Opinion: Daily Journal

Divergent opinions and the power of independent thought

Editorials from the state's two large McClatchy newspapers show refreshingly different perspectives on same issue

The News & Observer of Raleigh and The Charlotte Observer have offered up a wonderful example of the power of free and independent thought.

The example, in the form of a pair of wildly disparate editorials, was probably an accident and most likely elicited audible gasps and groans from the staffs of the respective newspapers.

But to those of us who take our news from a grand buffet as opposed to a homogenous drive-thru window, the diversity of thought was refreshing and heartening.

This is really only important because The McClatchy Co. owns both papers. Each paper covers its community well, although editors often share stories and photos. The websites are mirror images — as is the case up and down the McClatchy chain — although each paper produces some unique local content.

Editorials in both papers lean left, though the liberal tilt of the N&O is typically more pronounced. The Charlotte paper veers toward a more moderate approach, although it did endorse a plethora of Democrats this past fall, including Gov. Roy Cooper, who is looking more and more like the short kid in the back of the classroom. He keeps trying to raise his hand, but people either fail to see it or summarily choose to ignore it.

Cooper ordered the General Assembly to hold a 14-day special session starting the next day to redraw state electoral maps. The U.S. Supreme Court, as we’ve reported, ruled the current the General Assembly used an unconstitutional racial gerrymander to create 28 legislative districts.

The General Assembly will redraw the maps, in time, as is their prerogative. The high court, in fact, offered no timeline for redrawing the maps and, in turn, scheduling a special election. Cooper, for mostly political reasons, chose to push the issue, ignoring a handful of mitigating factors in ordering the special session as lawmakers are busy working on a state budget.

Call on me, call on me!

Lawmakers, not surprisingly, rejected Cooper’s order with little debate.

First, the Charlotte newspaper took Cooper to task. The editors called Cooper’s move “clumsy.” They agreed with Republicans who accused the governor of grandstanding — telling them again what they know already — and reinforcing “the acrimony between Democrats and Republicans in Raleigh, making compromise on this issue even more unlikely than it already is.”

The order, the paper wrote, “made him look nakedly political — and at least a little silly— while pulling off the difficult feat of having N.C. Republicans look like the responsible ones in the room.”

Ouch.

Yet the N&O seemingly can’t help but to defend Cooper, against all enemies foreign or Republican.

“The battle over districts has dragged on for too long,” that paper wrote, “as Republican legislative leaders don’t want to admit they drew maps with all the skill of a kindergarten class finger painting, though with less common sense and with hard partisan objectives.”

Ouch. Ouch.

The N&O‘s editors called former Gov. Pat McCrory weak, who, they say, was dispatched after one ineffective term. “But Cooper, a former lawmaker and a politician of skill, has put GOP lawmakers right where they belong: on the spot.”

He’s taking his case to the people, they say.

Yeah, right. It’s the editors who are taking their case to their readers, and anyone else who may listen. The editors in Charlotte are doing much the same, but in a much different way and from a completely divergent perspective.

This example resonates so loudly because the papers represent our state’s two largest cities, and the editors work for the same newspaper corporation. Yet, taken together, the two views provide a single, compelling example of a functioning and indispensable free and independent press.

I find that refreshing, regardless of the content.