Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:


June 3

The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer on the Republican National Convention likely being moved out of North Carolina:

For those who’ve long wanted Charlotte to rid itself of the 2020 Republican National Convention, Donald Trump’s tweets on June 2 were a strong reminder why.

The president packed a lot of wrong into a handful of words. He said N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper refused to guarantee Republicans “use of the Spectrum Arena,” which was untrue. He said the governor was “still in Shelter-In-Place Mode,” which isn’t accurate. He said, finally, that he was forced to seek another home for his convention “because of @NC_Governor.”

That’s wrong.

Charlotte losing the convention — or at least the big events associated with it — is not about a Republican president vs. a “Democrat governor,” as Trump has called Cooper more than once. It isn’t about any of the ideological things the president and his supporters might like it to be about.

It’s about public health. That’s it. Roy Cooper wanted to protect the health of North Carolinians. Donald Trump was thinking about himself.

After a week of trying to get the other to say “no,” the governor and the president landed in a place that seemed inevitable all along. The president made the governor an offer he couldn’t accept — guarantee a full convention, a packed Spectrum arena with no requirements to wear masks or practice distancing. In other words, pretend that COVID-19 wasn’t too big of a deal, just as the president has so often tried to do.

To guarantee Trump his triumphant final-night convention moment three months before it happens, while COVID-19 metrics are still rising in our state and with little sense of the landscape in August, would have been a dereliction of duty for Cooper.

It’s true, as this editorial board has said, that the president and his party were in a pinch. They understandably didn’t like the thought of making plans and investing millions only to have the governor lock the doors because COVID-19 was spiking in August. We wish the RNC and Trump chose the responsible wait-and-see approach Democrats are taking with their August convention in Milwaukee, but if the president is insistent on his convention-goers partying like it’s 2019, he needs to find a city and state where leaders care as little as he does about the risks.

It’s also true that even if some RNC meetings stay here, the loss of the full convention will sting for Charlotte. While the coronavirus might have dampened the $100-200 million estimated economic impact of RNC 2020, big money was coming here. Businesses big and small‚ along with their employees - would have seen a much-needed boost to the bottom line. Even if you believe that public health is more important than potential revenue, it’s hard to see those dollars go away.

It might, however, be a bit of a relief. The convention presented an additional safety issue with this spring of discontent possibly bleeding into summer. Given the president’s growing combativeness with protests, it’s not hard to imagine a heavily militarized police force clashing with angry demonstrators in August. The president is spoiling for a fight. Charlotte could have been the battleground.

Instead, it appears that another city will reap the revenue and take on the risks of Donald Trump’s big week. RNC 2020 is among the more unpredictable conventions — other than the nominee, of course — in history. But of all the uncertainties surrounding August, one mattered most — the health of Charlotte and the people who were coming to North Carolina. Roy Cooper cared about that more than Donald Trump.




June 1

The Winston-Salem Journal on protests against police brutality that are taking place across the nation:

Whatever you want to take from the protests that occurred nationwide over the weekend, you can find it. There were peaceful demonstrators; there were destructive vandals. There were calm public officials who helped keep order and keep people safe; there were police and public officials who inflamed the situation and made it worse.

What you can’t find is any justification for the killing of George Floyd.

Nor can you find an easy solution for a complex situation that has been building for decades — the racial inequality that has imbued our society, leaving many people of color to feel they can’t even walk the streets without worrying about their safety.

Hundreds of protesters marched in Winston-Salem over the weekend, climaxing in a nine-minute tribute to Floyd on May 31, on the concrete, face down with their hands behind their backs, saying “I can’t breathe,” to dramatize his final moments. No significant violence or destruction was reported. That may be at least partially because of the city officials who stepped forward before the protests began, including Winston-Salem Police Chief Katrina Thompson and Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough, to express their concern and understanding.

But the farther from Winston-Salem one traveled, the more chaos was encountered. Property was damaged in Greensboro and Raleigh; elsewhere through the nation, fires were set and businesses looted. It was simply frightening.

Also in Raleigh, members of news organizations were attacked — by police officers as well as demonstrators. Photographers for both WRAL and the News & Observer were shot with rubber bullets on May 30. In other places, journalists from Fox News as well as CNN were attacked while doing their jobs.

Another thing missing this weekend was leadership from the White House. In typical fashion, President Trump blustered, tweeting threats and echoing a racist slogan from the past — “once the looting starts, the shooting starts” — ultimately saying nothing to calm the situation. When people protest police violence against black people, encouraging the police to be violent toward black people doesn’t help.

