Election 2014

N.C. Media Yanks Story Suggesting Sen. Hagan's Family Cashed In on Stimulus (UPDATED)

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Somebody hired Olivia Pope.
Credit: Third Way

We've noted previously that Democratic North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan has a tough race for re-election against a Republican challenger and a potential Libertarian Party spoiler named Sean Haugh. The National Journal has a lengthy look at how the race has played out so far.

She also has a bit of a scandal that didn't appear to be gaining much national traction, but some very unusual self-censorship by a top television station and a top newspaper in North Carolina may change the situation.

To summarize: Kay Hagan's family—her husband, son, and son-in-law—is accused of receiving more than $250,000 in stimulus funds from 2009 to renovate buildings owned by their companies. This would present a potential conflict of interest and could potentially be a violation of state and federal law. Carolina Journal has a story here stating that North Carolina's Department of Environment and Natural Resources has recommended that an auditor review the grant (solar company subsidies are the source of the grant, for anybody wondering why that particular agency is involved). The Carolina Journal has embedded PDFs of the reports for review.

Over the weekend it appeared the major media outlets were picking up on the controversy right before the election. Stories appeared on the websites for the Charlotte Observer and Charlotte-based  CBS affiliate WBTV. WBTV apparently provided the story to both outlets. The story was just a reporting of the contents of the same documents the Carolina Journal got its hands on. It doesn't actually accuse Hagan or her family directly of wrong-doing; rather, the report calls for "further legal review" out of concern that there may have been wrong-doing.

But today both stories are gone, scrubbed from the sites, and some are calling foul. The Observer tweeted this morning that WBTV had provided the story and asked for it to be yanked and the Observer complied. WBTV has not tweeted any sort of explanation as to why it yanked the story as yet. And so the media in North Carolina is being accused of aiding and abetting Hagan in a tight race.

Nothing can be deleted from the Internet, so The Federalist pulled up the cache of the story and has it posted here. A read-through of it can confirm what I described a couple of paragraphs ago. The story is simply describing the contents of a report from the state's Department of Environment and Natural Resources. There could potentially be a logical reason for yanking the story if it turned out the documents themselves were counterfeit, but that itself would be extremely newsworthy. Instead, there's just silence so far.

In the absence of an official explanation, the disappearance of the stories is itself trending as news. Just doing a Google news search of Hagan (just her name with no other key words) brought up a collection of stories from political sites wondering why the Observer and WBTV deleted the coverage.

UPDATE: The Charlotte Observer has now posted their own version of the story. There's still no explanation why WBTV took their version down.

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  1. Senator Barbra Streisand

  2. There could potentially be a logical reason for yanking the story if it turned out the documents themselves were counterfeit, but that itself would be extremely newsworthy. Instead, there’s just silence so far.

    It might be a good reminder of how little news agencies can get away with in the days of this newfangled internet thing.

  3. media bias is just a right-wing meme. /ghost of MNG

    1. I’ll go with the Balko theory. We don’t have a left-wing media or a right-wing media. We have a statist media that sucks up to power at every opportunity. They don’t want to risk their access like this.

      1. But, right now, Team Blue can be counted on to be more reliably statist, so….

      2. But how does that meme fit with the “both parties are exactly the same” meme? If the media just loves power and both parties are equally statist, the media shouldn’t be biased the way they are. But they are.

        1. Is Hagan not the incumbent?

          1. Sure. But show me where the media has ever acted like this with an incumbent Republican Senator. They haven’t as far as I can remember.

            Contrast this coverage with the coverage given to the Tom Delay sham indictment. Delay was a hell of a lot more powerful than Hagan. And his indictment was on charges so flimsy an appellate court later ruled that no reasonable jury could ever have found him guilty of a crime.

            Or consider the coverage of Ted Stevens in Alaska. Ted Stevens was the victim of prosecutorial misconduct by the DOJ and said as much during his trial. Yet, the media never even investigated the issue or acted like Stevens was anything but guilty.

            Yes, the media loves power but they only love Democrats who hold it.

            1. Not a senator, but the NY Times sat on the warrant less wiretapping story until after the 2004 election.

              1. Who is to say the Times thought running the story would help Kerry? If they didn’t think it would help Kerry and running it would ruin their access to the White House, why run it?

