The Bert Ellis Feeding Frenzy

Piranhas

by James A. Bacon

Virginia has now entered the feeding frenzy stage of the assault on Bert Ellis’ character. Abandoning all journalistic standards of impartiality and fair play, mainstream media outlets compete with another to publish anything they can find to compromise Ellis, a member of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors appointed by Governor Glenn Youngkin and narrowly confirmed by the General Assembly.

Following a Washington Post piece yesterday that highlighted such transgressions as referring in private correspondence to a UVa employee as a “numnut,” Virginia Public Media has joined the fray. Among the new affrights uncovered through the Freedom of Information Act is the scoop that Ellis also referred to UVa administrators as “schmucks”!

It is laughable that anyone would deem such language used in personal communications to be worth publishing — as if no one else in public service speaks this way in private. Ironically, the only thing remarkable about Ellis’ use of language is how restrained it is. It is less vitriolic, for example, than the language used by Jeff Thomas, the leftist author who filed the FOIA request and peddled his findings to the media. VPM reporter Ben Paviour quotes Thomas as accusing “these people” of “lashing out with these venomous personal attacks at innocent people.”

Venomous? Really? Ellis didn’t “lash out” or “attack” anyone — these were private communications. The victims never knew about them…  until Thomas uncovered them and persuaded Paviour to publicize them!

Such are the New Rules of woke journalism.

But there’s more. Paviour included one exchange in his piece that had no business appearing in any article. The fact that he chose to include it exposes the shoddiness of his journalism. Here is what he wrote:

In one previously unreported exchange, several members of TJC appear to discuss an idea of recording a phone call with someone identified as “Gard,” — a reference to Richard Gard, the editor of UVA’s alumni magazine.

A July 1, 2022, text from a redacted phone number to several members of TJC, including James Bacon, Ann McLean, Walter Smith and Tom Neale, suggests Ellis record a phone call with Gard, which is legal under state law, and potentially release the recording to the media. The messages make it clear the person is upset at Gard, but it’s not clear from the messages what sparked their frustration.

“Every word Burt says should be spoken with the knowledge that he is preparing a record to persuade liberals and others who don’t like us but realize we are totally right on the merits,” the unidentified person wrote. “And if Burt loses his temper, raises his voice, or does anything unpleasant they might use this as an excuse to blame it on Bert, we could lose the war.”

The unidentified number says McLean should talk to the press because “She is great with the media, she is not an old white male, and she has a UVA PhD.”

“Agree with this,” McLean said in response. “I will do whatever TJC would like me to do.”

In an email, Bacon said the suggestion came from someone outside TJC.

“I can say categorically that the suggestion made by a third party to record Richard Gard’s phone call was never entertained by The Jefferson Council, that Bert Ellis never made such a call, and no such recording was ever made,” Bacon said.

Gard declined to comment.

Apparently, I was copied on that text message, although I have no recollection of it. Like many people, I am deluged with communications and don’t have time to read everything. What I can say with certainty is that the idea was floated — by whom, I cannot say because the identity was redacted — and it promptly died. We gave it no consideration.

Paviour dutifully tacked on my response to the exchange. But there was one thing he omitted: “There is no story here.”

Here’s the background. The Jefferson Council had submitted an advertisement  defending the reputation of Thomas Jefferson in regards to slavery and the Sally Hemings controversy for publication in Virginia, the University of Virginia Alumni Association publication. Gard rejected it on grounds that Jefferson Council members found specious but are too tangential to bother recounting here. We appealed the decision to Lily West, president of the alumni association, and she sided with Gard. We then appealed to members of the alumni association’s managing board but were likewise spurned. I assume that the exchange took place during that controversy.

Ellis was copied on a text thread. It bears noting that anyone can copy anyone else on a text thread. That doesn’t mean Ellis asked to be copied, and it doesn’t even mean that he read the text message. A redacted individual whose identity we do not know but are certain was not a governing member of the Council floated the idea of having Ellis secretly record Richard Gard’s phone call and “politely ask who made the decision while taping the call. Is there a change we can make that would make [the ad] acceptable?”

The idea was dead on arrival. No one pursued it. No call was ever made. When Ann McLean said she would “do whatever TJC (the Jefferson Council) would like me to do,” she was clearly referring to speaking to the press — not surreptitiously recording anyone’s phone call.

