Earlier this year, a liberal organizing network called Blueprint NC distributed a memo calling for a “collective statewide strategy” to “eviscerate the [Republican] leadership and weaken their ability to govern.” In the 38-page document, the Eviscerate Network described the need for a comprehensive media strategy “… for getting out the message in non-traditional ways.”
Based on recent events, it would appear that Blueprint has found some “non-traditional” outlets for their strategy. This month, Civitas reported on NC Health News, an “independent news organization” closely associated with Blueprint groups and people. Under the leadership of Rose Hoban, a former WUNC reporter, the nonprofit attacked the state Department of Health and Human Services. NC Health News alleged sensationally that “McCrory Administration Officials Suppressed Insight into Medicaid.” This, according to State Auditor Beth Wood, was “misleading” and “erroneous.” Wood identified at least six factual errors with NC Health News’ article. Regardless, the article – along with several others – was picked up by mainstream media outlets and echoed in talking points by politicians.
NC Health News claims to provide auxiliary coverage for subjects not normally covered by the media. But many of the stories published by NC Health News are on topics that gained huge amounts of media attention. For example, NC Health News recently published a series of stories about abortion regulation and the so-called “scandals” at DHHS. These, of course, have been some of the most media-saturated topics in North Carolina during the past year.
NC Health News works closely with another emergent mouthpiece for the liberal Left. The Raleigh Public Record, also purportedly an “independent news organization,” is heavily propped up by Blueprint bankrollers like the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and the A.J. Fletcher Foundation. The latter foundation actually appears to house the Raleigh Public Record, although neither the foundation nor the Public Record openly acknowledge this on their websites.
As Civitas disclosed in an earlier report, the Raleigh Public Record and NC Health News have close ties. The Public Record serves as the “fiscal sponsor” for NC Health News, funneling donations to an organization that has not yet received its nonprofit status from the IRS. This is legal, but it does raise even more questions about the professed “independence” of NC Health News.
A Pew Research review of nonprofit journalism found that many nonprofits produced “coverage that was clearly ideological in nature.” As Joshua Benton, director of the Harvard-affiliated Nieman Journalism Lab noted: “Nonprofit journalism doesn’t mean ideology-free.”
The Civitas Institute is a good example of a nonprofit that makes no pretense of ideological neutrality. We proudly educate and inform North Carolinians about conservative policy solutions. While we are nonpartisan, we make no claim to be nonpolitical. And yet liberal-progressive organizations seldom admit their own political agendas. North Carolinians should take note: the Raleigh Public Record and NC Health News may be nonprofits, but they are far from non-ideological.