                Your theory only works if you think that the Times thought running the story would have helped Kerry and decided not to run it anyway. I don’t think that is true. Kerry was running on being tough on terrorism and Bush ended up winning because he convinced the country Kerry really wasn’t. Given that, I don’t see how the story would have helped Kerry win the election. If Kerry had come out against it, it would have fed Bush’s narrative and hurt him. If Kerry had come out for it, then both candidates are the same and the issue is a wash.

                In fact, that story would have probably hurt Kerry since it would have forced him to take a position on the issue and choose between fighting the Bush narrative that he was weak at the price of demoralizing his base or standing with his base at the price of feeding the Bush narrative.

                I think the Times didn’t run it because they thought it would help Bush.

        2. I suspect it’s both. Deference to power and incumbency as well as a leftist bias.

          The bias I am seeing is all the headlines like “Republicans just might pull it off!” or “Will the Republicans ACTUALLY take the Senate?” when it is increasingly likely to be a sweep.

          The only joy I’ll get is from the tears on the average blue tribe idiot’s face who were all predicting the end of the GOP as we know it after the govt shutdown last year.

          1. I’m getting schadenfreude from the tears of all the 2008-vintage Obama worshippers, now that all their Hope for Change is crashing and burning.

      3. We have an ads media that survives only as long as it an sucker people into reading it. News can be divided into two parts OMG they are trying to change things! and OMG they are stuck in the mud and want to keep us in the dark!

        The statist aspect arises out of the need to blame individuals for doing or not doing something; you can’t make news out of what emerges spontaneously from society. You won’t get change by exhorting the world at large. You have to exhort individuals, ie Top Men.

  4. It doesn’t actually accuse Kagan or her family directly of wrong-doing…

    Hagan, presumably since this article is about the Senator from NC, not the Supreme Court Justice.

    1. Since fixed in the article above. You’re welcome, Shackford.

  5. “Media Yanks”

    Now, now, be fair the NC media is bad, but they’re not Yankees!

    1. Never know, NC is doing it’s best to turn into Florida with tobacco. So many NJ transplants, so little ammunition.

      1. New Jersey – the state’s very name is a synonym for honest, responsible government!

  6. Fake scandal!

    /shreiky

  7. Kay Hagan, more like Kay “Handout”.

  8. Democrat operatives with bylines.

    Sure, they are mainly statist tools. But, whenever they make an editorial decision that impacts RED v BLUE, its always, always, to help TEAM BLUE.

  9. Speaking of NC, here’s O’Keefe doing his patented hidden camera thing to show how stupidly broken our voter security is.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new…..llots.html

    The reason to click through is the picture at the very end showing Saint Mandela wearing a t-shirt that says “Get an ID. Register. Vote.” The dirty racist.

  10. “Kay Hagan’s family?her husband, son, and son-in-law?is accused of receiving more than $250,000 in stimulus funds from 2009 to renovate buildings owned by their companies…[the] Department of Environment and Natural Resources has recommended that an auditor review the grant (solar company subsidies are the source of the grant)”

    It would be interesting to do a state-by-state survey to identify how many ‘solar start-ups’ and ‘contractors specializing in ‘Green’ refurbishment of Federal Buildings’ emerged in 2008-2010 which just coincidentally happened to have connections to local Democrat-party-interests.

    Because its not like anyone noticed that “stimulus” was a-coming, and that it would be specifically funneled to specific constituencies that had been teed-up even before Obama won the presidency.

    Side note: its remarkable how rarely the term ‘rent-seeking’ is used in the NYT, and when it is, it is a term exclusively used for describing ‘monopolists’ and ‘rich, .01% people with no ideas’, with zero actual discussion of it necessary collusion with state power.

    1. e.g. “NYT Examples of Rent-Seeking”

      – it is always needing to be re-explained, apparently, and never seems to have the same definition twice:

      “It stems from what economists call rent-seeking ? tapping into the economic value created by someone else, rather than creating new value.

      In technical language, this field is the study of “rent seeking,” in which people or companies get rich because of their power, not because of their …

      The proposal is a perfect example of how growing inequality has been fed by what economists call rent-seeking. As small numbers of Americans have grown extremely wealthy, their political power has also ballooned to a disproportionate size.

