She's the nation's first black female billionaire, a co-founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET) whose political contributions skew heavily Democratic, and in 2005 she backed the now outgoing-Democratic Gov.Tim Kaine's bid for office. But now Sheila C. Johnson has crossed the aisle to endorse Republican Bob McDonnell in his bid to be Virginia's chief executive, arguing that he has a better grasp on economic issues than his Democratic opponent.
Yet in reporting the news of the endorsement, the Washington Post elected to leave any word of Johnson's endorsement from its Metro front page headline. Instead, the Post blandly offered readers this headline and subheader:
Business Leaders Are Major Prize In Va. Race: McDonnell, Deeds Seek Credibility Among Execs
Indeed, in her July 21 story, staffer Rosalind Helderman pitted McDonnell's newsworthy endorsement against a "competing" announcement from the camp of McDonnell's Democratic opponent:
Meanwhile, Democratic state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (Bath) rolled out an economic plan designed to show that he will continue a business-friendly approach to governing. The proposal includes tax credits for companies that create jobs and a fund to provide loans to small businesses in depressed rural parts of the state. He was joined in Roanoke by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who has stepped in as Deeds's chief salesman within the business community, particularly among those who backed Warner's bid for governor in 2001.
Wow, exciting. On one hand, McDonnell gets the endorsement of a pretty solidly Democratic black businesswoman -- Helderman noted that Johnson "has given more than $600,000 to Kaine since 2000, making her the governor's second-largest individual donor" -- and Deeds who, well, he rolled out to rural Virginia with a new position paper and a former Democratic governor as his trail buddy.
For its part, the hometown paper of Gov. Kaine, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, noticed the real story here. Its headline today reads "Top Kaine donor Sheila Johnson endorses McDonnell."