Missing Connection: WRAL and Blueprint NC, $1.7 million in support

When reporting on Blueprint NC’s leaked documents, WRAL was all over the story, with one exception: It somehow failed to mention in any of its stories that the owners of the station are deeply entangled with the left-wing group and some of its allies.

A strategy memo  from liberal policy group Blueprint North Carolina details the game plan of how a coalition of non-profits will “attack” elected officials in North Carolina. The Charlotte Observer broke the story and included these excerpts:

  • “Crippling their leaders (McCrory, Tillis, Berger etc.).”
  • “Eviscerate the leadership and weaken their ability to govern.”
  • “Pressure McCrory at every public event.”
  • “Slam him when he contradicts his promises.”
  • “Private investigators and investigative reporting, especially in the executive branch…”

Later that day WRAL put reporter Mark Binker’s story about Blueprint NC online. But in its story WRAL left out important information about its long-running connection to Blueprint and to many of the organizations which comprise the Blueprint NC network. In a quick blog post last week I explained there was a deep and long connection between the Goodmon family-controlled Capitol Broadcasting and Blueprint NC and other activist liberal groups. WRAL is only one part of a media conglomerate. Capitol owns TV stations, radio stations and new media companies across North Carolina, plus other properties.

Also, the Goodmon family has four family members on the nine-member board of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation. According to the group’s web site, this includes Barbara Goodmon, the President; Jim Goodmon, the Chairman of the Board; and two Goodmon sons. The Executive Director of the Fletcher Foundation was formerly the head of the NC Center for Voter Education, which was an original Blueprint NC member. While the exact amount is hard to determine, the Fletcher Foundation has directly funded Blueprint NC and has given at least $1.7 million to Blueprint and other affiliated groups.

The connections go past just contributions. Chris Fitzsimon, a former WRAL reporter, is head of the liberal NC Policy Watch, the original lead attack group in the Blueprint coalition. Fitzsimon is provided free airtime on Goodmon-owned WRAL-FM from which he launches daily attacks on political opponents. The Fletcher Foundation has been a long time funder of Policy Watch, which is a project of the North Carolina Justice Center, also a large recipient of Fletcher Foundation grants.

Grants from A.J. Fletcher to Blueprint NC and Affiliates, 2008-2011
From the Civitas Institute (nccivitas.org)
Grantor 990 Year Grantee Amount
AJ Fletcher Foundation 2008 Common Cause NC $25,000
AJ Fletcher Foundation 2008 NC Justice Center $335,000
AJ Fletcher Foundation 2009 NC Housing Coalition $70,000
AJ Fletcher Foundation 2009 NC Justice Center $335,000
AJ Fletcher Foundation 2009 Ending Homelessness Raleigh Wake Fund TCF $25,000
AJ Fletcher Foundation 2010 El Pueblo $25,000
AJ Fletcher Foundation 2010 NC Justice Center $380,000
AJ Fletcher Foundation 2010 NC Housing Coalition $70,000
AJ Fletcher Foundation 2010 Blueprint NC $35,000
AJ Fletcher Foundation 2011 Common Cause NC $40,000
AJ Fletcher Foundation 2011 NC Justice Center $308,000
AJ Fletcher Foundation 2011 NC Housing Coalition $75,000
AJ Fletcher Foundation 2011 Wake Up Wake County $10,000
$1,708,000

In addition to the funding and personnel overlap, WRAL is also essentially doing one of the items in the strategy memo. The memo calls for its allies to track McCrory “Campaign Promises” and “slam him when he contradicts his promise.” WRAL appears to have taken that action by launching its “Promise Tracker,” complete with skull and crossbones symbols.

This is not the first time Civitas has written on Blueprint NC and its members. In January 2010 while researching ACORN, we reported on Blueprint NC along with this handy chart. Blueprint played a key coordinating role leading up to the 2008 election and its extensive network was very involved in “Get Out the Vote” activities in North Carolina. We also wrote a later article about Blueprint’s role in influencing the news you are getting.

In addition to “Promise Tracker,” WRAL has shown considerably more interest in the NC legislature since Republicans won the majority. After the 2010 election, the station hired a full-time Capital Bureau Chief, Laura Leslie, who previously worked for the local public radio affiliate. In 2012 they added Mark Binker, who was a reporter for the Greensboro News & Record. They assign additional personnel to stories as the need arises. From 2010 to today, WRAL went from no full-time legislative and state government coverage to two-plus reporters on the beat.

