Deconstructing a Hit-Piece on the Lawyer Defending a USNA Midshipman Against the Cancel Culture

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

That the cancel culture is alive and well and part of the mission of the leadership at the US Naval Academy is undeniable, as my article Monday discussed. Midshipman First Class Chase Standage is inches away from being expelled for supposedly “racist tweets” he made defending the police and expressing his First Amendment rights to protected political speech (i.e., personal opinions) during a week in June when American cities were aflame with violent riots conducted by Black Lives Matter and Antifa criminals. Oh, and BOTH of MIDN Standage’s parents are officers of the Los Angeles Police Dept., too.

In my Monday article, I promised there would be follow-on pieces to examine the lawsuit being brought by MIDN Standage against the Secretary of the Navy and Superintendent of the US Naval Academy, a suit backed by his parents who want nothing more than to see their son reinstated, and to enable him to achieve his life’s dream of serving as a pilot in the US Navy. This article will debunk an item posted by the Capital Gazette, an Annapolis-based media outlet. That posting is basically a hit-piece on the lawyer representing MIDN Standage – Jeffrey McFadden (USNA Class of 1979). It adheres to the typical leftwing media template, not to mention Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals:

  • When the facts don’t support the case being made (in this case, that MIDN Standage is guilty of “racism”), then attack the messenger instead (i.e., his lawyer)
  • Pick the target (Standage’s lawyer), freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it (Alinsky)

Let us deconstruct a few items from that Capital Gazette posting. Here is the lead sentence from that article:

The attorney representing a California midshipman facing expulsion over racist tweets has a long history with the Naval Academy, including previously defending a midshipman separated over racist language.

Hmmm. Planting the presumption up front that there’s something “not right” with this attorney – which is essentially the author’s main theme. I guess she would imply that lawyers who believe in the process and the rule of  law, and who repeatedly represent people in the kangaroo court that is the Academy’s Administrative Conduct System who are ultimately convicted of their “crimes” despite their best efforts are somehow “dirty,” too. The next sentences are equally misleading:

Midshipman 1st Class Chase Standage’s lawsuit against the Naval Academy superintendent and secretary of the Navy may only list two defendants, but in trying to prove Standage’s First and Fifth Amendment rights were violated, attorney Jeffrey McFadden has brought in several members of the Naval Academy community. That includes the commandant’s daughter, as evidence of a “culture war” that sees the academy adopting tenets of Black Lives Matter and anti-racism.

Surely, she could have inquired about the daughter’s tweets and their importance with a little “investigative journalism.” As noted in my story on Monday:

The Commandant had to recuse himself because of some extraordinary social media posts made by his 14 year-old daughter which, among other things,  the identify herself with ACAB (“All Cops Are Bastards”), call for the abolition of ICE, endorse Antifa, retweets a post by the ANTIFA hacker cell Anonymous that “Mango Mussolini” (the President) can go f*** himself, and retweets another post that says “f*** the police.” One of her followers is her father, the Commandant. The Commandant also had a Commandant’s Call [a gathering of the entire Brigade of Midshipmen for the purposes of disseminating information determined important by the Command] in which he recited the BLM anti-racist credo that it was not enough to be “not racist;” all midshipmen had to be “anti-racist” and actively speak out against racism.

Now, if the Capital Gazette journalist was truly objective, she would have investigated and discovered that there were very real reasons for discussing the Commandant’s daughter in the lawsuit! It is called “evidence” that substantiates the claims made in the lawsuit, the last time I checked.

Then comes a short paragraph that glosses over more key information:

McFadden, who is the lead attorney on the case, is a Naval Academy alumnus, a 1979 graduate. Over the years, he has stayed connected to his alma mater, often criticizing what he sees as the changing culture.

First of all, McFadden isn’t simply “a Naval Academy alumnus” and member of the Class of 1979. He is in fact a distinguished graduate, a Trident scholar, a former deputy brigade commander, a Rhodes scholarship finalist, and first in his class as a humanities/social sciences major. While on active duty, he became a “surface nuke” (a nuclear-trained surface warfare officer) and was the honor graduate in his surface warfare officer school class. To cite just a few items from his career as a lawyer after leaving active duty, he represented former Secretary of State George Shultz before the Iran-Contra Prosecutor, represented John Meriwether in a shareholders derivative suit arising out of the Salomon Brothers Treasury auction scandal, was a senior member of the legal team that conducted the Enron investigation on behalf of the Special Litigation Committee of the Board of Directors of Enron, and was recalled to active duty to serve on the personal staff of SECNAV Jim Webb as Special Assistant and Speechwriter. It is only in the last three years that he has represented more than 70 USNA midshipmen and several ROTC cadets in various conduct, honor, aptitude, and criminal matters. He also represented naval officers ranging from ensigns to vice admirals.

