Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Congressman Chuck Edwards Goes Jihad About Investigative Reporter


Chuck Edwards

Newly elected Congressman Chuck Edwards, who took over the 11th CD seat from Madison Cawthorn, has thrown a hissy fit about Smoky Mountain News investigative reporter Cory Vaillancourt and banned him from his office:

My office makes every effort to respond to media inquiries of reporters with a willingness to report news in a balanced manner and without bias. is no such reporter. My office will not waste our time with his inquires [sic]. Readers have many other options. Please use them.

That was at 3:45 p.m. on March 19, following ten days of massive upset in the heart of Edwards' district over the announced closing of the huge Canton paper mill (formerly Champion Paper, now Pactiv Evergreen), which is putting hundreds out of work and endangering the economic health of all of Haywood County. Vaillancourt fired back at Edwards on Twitter, and the whole backstory began to take shape. At 4:38 p.m. on the 19th, Vaillancourt tweeted:

Some things I’ve reported about @ChuckEdwards4NC (a thread):
- Pulled out of a legitimate debate in favor of a taped TV softball-fest with a corporate TV station he’d spent hundred$ of thousand$ with
- opposed student debit relief, never paid back his own $1m PPP loan
- refused to interview when mill closing broke
- attributed my reporting about stock trades to aforementioned friendly TV station
Where’s the bias, Chuck?
- voted himself a tax break on said PPP loan - didn’t even know own party leader’s positions on Medicare, SS cuts - couldn’t find 10 minutes over 5 days to talk about mill troubles in Feb
i contacted you prior to Feb. 8 about troubles at the mill. you didn't even know what was happening & refused to speak on it — probably because you knew nothing & had done nothing. when canton's working families needed you most, you did nothing. shame on you.


That "shame on you" might be considered unprofessional for a reporter, but it was certainly human, and it came after Edwards had announced that Vaillancourt was persona non grata in his office, so not only "human" but understandably human.

In my limited experience, I have to rank Vaillancourt at the top of reporters I've followed in western North Carolina.

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