Going after the media, N.C. style

Pat McCrory might be joining other Republicans and launching a new offensive on media.
Pat McCrory might be joining other Republicans and launching a new offensive on media. AP

Seems like Gov. Pat McCrory, who faces a tough reelection fight in 2016, wants in on the hot new trend among Republican candidates.

We got an inkling of it Monday morning at the Carolina Freedom Foundation breakfast, an annual patriotic event McCrory attends each year in Charlotte. There, the governor told a familiar story about Paul, a relative who fought in Vietnam and was a hero to a young McCrory.

Paul, like many Vietnam vets, got a hostile reception when he arrived back home in Washington state. It’s a powerful story, especially for the audience at hand Monday, but this year McCrory added another group to the list that were ugly to vets like Paul: Editorial boards.

Editorial boards?

We’re certain that 1960s editorials were critical of the Vietnam war, but we’d be surprised if editorials were critical of the soldiers returning home. We’d guess that McCrory would be hard-pressed to come up with examples of that, as well.

No matter. It was one line in one Monday morning speech, right? Then, a couple of hours later, the governor tweeted this:

We’ll save you a click: The link was to a post from an NFL fan and occasional contributor to the fan-driven site Bleacher Report about how Cam Newton would never make it as an NFL quarterback.

That said, we DO get things wrong sometimes on the editorial page. Like when we told our readers McCrory would be a moderate governor.

(McCrory apparently thought more of newspaper opinions then.)

So what’s going on here? In part, this is the same McCrory everyone has long known – the one who’s a little thinner-skinned than most politicians. He’s probably also still feeling the sting from a recent flurry of reports and editorials detailing his latest ethical lapse involving N.C. prison contracts.

But here’s another clue: Although we’d already seen the governor’s tweet Monday morning, we got a heads up about it shortly after in an email from the NCGOP.

Seems as if someone is spoiling for a fight. Why? Because it works. Republican candidates for president got their biggest applause lines at last month’s CNBC debates when they bashed some questionable questioning and the media as a whole. One of those candidates, Ted Cruz, subsequently declared “war” on the media and raised a quick $1.1 million.

One more example: After a weekend of scrapping with media over holes in his personal story, Ben Carson ranked highest among all Republican candidates in favorability in a Washington Post/ABC poll this morning.

That’s not a bad strategy in North Carolina, either, and it fits with McCrory’s desire to position himself as a candidate who stands up to extremist conservatives and liberal editorial boards. The former hasn’t happened often, but the latter will play well with Republicans and others.

Peter St. Onge