There is much lamenting among not only conservatives but also the public at large about the degradation of news coverage. A lot of complaints center on news reports not matching up with what people actually see around them. In the digital era, the ability of ordinary citizens to be their own “fact checkers” has hastened the trend towards more informed consumption of what we view, read and hear.

When a news outlet fails to give consumers all of the pertinent facts, it erodes trust in all of the reporting by that outlet and the media in general. With the Blueprint NC report there is real reason to wonder why WRAL did not report all the aspects of this story.

This article was posted in Corruption & Ethics, Elections & Voting, Legislative Activity by Francis De Luca on February 26, 2013 at 2:49 PM.

© 2011 The Civitas Institute. Visit us on the web at www.nccivitas.org.
This article can be found at http://www.nccivitas.org/2013/missing-connection-wral-blueprint-nc/

Comments on this article

  • 1

    jim
    jim Feb 27, 2013 at 7:44

    maybe your org should add a person to keep track of what wral delebrately leaves out, & what those “extra” reporters report! Good luck.

  • 2

    Steve
    Steve Feb 27, 2013 at 7:59

    I stopped watching the evening news a long time ago. Wral is nothing more then a Liberal mouth piece for Obama and all the Libs. I always wonder why that Liberal hack Chris Fitzsimon gets to say whatever socialist viewpoint he wants to spew out of his mouth at the end of WRAL news with no rebuttal. WRAL and the Goodman family AKA the NC Pravda.

  • 3

    Robert Richardson
    Robert Richardson Feb 27, 2013 at 11:24

    I knew something was fishy at WRAL when Goodman got involved in the school board dust up. I have been watching WTVD 11 for the last couple of years because of the bias in management.

  • 4

    Donald DaCosta
    Donald DaCosta Feb 27, 2013 at 14:54

    This is the modus operandi of the Left. Do not go near the issues because intelligently debated, they’ll lose. Instead identify, isolate and attack the “enemy” which is how the political world now operates. The Republican’s have been in a gutter fight with the Left since the Clinton era, coming to a head when George Bush defeated Al Gore in a hotly disputed, very close election in 2000. But Republicans stick to their political version of the Marquess of Queensberry rules while the Democrats are using verbal garrotes, machetes and battle axes. Republicans will not win these propaganda battles unless they learn to play the same game. Even then, with the Left in control of academia, Hollywood and the legacy media, republicans are in a very precarious and perhaps untenable position. And while the Left successfully nitpicks and denigrates any republican that’s deemed a threat, their side commits egregious, damaging, completely inept policies at home and abroad while the leadership on the right fusses, blusters and folds on nearly every issue while struggling to “reach across the aisle.” The balance of power designed to limit the power of each of the 3 branches of government requires forceful, take no prisoners leadership in each. It’s not working. The 435 members of the republican controlled House of Representatives is weak and dysfunctional.

  • 5

    Gail Chapman
    Gail Chapman Feb 27, 2013 at 15:20

    Donald DaCosta said it all. The Right needs to unite, stand up and fight back. We need to better utilize the technology and educate people, especially the young, before time runs out. The clock is ticking…

  • 6

    Kirk
    Kirk Feb 27, 2013 at 19:22

    I remember in the early 1970′s when Jesse Helms was VP of Capitol Broadcasting and used to offer his commentary, I believe nightly, on WRAL TV5 news. I bet he is spinning in his grave now wondering how such a conservative station changed 180 degrees in views.

  • 7

    Ed Tilley
    Ed Tilley Feb 27, 2013 at 19:23

    The founder of Capitol Broadcasting would not be proud of the current management!

  • 8

    Robert
    Robert Feb 27, 2013 at 23:44

    Like others I haven’t watched TV news in years. The Liberal bias they keep denying is overwhelming. NBC’s editing of stories to match an agenda is disgusting. Likewise teh newspapers. I read the Observer only to see what new taxes Charlotte is going to come up with next so we can finance football stadiums, trolleys, etc. The Observer and I have argued for years over their biased reporting. I asked them once when they were going to report Obama’s Ok to Lockheed-Martin to ignore federal law on layoff announcements and a promise to have his administration pay any legal fees. I’m still waiting. Worse yet is the New York Times for bias. The readers letters are the worst anywhere with hundreds of Liberals spewing hate for Conservatives and anything gun related.

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