In NC Senate race, Charlotte Observer hides political affiliation of "non-partisan" group

The North Carolina Senate race between Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis has broken out into dueling claims of potential corruption, with varying degrees of credibility. A request has been made for an ethics investigation into a company co-owned by Hagan’s husband that received cash and benefits under the 2009 stimulus program, which Hagan voted for. In return, state Democrats have asked for an investigation of a vote Tillis cast in 2010 regarding a federal renewable energy tax credit program that benefited a bank in which he owns some stock.

The point of contention here isn’t so much the back and forth accusations, but the way that the story was covered in the Charlotte Observer. (Emphasis mine.)

Melanie Sloan, an expert on congressional ethics and the executive director of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan government watchdog group, called it “a stupid complaint” and predicted the committee would dismiss it.

The Senate ethics rules only would involve a senator’s vote if the vote only affected that senator and his or her family. The huge stimulus bill directed money to large numbers of people nationwide, she said.

So is CREW truly a “nonpartisan watchdog group” today? As noted in a letter from the state GOP, that’s a rather laughable claim.

As POLITICO (and many other publications) have reported, CREW is run by liberal activist David Brock as a ‘muscular’ and ‘partisan’ ‘attack dog.’ Brock is a key supporter of President Bill Clinton, who recently campaigned with Senator Kay Hagan.

Quoting a CREW official without disclosing the group’s aggressively partisan liberal agenda misleads your readers and amounts to journalistic malpractice.

The Observer has a serious job: to tell the people of North Carolina the truth. In this instance, you failed. Your readers deserve better than liberal, partisan talking points disguised as ‘objective’ journalism.

Here is how Politico – not exactly a rabid, right wing outfit – described Brock’s move to take over CREW.

In a major power play that aligns liberal muscle more fully behind the Democratic Party — and Hillary Clinton — the self-described right-wing hitman-turned-Clinton enforcer David Brock is taking over a leading watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Brock was elected chairman of the group’s board last week after laying out a multifaceted expansion intended to turn the group into a more muscular — and likely partisan — attack dog, according to sources familiar with the move.

All you need to do is Google Brock’s history to get an idea as to how nonpartisan he is. But it was apparently a clever move on his part. As long as he can continue to get the media to cover elections by quoting his new group as some sort of uninvolved, above the fray entity, he becomes a far more effective agent for the Democrats. It’s just a shame that this newspaper is playing into that perception.