country.
The Chronicle news staff reported on the exchange accurately. Here is what appeared in the March 11, 2022, news article:
Vincent James then pushed the question again, saying, "So a complete shutdown on all immigration for the next 20 years, at the very least. Right?"
Kent responded: "Yep. That's one of the best ways to keep a tight labor market in favor of American workers."
James replied: "Well, not only because of labor, because of the demographic replacement that's happening in this country as well, right?"
Kent responded: "Yeah."
We know this is what was said in this exchange because our staff recorded it. You can listen here. We also know it is accurate because one of the people attending posted a video. A year and a half later, Kent hired a California law firm to threaten a lawsuit unless The Chronicle retracted the story.
But we can't retract truthful reporting. Kent said that in response to the white nationalists questioning about demographic replacement.
The same article from March of last year also contained some quotes from Kent and his supporters that were in opposition to the positions of the white nationalists.
Here is more from our story last year:
At one point, one of the men from Idaho asked: "Will America be worse off after white people cease to be a majority in this country? Yes or no?"
Kent responded: "I reject that entire premise, man. That's not what this country is. We need sovereign Americans, and that's it."
Other meeting attendees were vocally opposed to the stance taken by the six Fuentes supporters. One said they were taking up valuable time that actual 3rd District voters could be using to speak with their candidate. A member of the Lewis County Young Republicans told The Chronicle they did not want to be associated with the radical visitors, and attendees throughout the venue called out to the group: "be respectful," "we're all Americans" and "race doesn't matter."
Today, Americans are used to seeing the media take one political side or the other and then publish articles supporting their partisan bias. Those stories are hostile to one side. But the truth about what candidates from both parties say and do is almost always a mix of positive and negative. Our March 2022 story was the truth. There were statements by Kent published in our article that could be taken as positive and negative by people on both sides of the political fence.
Joe Kent doesn't get that The Chronicle news staff isn't there just to print the positive and ignore the negative. As our March 2022 article proves, our news staff accurately publishes what candidates say. The reader might take Kent's "yeah" response to the question about demographic replacement and conclude that Kent was endorsing the key plank of the white supremacists. Or they may read the later response where Kent says he rejects the premise that America will be worse off if we are no longer white majority and decide that Kent's views are not fully contained in that "yeah."
It's Kent's job to explain his views. It's The Chronicle's job to accurately report what he says. And that is exactly what we did here. We presented what he said at that meeting so the public can decide.
If Kent's "yeah" was not clear, or did not fully reflect his view in relation to the white supremacists at that meeting, that's on him. He would be better advised to take personal responsibility for his words and not blame the news source that accurately quoted them.