When North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory spoke to an Asheville business group on Monday, he decided to take a shot at the journalists who cover state government.
Defending his economic record to the Council of Independent Business Owners, Mr. McCrory made the following comment, which provoked laughter from the friendly crowd:
“This is too complex for the journalists. They don’t have economics degrees. They’ve not been in business.”
That’s the type of unextraordinary anti-media comment politicians make all the time. They’re pieces of red meat that serve as reliable crowd pleasers, particularly for conservative politicians who score points with audiences for running against the mainstream media.
But in this case, a local political reporter decided to get the last laugh. Mark Binker, a reporter for Raleigh-Durham’s WRAL, wrote a cheeky piece for the @NCCapitol website titled “This post may be ‘too complex’ for us to write.”
Binker waits until his closing lines to exact his full revenge against Governor McCrory:
“It may be worth noting that McCrory’s campaign website says he graduated from ‘Catawba College in Rowan County, where he earned degrees in Education and Political Science.’ There’s no mention of an economics degree.”
Ouch. So, is it a bad idea to knock the media in this manner?
Yes and no. As I’ve written before, the expression “Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel” no longer fully applies in the age of social media. Today’s politicians are less dependent on the mainstream press than their predecessors, and can reach their audiences using alternative communications channels.
That’s not to suggest that picking gratuitous fights with the press is wise strategy, but I’d still modify that old expression to “Think hard before arguing with a man who buys ink by the barrel.”
If McCrory made these comments as part of a pre-planned and deliberate messaging strategy, it may have been worth the risk. But if these lines were improvised, he earned a small bit of embarrassing press he could have easily avoided.
A grateful tip of the hat to reader Mike Radionchenko; photo credits Hal Goodtree, Capitol Broadcasting Company
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