Bottom line: Ellis’ was copied on a text message in which someone made a suggestion upon which neither Ellis nor anyone else on the Jefferson Council leadership team followed up or even remembers.

Paviour was told this. He had no business introducing this meaningless text message into the public domain. Not only was this a private communication, it didn’t even come from Ellis! Yet by publishing it, even with my denial, Paviour created a suspicion that Ellis countenances deception and dirty tricks.

That itself is a dirty trick.

There are likely more dirty tricks to come. I can only hope that by setting the record straight I can shame Virginia journalists into acting responsibly.

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Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago

Good Luck Jim. I suspect any journalists (in Virginia or elsewhere) intent on the destruction of Bert Ellis’ reputation are shameless

Walter smith
Walter smith
1 year ago

“I can only hope that by setting the record straight I can shame Virginia journalists into acting responsibly.”
Come on, Jim. You know better than that!

James B Newman
James B Newman
1 year ago

Reading the unfortunate and “spun” comments from the Washington Post; I can not help but think about Secretary of State Henry L Stimson’s comment….” Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail”. This is a marvelous example of why we should not. Nothing positive is achieved by it.

louis
louis
1 year ago
Reply to  James B Newman

So you think we should shut down the National Security Agency at once because it is unseemly for us to read the communications of others? What a quaint notion.

angela box
angela box
1 year ago

Another great article uncovering the truth.

Wahoo'74
Wahoo'74
1 year ago

The misinformation campaign by the rabid dog media continues.

Jim Bacon, Bert Ellis, other TJC members and I attended UVA when the Honor System penalty was the single sanction and still enforced. We didn’t lie, cheat or steal then and we do not now. Bert and we disagreed with Mr. Gard’s decision, but we responded openly via phone calls and email. We would never resort to secretly taping a conversation with him to trick him into revealing something he thought was confidential.

Those are the tactics of the current crop of moral relativists who thrive under the “new” Honor System. Students are now allowed to return to the University after a two semester leave of absence subsequent to their Honor Code infractions.

The infamous Lawn resident Hira Azher in September 2020 violated her residential room contract to “uphold the traditions of the University” by posting her “F-UVA” sign on her door, then taped her subsequent phone call with President Ryan. Despite lying about her intent to uphold these traditions, she was never accused of any Honor Code violations and escaped any penalty.

Hira Azher lied but is “protected by her First Amendment rights” per the Administration and media. Bert Ellis and his Jefferson Council members are accused of taping a conversation, categorically deny they did, yet are still smeared by the media who assume they are lying.

The hypocrisy of Jeff Thomas and Ben Paviour is palpable.

Karen
Karen
1 year ago

“Others opinions of me is none of my business”. What a ridiculous use of a FOIA by that “journalist”. Bert has a responsibility as a member of the board to have opinions. That is why the board exists. If numnuts and schmucks have nothing better to write about, they are merely serving to divide and destroy. What responsibility do they bear? None. Yet they will attack those who are doing the hard work of building an institution worth attending.

Bobert
Bobert
1 year ago

This Ellis clown showed up at a student’s door on the Lawn with a razor because he took offense with their free speech. He’s an embarrassment to the university

Also Jefferson was a rapist

walter smith
walter smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Bobert

Wow. Such erudition!
Since you say Jefferson was a rapist (and you are the very picture of perfection), why don’t you insist on a debate at UVA about Jefferson?
It’s easy to slime dead people. What exactly have you done for the betterment of the world?
Do you work for the CavDaily or the ComPost?
Could it be possible that the objection was not to the immature Hira Azher’s opinion, which no one says she was not entitled to, but to the immature expression of it ON THE LAWN. A Lawn room is an honor. The tenants are expected to act like adults. Visitors from all over the world and prospective students walk there. Her “lease” was violated by her immature display. And, one of the few times I can say this, UVA’s housing decision with respect to Ms. Azher was correct. But Jim Ryan, as usual, was wrong in his handling.
All he had to do was condemn her manner of speaking. “This student’s display was wrong on the Lawn. The leases prohibit such signs on the doors. While she has every right to have her opinions, her sign displayed an incredible lack of respect for the honor accorded her and all visitors to our historic Grounds.”
See? That’s not hard…unless you agree with it, which I suspect he does!

