Charlotte Observer Reports That Staff Of Gov. Pat McCrory “Planted Questions,” Blocked Inquiries About Anti-LGBT Law
Blog ››› ››› ERIN FITZGERALD
Gov. Pat McCrory held a “business-group” lunch on September 15 that was supposed to include questions and answers from the media or audience. Instead, McCrory’s campaign staff were reportedly responsible for three “softball” questions that were falsely attributed to the Charlotte Observer, and then refused to allow the Observer’s real questions about HB 2.
In the immediate aftermath of the NCAA and ACC pulling events out of North Carolina because of HB 2, Gov. McCrory held a business lunch on September 15 where he purportedly answered questions submitted from media outlets attending the event. But according to a Charlotte Observer editorial page editor who attended the lunch, questions at the event actually came "from the governor's own staff," though the event moderator "portrayed [them] as coming from the audience and the Observer." The crowd at the event "was never told that many of them actually came from McCrory’s campaign.”
From the September 17 column:
With Hurricane HB2 blowing North Carolina’s doors off, Gov. Pat McCrory took questions in Charlotte last week – from himself.
McCrory’s staff planted questions at a lunch event in South Park on Thursday with the crowd under the impression that they were coming from the media or the audience. The moderator, a volunteer from the lunch audience, introduced three questions by saying they were from the Charlotte Observer.
He apologized to me afterward, saying it was his understanding all the questions on one of his sheets were from the Observer. In fact, they were from the governor’s own staff, an event organizer said.
Speakers at Hood Hargett Breakfast Club events routinely take questions from the floor. McCrory required that all questions be submitted in advance in writing.
When the moderator asked how to get started, McCrory said, “Anything you like. No filter here.” Sure, who needs a filter when you posed the questions yourself?
When I tried to ask McCrory a question, the filter went up. “We’ve got three Observer questions answered already. I think you guys dominate the news enough.”
Of course, those weren’t Observer questions. They were softballs from his staff about what he wanted to do with his next term; how he wanted to reduce the state’s rape kit backlog; and how the state crime lab performed under McCrory’s opponent, Roy Cooper.
When the event was over, McCrory did not meet with the throng of reporters who were there. He ducked out a side door and down a hall that led to a back exit. I followed him to try to ask him about HB2, but his staff blocked me.