North Carolina Lawmaker Mike Stone Pressured School To Cancel Show That Was Critical Of Him

| by Jonathan Wolfe
article imagearticle image

A North Carolina community college has suspended a radio program after state legislator Mike Stone (R) took issue with how he was being portrayed on the show.

A legislative assistant for Stone wrote the president of Central Carolina Community College asking what the school’s affiliation with the show, named The Rant, was. The email contained a link to a post by one of the show’s hosts, Gordon Anderson, titled Good job Mike! (not really). In the post, Anderson criticizes three of Stone’s bills that would strip certain local legislative powers from the largely Democratic county of Sanford and turn them over to other Republican-dominated state legislatures.

“Taken together, these bills show that Stone’s priorities are misplaced,” Anderson wrote in his post for the Rant. “While we continue to struggle with unemployment and budgetary constraints, our representative in Raleigh is availing himself of the opportunity to dabble in local partisan politics. It’s a shame.”

Apparently, Stone wasn’t fond of the criticism.

Three hours after Anderson put up his post, Stone had a legislative assistant email Central Carolina Community College President T.E. Marchant.

“What is their programming schedule and format?” the emails said. “Each day, each time slot. What show filled the FCC requirement when they stopped doing The Rant. Or did they stop? Has the show been in production since 2008? What is the radio station’s budget? What is the source of its funding?”

Two days after the email exchange, Marchant announced that The Rant would be suspended indefinitely. The hosts of the show say they have decided to part ways with the school.

“We’ve decided to part ways with CCCC so that anything we might talk about in the future will not put the school in an awkward position with anyone at any level of government,” they said.

Some in the community are criticizing Rep. Stone of discouraging free speech.

“I wonder if Mr. Stone has heard of our Constitution and the First Amendment concerning freedom of speech,” CCCC trustee member Tony Lett said. “Why does he (Stone) fear criticism of the decisions he is making?”

Lett added that if Stone had such a problem with The Rant’s assessment of him, he should have gone on the show as a guest to talk about his bills rather than pressuring to get the show off of the air.

Host Billy Ligget says that just because the show is leaving peacefully does not mean they are pleased with Stone’s actions.

“We didn’t say anything that was not factual, we didn’t say anything offensive,” he said. “We’re gracefully bowing out, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t think this is ridiculous.”

Sources: Think Progress, NC Policy Watch, The Rant