As of this writing, the North Carolina gubernatorial race has yet to be decided. But it appears attorney general Roy Cooper (D) may be close to being able to legitimately declare himself the winner over incumbent GOP governor Pat McCrory. Unsurprisingly, the Charlotte Observer editorial board is ready to fly their “Mission Accomplished” banner. But the calls for a recount and questions about voter fraud from the McCrory campaign have delayed the struggling paper’s victory celebration, and as you can imagine, they aren’t happy about it.
In a scathing editorial from their Tuesday paper, the editorial board accused McCrory of “lacking grace” and “disrespecting democracy” because he opted to exercise his legal right to call for a recount instead of conceding, and because his campaign had the audacity to question the legitimacy of certain votes cast. From the editors:
He and his fellow scaremongers have disrespected democracy and honest election workers of both parties while slandering innocent North Carolina citizens by recklessly accusing them of felonies.
Let us be clear: There is no widespread voter fraud in North Carolina or America. In a state with 6.5 million registered voters, there may be a handful of wrongly registered felons or overzealous get-out-the-vote volunteers. But there is no evidence that thousands of N.C. voters are voting in two states, or that legions of dead people are voting.
What he doesn’t have a right to do is malign innocent voters with claims that he either knows are mirages or doesn’t care enough to vet.
It’s more than mildly hypocritical that the Observer, in a piece that rages about “maligning innocent voters”, does exactly that itself: Maligns innocent voters by smearing those concerned about election integrity in North Carolina as “scaremongers” simply on the basis that they’re conservatives like NC Civitas.
But the Charlotte Observer’s cognitive dissonance as it relates to “maligning voters” isn’t just confined to their screed that decries it. Let’s not forget their May editorial where the editors essentially told North Carolina women who worried about their safety and privacy rights to simply get over their feelings of “discomfort” regarding male genitalia in restrooms and locker rooms, and to stop allowing themselves to be backwards rubes manipulated by lawmakers:
— Sister Toldjah ? (@sistertoldjah) May 15, 2016
In September, Charlotte Observer editorial page editor, Taylor Batten, told North Carolina sexual assault and rape survivors and other concerned voters that HB2 was a “wedge issue” manufactured by Republican state legislators in an effort to appeal to their base (an assertion which, by the way, ignored the history of how the “bathroom bill” came into existence in the first place).
Voters, Batten stressed, were worried over “imaginary ghosts” aka the sexual predators who would never take advantage of policies or laws that made it easier for them to gain access to women and children (except they already have).
Perhaps the worst of the Observer’s smears against North Carolina voters came in an article penned by Charlotte Observer’s faith and values writer Tim Funk who, after the horrific Pulse nightclub massacre in June, suggested rhetoric from conservatives and GOP politicians over bathroom laws should be “toned down” – insinuating (falsely) that it might have had something do with the Orlando terrorist attack:
Will the bloody deaths of dozens of people in Orlando’s LGBT community change the politics ”“ or at least the tone of the political rhetoric ”“ in the state that gave the country HB2?
Will the debate about who can use which bathroom seem quaint after chilling narratives out of Orlando about gay men hiding in the bar’s bathroom in hopes of escaping the notice of a gun-wielding terrorist whose father told police he had been outraged at the sight of two men kissing?
For many Republicans, starting with Donald Trump, the main headline was that Mateen was a radical Islamist terrorist who had pledged allegiance to ISIS.
The detail many Republicans left out of their statements: The victims were gay.
Except Omar Mateen, the Islamic radical responsible for the killings, went about his murder spree while proclaiming allegiance to ISIS on 911 calls, and condemning the United States’ policies towards Iraq and Syria. In short, so-called “anti-LGBT rhetoric” from HB2 supporters and lawmakers had nothing to do with what happened in Orlando.
That the Charlotte Observer is waging war on Gov. McCrory and HB2 supporters is well-documented and not really up for debate. But it’s up to their NC readers to determine whose position is more grounded in reality: The “graceless” governor who wanted to make sure that a few hundred votes didn’t come from ineligible convicted felons, or the agenda-driven newspaper that believes the hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who don’t agree with its stances are clueless dolts who were somehow deviously complicit in the murders of 49 innocent people in a gay nightclub.
In the meantime, big decisions are likely coming in the days ahead regarding the Cooper vs. McCrory race. Stay tuned.