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)
|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|
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.