Among the Obama-era reforms that Trump has eliminated was a federal initiative to increase accountability and help troubled police departments build greater trust with their communities through consent decrees. That would have helped.

Another thing that could be found was outside agitators — mostly unidentified white men — vandalizing and destroying property, in Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and elsewhere, often over the objections of black protesters. With little evidence, Trump declared them left-wing “antifa” — though evidence suggests some may actually have been white supremacists, known as “Boogaloo Bois,” who hope to spark a new civil war.

The obvious shouldn’t need stating, but here it is anyway: The vandalism and destruction of property is wrong, and protesters who destroy and loot undermine their own message. But more than that by orders of magnitude, the needless, profligate killing of black people in America is wrong. The racism from which it springs, the baseless suspicion and threat to their lives and the related economic disparity that makes life more difficult — they’re wrong.

Some say the time for talk has passed and now we need action. We do need action, but not destructive action. And we still need talk. Some listeners are a little slow.

Despite the chaos, despite the fear and confusion, we take hope. We take hope from Sheriff Chris Swanson in Flint, Mich., who put down his helmet and baton and walked with the protesters there. We take hope from Santa Cruz Police Chief Andy Mills, who took a knee with protesters — and from dozens of other officers who hugged, talked with and marched with protesters and kept them safe. We take hope from the peaceful protests and responsive authorities in Winston-Salem. Good-willed people, helpers, are at work. We take hope.



May 30

The Fayetteville Observer on President Donald Trump's recent comments about Twitter:

Donald Trump is at war with Twitter. Unlike most of his multiple other online spats as president, this one could be titanic, with lasting effects. In the end, it could test the limits of both presidential power and the power and influence of social media.

The most recent dust-up between Trump and Twitter played out on May 28. Trump weighed in — we have to say, unhelpfully — on the violent protests in Minneapolis, where anger is simmering over the death George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died at the hands of police on Memorial Day.

Some protesters looted stores and damaged buildings. A contingent penetrated into a police precinct house and set fires, a move that forced officers to evacuate. Trump brought gasoline to the fire with his Twitter remarks: “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen.” While he criticized Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey as “very weak” and radical left, he said the military (the National Guard) was with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz all the way. “Any difficulty,” Trump wrote, “and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Many criticized the racially charged aspect of calling mostly black protesters thugs, but Twitter had a different problem with the president’s post. It said it was “glorifying violence,” against Twitter policy, and hid the tweet from view, making it so it can only be seen with an additional click. The White House’s official account retweeted Trump’s post, and it was also hit with a “hidden” tag.

Earlier on May 28, Trump had signed an executive order targeting Twitter and other social media giants that sought to weaken some legal protections they enjoy for content that appears on their platform. Legal experts say the move is mostly symbolic and will not do much without an act of Congress to modify a law, section 230, it passed in 1996. Trump seemed to acknowledge the reality. On Twitter, he called for Congress to revoke the law, a scenario not conceivable with Democrats in control of the House of Representatives.

The path to the current tension began when Twitter last week, for the first time, fact-checked two of Trump’s posts that contained dubious information about mail-in voting, which he opposes. The tweets were flagged with blue exclamation points and Twitter added links to factual information.

Trump has since then alternately vowed to regulate or shut down Twitter. For now, his surrogates and media allies have taken up his anti-Twitter banner, accusing the platform of a broader war against conservative voices. Daughter-in-law Lara Trump said on Fox Business that Twitter is not a “platform for free speech.” She and Eric Trump joined Parler, a competing platform.

So where will all this end? Who knows.

Trump has 80 million followers, and one will not find many voices on Twitter more influential than the U.S. president — whomever is serving as president at the time. Large as it is, Twitter would not relish losing a substantial part of U.S. conservatives from its fold.

On the other hand, would Trump really quit Twitter? We believe it to be unlikely in the extreme. Tweeting was one of his top campaign tools in his 2016 victory over Hillary Clinton. He and his supporters believe it’s the best way to get his message out with no media filter. If anything, Twitter is even more important to Trump in the 2020 race against former Vice President Joe Biden, since the coronavirus pandemic has for now put the kibosh on the large-scale political rallies Trump favors.

One wonders if Twitter and its CEO Jack Dorsey believe they have the upper hand, on the assumption that Trump needs them. It’s certainly not lost on anyone that most of the president’s diatribes against Twitter have been posted on ... Twitter.