Kieran
Kieran
1 year ago
Reply to  walter smith

Nice defense rapist apologist

walter smith
walter smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Kieran

Make your case. Let’s have a debate. Again, such brilliance! Call someone who disagrees a rape apologist. Are you a current student? Is this an example of the “Great” of “Great and Good?”

Kieran
Kieran
1 year ago
Reply to  walter smith

no, let’s not. I prefer to stay away from people who spend their time defending rapists, like you Walter.

Wahoo74
Wahoo74
1 year ago
Reply to  Kieran

Have the erudite children from the “Young Democrat-Socialists at UVA” joined our website discussions? What fun.

You’ll have to come up with something a tad more eloquent and fact based, kid.

Try again.

Kieran
Kieran
1 year ago
Reply to  Wahoo74

so you’re unaware Jefferson got Sally Hemmings pregnant when she was 14? Does that not make him a rapist? Or would u like to rewrite history? btw never was in YDSA, kid

Walter smith
Walter smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Kieran

I guess you “learned” that at the lying UVA Guides, tours? Other than not true…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPH-AEiRYuU

Kieran
Kieran
1 year ago
Reply to  Walter smith

Nope, I actually got it from the Monticello website itself! Here’s a link- https://www.monticello.org/thomas-jefferson/jefferson-slavery/thomas-jefferson-and-sally-hemings-a-brief-account/

Walter smith
Walter smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Kieran

And have you read the scholars’ report that concluded it was almost certainly not true that Jefferson fathered a Hemings child? Does the Monticello propaganda (why is Melody Barnes in charge?) say rape?
Is it “funny” the timing of Monticello saying Jefferson fathered a Hemings child? Personally, I don’t care if he did. And none of you Marxists do either. You just want to use it as a cudgel to destroy him. You have no interest in truth.
Monticello announced this at the same time that Bill Clinton was in big trouble for being a horn dog (which he was) and in conjunction with a big gift. Two problems solved – provide cover for Slick Willie (when your friends call you that, maybe people should understand why) and money for the cash-starved foundation.
seriously, come out. Let’s have a debate. Are you a “student?” If so, don’t you think Jim Ryan should sponsor a debate? I do.
But he won’t, because he knows, as do all honest scholars, that the vast preponderance of the evidence points to it being not true.

And again – I don’t care. All human beings are created in the image of God. Did you know radical Marxist Angela Davis has a Mayflower ancestor? How much of her is supposed to hate the white part of her? How did that happen? I have black relatives according to AncestryDNA. How did that happen? What about multi-racial kids today? Is the black half required to hate the white half?
No, all you people sell is hatred. Out yourself and demand a debate.

Wahoo74
Wahoo74
1 year ago
Reply to  Bobert

You’re both ignorant and wrong. That’s a bad combination, Bobert.

Clarity77
Clarity77
1 year ago

From the outset of Mr. Ellis’ nomination by Governor Youngkin to the BOV, the response on the left has been yes a form of feeding frenzy but in my view more that of hysteria. And now a further grasping at straws to attempt to sway opinion. This only serves to say more about them than about Mr. Ellis. Mr. Ellis’ stature grows in his measured and calm ways in the face of this while they only diminish themselves. Pathetic fools who do not reflect well as to that which would best serve our University.

Wahoo'74
Wahoo'74
1 year ago
Reply to  Clarity77

Clarity77, thank you. You nailed it.

Walter smith
Walter smith
1 year ago

Ah…the mad down voter has appeared again!
How dare anyone disagree with Jim Ryan, the Great and Good!
UVA was a moral he!!hole founded by a slave rapist of no repute and Messiah Jim has come to make amends and heal the world with his own enlightened Ivy justice…
Of course, he does seem to enjoy the making over $1 million a year while refusing to defend the Founder…and he could lower his pay to help all the “marginalized” he claims to care for.
Kind of “funny” how all those leaders who seem to have Marxist beliefs sure do like those exorbitant paychecks

Legacy Grad
Legacy Grad
1 year ago

Where does such sickness of the heart come from to publish vicious smears & falsehoods? Are these writings projections of self hatred? We have ugly historic precedents aplenty.

Bob Jackson
Bob Jackson
11 months ago

Write: private emails, showing and revealing his character.