It sure seems like Attorney McFadden was more than the implied “ambulance chaser” and habitual criticizer of the (undefined) “changing culture” at USNA that the article made him out to be. As Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I would argue that McFadden is one of those good men. That he has grown concerned about the declining standards and undermining of traditions is certainly not unique to him; I can cite dozens of alumni who are at least as concerned about the creeping cancel culture takeover of USNA as he is – if not more so. And that’s a damn good thing!

To cherry-pick just one more item from the Capital Gazette hit-piece:

[MIDN Standage’s] tweets contain racist statements, including that Taylor received justice when she was killed, call for military action against protesters, often labeled as belonging to antifa, an umbrella term for leftist groups that resist neo-Nazis and white supremacists through measures that can include violence, and comments about police force.

That’s quite the hodge-podge of junk intended to convey that MIDN Standage is “racist.” The Breonna Taylor-related claim that Standage’s tweets were “racist” needs to be evaluated in light of what the Kentucky attorney general reported out on his investigation into the shooting, as noted here. And the author’s defense of Antifa is indefensible! That’s not what Antifa is about, and any objective journalist knows better. Antifa is a militant organization seeking change of America’s institutions through violence.

Nowhere in the Capital Gazette article (or indeed ANY article it has run on MIDN Standage) are the ACTUAL offending tweets from MIDN Standage discussed. Maybe that is because it is the actual responses to his tweets from other midshipmen and former midshipmen (who are now commissioned officers in the Navy) that are the tweets that are actually vicious, disgusting, and downright racist. Here are a couple of examples of Standage’s “offending tweets,” as well as those from others from the exhibits presented in Standage’s lawsuit that the Capital Gazette reporter glibly glossed over.

A Standage tweet on the Breonna Taylor matter (he is “Cheese Sandwich”):

Another Standage tweet (in reply to a tweet from the President about unchecked rioting in Seattle):

Keep in mind that the photo above is an actual photo taken through the Forward-Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) camera of a National Guard jet flying over Seattle during the Seattle riots. It’s not as though MIDN Standage is cutting and pasting military photos into his tweets. This is a FACT – period. How is that “racist” or out of line? Reminds me of the fake furor over Sarah Palin’s cross-hairs on an electoral map back in 2008 about which the legacy media went bonkers?  Meanwhile, here is a truly vile tweet during the same time period from a member of USNA Class of 2019 who identifies himself in another post as a former Navy athlete that apparently is okay with the Navy’s cancel culture police:

And here is a retweet from a current member of the Navy football team who is MIDN Standage’s Command Managed Equal Opportunity (CMEO) officer, and who provided a witness statement expressing his opinion as to the offensiveness of MIDN Standage’s tweets. Note that his retweet associates the President with the Ku Klux Klan (a violation of Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice):

These are just a few of the dozens of tweets presented in the exhibits that demonstrate the complete lack of integrity of the process that led to MIDN Standage’s pending expulsion. Now wouldn’t these facts be of interest to a supposedly “neutral journalist” in her article? But of course, that was not her intent at all. Her intent was to smear both MIDN Standage and his attorney through misrepresentation, innuendo, incomplete reporting, obfuscation of the facts, and fitting the “facts” into the narrative, i.e., that MIDN Standage was a racist, and his lawyer was nothing but an ambulance-chaser in a pin-striped suit standing in the way of “cultural progress” at USNA.

There is a ton more that could be debunked in that Capital Gazette article, but frankly it’s not worth my time in doing so or yours in reading about it. Suffice it to say that Capital Gazette is in the vanguard of the legacy media in supporting the cultural Marxist objectives of the Black Lives Matter crowd, and this hit-piece is just the latest example of how they are trying to support the cause while misinforming and misleading their readers.

And that’s standard fare for the legacy media these days, as we have learned over and over during the Age of Trump.

The end.