After all these years, the N&O still can't quit Art Pope

After reading Jim Morrill's article on Thom Tillis this morning, I found myself having deja vu all over again. Could it be possible that the McClatchy news organization in North Carolina is still a wholly owned subsidiary of Variety Wholesalers?

Back in 2006, I reported on the wide gulf between how the the then-independent Charlotte Observer and the News and Observer used Art Pope's Puppetshow for news stories. At the time, the differences were striking and disturbing. Fast forward eight years, with the two papers now under McClatchy ownership, and you'd think things would have improved. And you'd be wrong.

This table shows the number of mentions of various people and organizations on the pages of the N&O and Charlotte Observer. It dashes the myth of the so-called liberal media in North Carolina. Right-wing propaganda finds its way into the paper at four or five time the rate of left-wing propaganda. Call it Stockholm Syndrome, call it making friends. But what ever you call it, it's not an accurate reflection of reality. It is a reflection of undue influence.

Art Pope still rules the pages of the N&O. From excessive reliance on his think tanks to a near shut-out of liberal voices, the picture is not much less disturbing today than it was when eight years ago, when ombudsman Ted Vaden characterized the Show as a multimillion dollar opinion-manufacturing machine.

You'll hear lots of rationalizations for this bias, everything from "fair and balanced" to "they're newsmakers" and more. It's baloney. The News and Observer has the resources and the independence to make whatever news judgments it wants. It's choosing to rely on Pope sources.

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A note on methodology. These numbers came from online searches using quotes around the search term on the News and Observer and Charlotte Observer websites. The search was limited to the past 12 months. The method is imprecise, but from experience, it's a pretty good approximation of how what regular readers are seeing.

Comments

Considering how many times

the puppets have been wrong over the years, and how many times they've flip-flopped on their "expert" opinions about government since the GOP took control, their credibility as a go-to source has all but disappeared. There is simply no rationale for using them anymore, so it must be money.

Funny

Some guy on Facebook said ... seriously ... "I'm not sure how much stock I'd put in a survey that said Art Pope is governor."

Really? That's his main takeaway from the chart? Sheesh.

Also know as

Gov. McClatchy?

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"What I see from the folks who are opposing our agenda is whining coming from losers." -- Thom Tillis

Contrarianism is in vogue

I'm not saying the dude's a contrarian, but he is a photographer, so... Contrarianism runs deep amongst their breed. :)

You don't have to look far for like-minded souls

FAN-F'ING-TASTIC!!!!

You wrote your 2006 post during my first full year as a NJ transplant. A friend of mine moved to Cary from Jersey around 30 years ago and convinced me to move here after my job was outsourced and too burnt out to start the new career I would need to survive there.

This state was a whole lot bluer when we unpacked our last box, and I swear on the GW Bridge I had nothing to do with its sharp turn to the right. It wasn't until election season of 2012, though, that I had gotten so fed up with the political scene, that I started my letter-to-the-editor assault on the N&O, mostly concerning Art Pope. Nothing was seeing ink.

You've all been hearing about The Star-Ledger's coverage of the Chris Christie shenanigans. That's the paper I grew up with. For me, its the benchmark. Headquartered roughly 50 miles north of Trenton, they reported on the capital like it was in their own backyard. Like today's bridge scandal, nothing ever got past them.

Totally the opposite of the N&O, where Quarles and Barnett can practically reach out their windows and tap Pope on the shoulder. No one would expect NY Times caliber journalism from them, but, fer chrissakes, what a disgrace!

Getting nowhere with the N&O, I wrote to Ned Barnett on 8/5/2013 asking why I was being ignored while the same letter writers were published time and time again. His following reply sums his hypocrisy up pretty well:

Dear Mr. Levitt,

Thanks for your letter. I'm not familiar with all your submissions, but I did note that a recent one seemed more name-calling than illuminating. At (sic) Pope is a public figure, but that shouldn't mean he's fair game for whatever anyone wants to say about him in the letters or op-ed pages.

Your letters and op-ed submissions stand a better chance of being published if they refer to recent news coverage or bring forth new information or perspectives. Referring to political aides and allies as "henchmen" and Pope's "greed driven, privatize-everything-in-my-path, free-market ideology" are overstatements that undermine your case.

Please submit more for our consideration, but know that when it comes to making a point it's better to cast light than heat.

Regards,

Ned Barnett

Despite that, I've been keeping up every since. And, once in a blue moon, I get published. But this underscores my extreme pleasure with BlueNC. Here, I get to speak my mind without the scrutiny of paid hacks whose mission in life is to sell enough advertising to keep their corporate benefactors neck deep in off-shore bank accounts.

I proudly added BlueNC to my blogroll, and, a link to this fine post, for all those countless millions following my, soon to be, critically acclaimed Steve Levitt Blog. All bids will be considered.

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"Let's not be too rough on our own ignorance; it's what makes America great!" - Frank Zappa (6/29/1988)

Translation

Dear Mr. Levitt,

Thanks (not really) for your letter. I didn't bother to look at any of your submissions, but I did note that a recent one is just the kind of thing that would really get Art ("At" for short) Pope really upset. He's surprisingly sensitive, and I hear about it every time someone says something about him in the letters or op-ed pages that implies that he is less than impeccable.

Your letters and op-ed submissions stand a better chance of being published if they refer to puppies or sparkleponies. Referring to political aides and allies as "henchmen" and Pope's "greed driven, privatize-everything-in-my-path, free-market ideology" is exactly the kind of thing that is entirely true, but really sets off Mr. Pope. I already have damage in one ear from one of his previous phone calls.

Please submit more for our consideration, but know that just because it's true doesn't mean we'll publish it.

Regards,

Ned (Nd for short) Barnett

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"What I see from the folks who are opposing our agenda is whining coming from losers." -- Thom Tillis

Do you have a preference

between a Pulitzer and a Nobel prize for literature? Not sure we have time to prepare both nominations.

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"What I see from the folks who are opposing our agenda is whining coming from losers." -- Thom Tillis

Cash please...

I wanna buy me some uh-dat good ol' American Free Speech.

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"Let's not be too rough on our own ignorance; it's what makes America great!" - Frank Zappa (6/29/1988)

Lazy Mother Fuc@#%$

at the N&O? You know not. While I don't hold Frank Daniels in the highest regard, he seemed ( and I use that word lightly) to implore on the backs of his daddy et al, a newspaper that catered to a large segment of North Carolina with both important and relevant information. No more. He and his family sold out (with one of his offspring now writing for the Tennessean), and continue to provide useless bullshit; especially online.

Now sucking the teet of McClatchy, the N&O only answers to shareholders; many who couldn't decipher the difference between an important story and a straight flush. In regard to Little Boy Pat McPope, just imagine the amount of shoe leather that has been saved.