I should probably be writing this column about Rep. Ted Budd, the Trump-soaked Senate candidate who, it was reported this week, is getting his ass kicked in the money game against his challenger, former NC Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley.
That’s good news if you care about this country’s values and traditions — Budd, who won a crowded primary on Trump’s endorsement, twice voted not to impeach the disgraced president and on Jan. 6 voted to overturn the results of the election.
But instead I chose as my subject a story about Budd, its unlikely source and how it found its way to me.
I take in an enormous amount of news, beginning before sunrise every morning and gathering more as the day goes on. I never really stop. I get my information from blue-chip news sources — the kind that issue corrections when they get something wrong. I read my news almost exclusively, as opposed to radio or TV, so that I can take it in with a more critical eye. And I stick to news; no opinion sections or hot takes for me. For statewide news, I look at a lot of source documents.
I found out about last week’s Ted Budd story through a letter from an activist published in INDY Week, our friends in the Triangle. Besides Budd’s unsavory campaign donors, the letter references more than $30,000 in trips the Congressman has taken as a guest of special-interest, right-wing groups.
Could that be accurate? As we say in journalism: Even when your mother says she loves you, you need to check it out.
The activist’s assertion led me to a piece of investigative reporting published right here in the Triad by… a TV station!
Yes! Fox 8 WGHP (Fox fucking 8!) ran more than 2,000 words (2,000 words!) by bona fide print journalist Steven Doyle that examined source documents (!) and conducted extensive interviews (!!) to contextualize Budd’s many, many extravagant trips.
A deep dive! And it came out almost two weeks ago, which is forever in the news cycle. Shame on me.
But in my defense, no Triad TV station has ever published an original, 2,000-word investigative piece since I got here 20 years ago. So I wasn’t really looking for it.
But there it is! And I hope to see more of it.
Local news is in crisis, and we need as many players on the field as we can get.
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