May 5, 2020

It’s tough to overstate the benefits of technology in these isolated times, but WRAL serves up a helpful reminder that technology can backfire if we aren’t careful. One wrong click, one wrong email address, one errant reply-all can expose someone’s candor to the wrong audience – saying the quiet part out loud.

So it was with WRAL opinion editor/editorial writer Seth Effron, who accidentally emailed State Senate leadership staff a plot to tarnish State Senator Paul Newton and offered all of us an unfiltered peek at how things work on Western Boulevard when the cameras aren’t rolling:

“Jim” is presumably Jim Goodmon, WRAL head honcho and megadonor to liberal causes and candidates. We know Goodmon’s ideas have long permeated WRAL’s work product, but now we see it’s a two-way street: WRAL employees throw partisan grievances back up the ladder to Goodmon, who has a vast network (remember Blueprint NC?) of far-left instruments to act on them.

With so many lines blurred between news, analysis, commentary, opinion, and activism these days, and so much news fractured to reinforce biases, this is an especially bad look for one of the last local news organizations professing neutrality. It reinforces the need for pro-reform groups like CPR – the public deserves to know our side, and the only way they’ll hear it is if we tell them directly. No longer can free-market folks like us count on the press to present their views to the public.

To our knowledge, WRAL offered no comment on the Effron email – no attempt whatsoever at damage control. And we still don’t fully understand Effron’s relationship with the newsroom or its fact-checking project. This, too, speaks volumes.

Maybe it’s time for Goodmon to admit WRAL is a tool of partisan warfare that he wields to bash conservatives and reformers. Or maybe it’s time to let someone else run the place.