“Why don’t you have anything nice to say about the governor?”
A reader called our publisher last week to ask that question. She was someone who knew N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory personally and felt that the tide of editorials and opinion columns mentioning him were overwhelmingly negative and didn’t reflect the person she knows. She wanted some balance.
Let me be perfectly clear: I’ve never heard a negative thing about McCrory as a person, husband, father, neighbor, supervisor or co-worker.
He seems like a generally sunny, positive individual, as those who achieve public office tend to be.
I don’t doubt the sincerity of his intentions to improve life in the state overall.
I met McCrory briefly when he came to Lenoir for the ceremonial groundbreaking on Google’s most recent expansion. I will say with no hesitation that he seems like a genuinely likeable guy. He’s a little bit of a close-talker (the term popularized by Jerry Seinfeld for someone who stands uncomfortably close to you while talking to you), but I think he does that with the media because the TV people tend to push right up against him, so he assumes that’s what all media people want. (I’m guessing from watching how the TV crews crushed in around him in a way that, if I were McCrory, would make me highly claustrophic and fear being trampled.) Were we to meet informally on someone’s back deck, drinking beer and just talking sports and guy talk, we’d probably get along just fine.
That McCrory gets little positive press on the opinion page of the News-Topic, whether from local editorials or the editorials and columns we publish from other sources, is entirely a function of what opinion pages do and what has dominated the first seven months of McCrory’s tenure.
Editorials and opinion columns react to what is going on in the world. At the News-Topic, I have kept the opinion page focused mainly on events in North Carolina. And for most of the past seven months, events in North Carolina have been dominated by the General Assembly and McCrory because this is the first time Republicans control both branches of the legislature and the governor’s mansion.
The editorials we have run about legislation passed this year have not been all negative – most recently, an editorial from the Winston-Salem Journal that we ran on Friday praised the legislature, and the Senate and House leaders by name, for succeeding where their Democratic predecessors had been all talk and no action on providing a small measure of compensation for surviving victims of the state’s decades-long, brutal and immoral forced-sterilization program.
McCrory and the Republican leadership also have routinely won praise in columns we have run by writers for the John Locke Foundation and the Civitas Institute. (We run those columnists on Wednesdays and Fridays; on Tuesdays and Thursdays we run the left-leaning columnists; on Saturdays we have a column from publisher Terese Almquist; and on Sundays we have a column either from me or from someone taking a moderate or non-partisan stance.)
That most of the editorials and columns have been negative has far less to do with partisan politics than the nature of editorials and columns: Those who write opinion are far more likely to react strongly to changes with which they disagree than ones with which they agree, and nowadays Republicans are driving the change.
I was not writing editorials or opinion columns when Democrats such as Liston Ramsey, Marc Basnight and Jim Black ran the General Assembly, but I well remember the strong, negative editorial reactions that their actions and legislative shenanigans often prompted. And former Govs. Mike Easley and Bev Perdue likely do not get the warm fuzzies when thinking about how the state’s editorial writers and opinion columnists treated their administrations.
Now that the 2013 session of the General Assembly has adjourned, I expect you’ll see the editorials – our own as well as guest editorials from other publications – and opinion columns shifting their focus.
The governor does not adjourn, however, so he probably will keep popping up. But whether those items treat him positively or negatively, as the popular saying from “The Godfather” goes, it isn’t personal. It’s strictly business.