Well before Gov. Pat McCrory was sworn into office, the leftist mainstream press battered him for not being bipartisan enough. Every liberal group in North Carolina, whether so identified or not, was trotted out by reporters to criticize McCrory’s cabinet appointments as ‘right wing’ or ‘conservative’ – as if either label is a bad thing.
In contrast, Perdue’s ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’ appointees, no matter how incompetent, were never criticized in so derogatory a manner. Nor was Perdue herself, though her policies were so unpopular she abandoned her re-election campaign midstream.
To the press, it was acceptable for Perdue to give away millions of dollars in state property and leave us $2.4 billion in debt to the federal government. She could inexplicably give a pardon of innocence to convicted criminals and audaciously appoint her political cronies to judgeships. Yes, she did all of this her last week in office, but so what? It’s within her prerogative.
The same won’t hold true for a Republican governor so it’s time we follow the news with antennas up. Press coverage will now be different. Perdue was hyper-partisan, defied the people with vetoes of voter ID, medical malpractice reform and regulatory reform, to name a few, and followed her own prerogatives. Liberal reporters defended her to the hilt and if conservatives complained, they were just complainers.
As McCrory pushes his agenda to get North Carolina moving in the right direction again, watch out for the screeching to start. He will become a heartless, right wing nut-job intent on destroying education, kicking the poor out on the street and hurting children. Political cartoons and editorials will run daily about how ‘conservative’ he is and how the tea party controls him. The scripts are prepared, they just need a few ‘facts’ to complete them.
The hue and cry will abound as McCrory fulfills his campaign promises. Forget that he won the governorship with an overwhelming 58 percent of the popular vote and will do what he promised to do. There won’t be praise for him in the mainstream press, only condemnation and calls for him to moderate his positions. The Raleigh News and Observer advised McCrory to seek guidance from former liberal Governor Jim Hunt. Seriously!
So what is a Republican governor to do? He can bravely advance his agenda or back down under pressure like President George H.W. Bush did when he wimped-out on his “Read my lips, no new taxes” pledge.
Pat McCrory is no wimp. He knows how to fight political battles and win. His political strengths were shown time and again during his 14 years as Charlotte’s mayor. He has the capacity to take punches and keep standing.
For what it’s worth, here’s some advice to our new governor: ignore the liberal press. Times have changed in North Carolina and the country. Politicians are still newshounds, but the average voter is not. The public is watching sports, reality TV, surfing the Internet and posting on Facebook. Newspaper readership is at an all-time low and going lower. Local newscasts prefer juicy crime stories and other sordid events to fill programming slots, with a political story thrown in every now and then.
Since the Emperor (the mainstream press) has no clothes, McCrory should take his case directly to people across the Tar Heel State. He should also raise money and promote his agenda through radio and television advertising. McCrory can tell the public exactly what he’s doing and why it’s good for North Carolina. He should engage in social media, talking directly to the citizens. The mainstream press will do what it wants despite his best efforts to reason with them. He should remember that in today’s world, the mainstream press counts for less and less.
Thom Goolsby is a state senator, practicing attorney and law professor. He is co-chairman of both Senate Judiciary 1 and Justice and Public Safety committees.