CNN's Brian Stelter and The Grio vice president Natasha Alford scoff at the idea of parental rights, suggesting it's just a political "slogan." They also warn viewers: "When the top issue is called 'education,' the top issue is race," Stelter declared with finger quotes.

 CNN's Brian Stelter takes a look at how the media can latch onto a slogan instead of presenting the full story, which he says Republicans have used to their advantage in recent elections.

Virginia voters told liberal media networks who were curious about their votes last week that they flocked to the polls to vote for Youngkin as a means of pushing back against their school districts' progressive agendas. In the lead up to Election Day, parents had spoken out more regularly about graphic material in classrooms, and against the use of critical race theory (CRT), a curriculum that teaches students U.S. institutions are inherently racist.

Stelter, however, said the terms "parents' rights" and "critical race theory" have become little more than a "slogan" or a "catchall phrase." The segment was accompanied by the chyron, "Cheap Slogans Disguise Stories That Are Shaping America."

Stelter and his "Reliable Sources" panelists concluded Sunday that the contest just held in Virginia wasn't a battle over education, but race.

CNN political analyst Natasha Alford, vice president of The Grio, argued it was an "old debate," one that hearkens back to the days of when school board meetings used to revolve around the busing of schoolchildren from the city to the suburbs. 

"These are America's issues with race and identity and the sort of this moral outrage that just gets repackaged for a new era," she argued.

"Hold on, so you're saying when the top issue is called ‘education,’ the top issue is race," Stelter said. Mirroring MSNBC's Joy Reid, Stelter used air quotes when using the word education.

"It's actually race," Alford agreed. "And it is our jobs as journalists to provide that historical context, so that our readers just don't take that headline and say parents' rights."

Reid had a similar response to McAuliffe's defeat last week, calling the definition of education, "code for White parents who don't like the idea about teaching about race."

Other pundits like MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace said CRT "isn't real." Several progressive figures argued the theory isn't present in public schools, despite the phrase "Critical Race Theory" appearing on the Virginia Department of Education website.

Voters told CNN and MSNBC that McAuliffe "hurt" himself during the campaign when he said during his debate against Youngkin that parents should not have a say in their kids' education. 

"I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach," McAuliffe said, a soundbite which proceeded to show up in several Youngkin campaign ads.

Some Democrats have acknowledged their party took a few wrong turns on the issue of education in Virginia. Former Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, for instance, said on MSNBC that Democrats can't let the GOP become the "party of the parents."

"The one thing that we need to make sure of is that Republicans in 2022 don’t become is the party of parent, because we need to be the party of the parents," Cutter said.

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