CNN reporter Eva McKend repeated a questionable claim early Wednesday morning that critical race theory (CRT) was not being taught in Virginia's public schools despite the phrase appearing multiple times on the Virginia Department of Education website and a number of instances of its promotion by officials in the state.
McKend made the claim following Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin's victory speech after his win over Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia's closely watched gubernatorial election, attributing the former's win to his capitalization on the issue.
"Republicans who have long felt as though the governor’s mansion was out of reach, just elated tonight," McKend said as she reported from Youngkin's campaign headquarters in Chantilly, Virginia.
She mentioned that Youngkin was able to broadly appeal to all types of Republicans, including moderates and supporters of former President Trump, as well as disaffected Democrats.
"I do think that it's worth noting, though, that in the last several weeks, this issue of critical race theory, even though it is not being taught in Virginia public schools, it became so core in this race," McKend added. "And Youngkin mentioned it in every stump speech. It was his loudest applause line, that he was going to ban it, even though it was not being taught in Virginia public schools."
"But he didn’t mention it tonight. He didn’t mention CRT or Dr. King, only a mention of charter schools. Surprising, because it was an issue that he used in recent weeks to really rally people and turn out voters, but it wasn’t mentioned this evening in his victory speech," she said.
Despite the claim, there have been a number of well-documented instances of CRT's promotion within the state, including a presentation that appeared to be sponsored by the Virginia Department of Education in 2015.
In 2019, a memo sent by a superintendent promoted CRT and the idea of "White fragility," while another endorsed "Foundations of Critical Race Theory in Education" as an important "tool" that can "further spur developments in education."
This year, education officials in Loudoun County, Virginia, acknowledged that critical race theory influences their work. It was also revealed that a Virginia school district spent over $30,000 on critical race theory training for administrators.
Pundits and the media have largely relied on an "incredibly limited definition" of CRT, media watchdog NewsBusters argued, one that focuses on "a high-level study examining the intersection between race and other cultural forces."
Youngkin's win adds a new roadblock to proponents of CRT, appearing to show that parents and voters concerned about education are not in step with its further implementation.
Fox News' Brian Flood, Cortney O'Brien, Jessica Chasmar and Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this report.