      We’ve drawn our most talented young people into financial shenanigans, rather than into creating real businesses, making real discoveries, providing real services to others. More efforts go into “rent-seeking” ? getting a larger slice of the country’s economic pie ? than into enlarging the size of the pie.

      1. Wow. They really don’t know what rent-seeking is, do they?

        1. Apparently its something ‘economists’ talk about… and it only involves ‘rich people’.

          It has nothing to do with how people even in the lowest levels of government collude with, say, real-estate developers, and inform each other where the ‘new roads’ are going/should go… or how restaurant owners who donate generously to the party boss never seem to have problems with the health inspectors…. No, its something to do with “the 1%”, and the game ‘monopoly’. Monocles may be involved.

  11. I am sure if the media had stumbled on some Republican Senator who voted for the Iraq war and whose family got rich off of war related contracts with DOD, the media would have ignored the story too.

  12. It would be interesting to do a state-by-state survey to identify how many ‘solar start-ups’ and ‘contractors specializing in ‘Green’ refurbishment of Federal Buildings’ emerged in 2008-2010 which just coincidentally happened to have connections to local Democrat-party-interests.

    Because its not like anyone noticed that “stimulus” was a-coming, and that it would be specifically funneled to specific constituencies that had been teed-up even before Obama won the presidency.

    How many people not intimately involved in the sausage-making process even know about these too good to be true “business ventures”?

    If I buy that book from the guy in the question mark suit, will I find out how to get a grant to build a ten million dollar building on my property to manufacture solar powered Hello Kitty lunchboxes?

    1. “How many people not intimately involved in the sausage-making process even know about these too good to be true “business ventures”?”

      The Administration has a “suggestion box” right on the White House door! Its not their fault that if you try and approach it, they sic the dogs on you.

      No, but the “funnel huge amounts of money to green-tech industry” was a known plan leading into the 2008 election. Ethanol had become a $5bn (sorry! $6 billion) yearly handout to the corn-belt – and other people saw that, and that it was *good*, and it was a huge source of campaign donations. Payback was coming.

      Which is why I think a survey of the recipients of subsidies would make interesting reading. Liberals have managed to convince themselves that they had nothing to do with the Ethanol boondoggle… and still seem to think that Solyndra et al is a ‘fake scandal’… As noted = the NYT has trouble acknowledging what ‘Rent-Seeking’ even Is – they are in complete denial of the degree to which it is fundamental to their very ideology. They can’t even admit that Tom Steyer is a scumbag. They have a self-image of themselves as clean as driven snow…. and it would be nice to hold up a mirror to this sort of behavior and let them try and reconcile with it.

  13. We’ve drawn our most talented young people into financial shenanigans, rather than into creating real businesses, making real discoveries, providing real services to others. More efforts go into “rent-seeking” ? getting a larger slice of the country’s economic pie ? than into enlarging the size of the pie.

    Say wut?

    1. That was, if you can believe it (or ‘unsurprisingly’), Joe Stiglitz, and his much-reprinted editorial was as an argument for taxing the shit out of rich people. Because ‘inequality*’ (as though that’s an argument)

      because ‘rent seeking’ is how rich people get richer and poor people stay poor, apparently. Not anything to do with the nexus between politicians and cronies. No, ‘rent seeking’ is apparently something that requires MOAR INTERVENTION by the state into private capital.

      And progs will cite this as an example of their ‘scientific and reality-based’ thinking.

      re: ‘inequality’

      when i was in college, there was a brief discussion once about how the term ‘equal’ was often rhetorically used as synonymous with ‘good’

      While there were one or two people who vainly attempted to defend a beneficent, idealized, ‘flat’ society*, they eventually realized that their arguments were pretty shit, and they abandoned it. I concluded that it was an idea that only a College Freshmen would countenance. Or, ‘the head of the world bank’.

      *re: ‘a Flat society’ = their argument always ran into = who makes and keeps it “flat”? They realized that the whole premise required a massive transfer of power from individuals to ‘regulators’. They fell back on “but flatter is still better”… because ‘stability‘.

      Which seemed like a snake eating its tail at that point.

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