July 4, 2010
Rolling over for Hartsell, Perdue
Posted by Rick Henderson at 1:35 PM
Charlotte Observer associate editor and Raleigh-based columnist Jack Betts calls Cabarrus County GOP Sen. Fletcher Hartsell's subpoena of UNC-TV "both appalling and brilliant." Appalling because "many believe" he has launched "an unprecedented invasion of the editorial process of a news organization in North Carolina."
And the brilliance? "[H]is intervention has sparked much more public interest into forthcoming news reports about Alcoa Power Generating, Inc. and its industrial operations' impact on the Yadkin River. It has all but guaranteed a far larger audience for UNC TV's findings than would have occurred."
Yeah, Jack, it's all about the ratings.
Moreover, to my knowledge, no media organization other than Carolina Journal has gotten (or reported, anyway) the Perdue administration's views on how UNC-TV, an executive branch agency, should respond to the subpoenas of General Manager Tom Howe and legislative reporter Eszter Vajda.
From my report published Friday:
A spokesman for Gov. Bev Perdue said that the governor "trusted that any information deemed to be a public record would be turned over" by UNC-TV.
Editorial independence? Freedom of the press? Not such a big deal if the station is reporting on an issue the governor deems important.
If UNC-TV complies with the subpoena, it's not a whole lot different than an extension of the General Assembly's press operations. (Or the governor's. Or both.)
Betts has made no secret that he supports the state's proposed takeover of Alcoa's hydroelectric dams and adjacent property.
Wonder what he would have said had Hartsell subpoenaed McClatchy's reporting on another issue he personally supports. Would he consider that brilliant, too?
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