Photo of the local Mountain Moral Monday rally by Julia Ritchey
Veteran national journalist and commentator Bill Moyers examines state politics in a new documentary, “North Carolina: Battleground State.” The online video (embedded below) focuses on businessman and state budget director Art Pope’s role in helping Republican candidates win in recent years, as well as the Moral Monday backlash. It features footage from the Mountain Moral Monday rally in downtown Asheville, which drew over 5,000 people.
Here’s an excerpt of how Moyers frames the story in an accompanying article on his website:
First it was Wisconsin. Now it’s North Carolina that is redefining the term “battleground state.” On one side: a right-wing government enacting laws that are changing the face of the state. On the other: citizen protesters who are fighting back against what they fear is a radical takeover. This crucible of conflict reflects how the battle for control of American politics is likely to be fought for the foreseeable future: not in Washington, DC, but state by state.
Meanwhile, the Civitas Institute, a conservative advocacy organization which receives funding from Pope, sent out a press release Jan. 3 blasting the video report as “one-sided and misleading.”
Read the full press release from Civitas here:
RALEIGH – Civitas Institute President Francis X. De Luca today expressed his dismay over a one-sided and misleading video report released by Bill Moyers on his website, billmoyers.com, and scheduled to appear on a variety of television stations.
“I agreed to appear on the ‘Moyers & Company’ production because I hoped it might highlight the clash of ideas here in North Carolina,” De Luca said. “Sadly, ‘North Carolina: Battleground State’ is a predictable rehash of clichés, ad hominem attacks, and laughable accusations. Rather than debating the issues, Moyers has rounded up liberal activists to again parrot left-wing slogans.”
“‘Battleground State’ tries to imply that one man or one party runs the state. But the program’s claim that Republicans have had a ‘monopoly of power’ for one year is laughable in a state dominated for 150 years by Democrats. The Moyers program fails to note, moreover, that the people of North Carolina, by comfortable margins, freely chose to elect conservative-leaning legislatures in 2010 and 2012,” De Luca said. “Despite the program’s complaints about redistricting, Republicans won in 2010 in districts drawn by Democrats and while being outspent. The people of North Carolina were ready for a new direction from the failed policies of the Left.”
“Moyers also focused on protestors at Monday rallies organized by NAACP head William Barber. At these protests Barber loudly vilified conservatives, allied himself with liberal activist groups and encouraged people to be arrested in a pale attempt to echo the 1960s. Moyers, however, ignored the millions of North Carolinians who quietly voted for conservative legislators in 2010 and 2012 – and for a new Republican governor in 2012,” De Luca added. “’Battleground State’ claims to serve democracy, but ignores the clear preferences of the majority of the state’s people.”
The program’s focus on funding of conservative ideas and organizations is also misleading, De Luca said. “Significant North Carolina conservative organizations can be counted on one hand. In contrast, there are a couple of hundred liberal organizations in the state, many bankrolled by wealthy individuals and well-funded foundations. Just one of those organizations, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (headed by a former Democratic State Senator) doled out more than $30 million to liberal groups in the two years leading up to the 2010 elections. These groups, using left-wing foundation money, participated in massive get-out-the-vote activities in 2010 and 2012.”
“The real issue is which ideas work. It is unfortunate timing for Moyers’ one-sided narrative that his program runs soon after reports showing North Carolina’s unemployment rate has dropped by 2 whole percentage points in the year since a new governor and more free enterprise-minded legislature were elected. That seems to be relevant information that his viewers may find important, but the partisan Moyers decided to leave viewers in the dark on such facts,” De Luca added.
“To sum up, we think the real question is how well conservative ideas work. The people of North Carolina have decided to give those ideas a chance,” De Luca said. “Ideologues who disagree would better serve our state if they proposed better proposals voters could support. Sadly, too often liberals respond instead with personal attacks and mudslinging. That suggests they know they have a losing argument. It is lamentable that Moyers & Company decided to take that road.”