Wednesday, March 06, 2024


Mark Robinson, the lieutenant governor of North Carolina, won the state's Republican gubernatorial primary in a landslide yesterday. He'll face off in November against the winner of the Democratic primary, Josh Stein, the state's attorney general.

I've told you about some of the hateful, bigoted things Robinson has said in public and posted on social media. So have media outlets such as The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Guardian, Rolling Stone ("Republicans Just Nominated a Conspiracy Theorist Who Compared Gay People to Maggots"), and Slate. Last year, Talking Points Memo published a good compilation of his most offensive remarks, of which this is just a small sample:
In 2021, Robinson sparked outrage from Jewish groups when he published a post filled with Yiddish slurs and references to Israeli currency wherein he declared the “Black Panther” superhero movie was based on a character that was created “by an agnostic Jew and put to film by satanic marxist” in an effort to “pull the shekels out of your Schvartze pockets.”

... In other missives over the years, Robinson called same-sex relationships a “sin,” a “mass delusion,” a “FILTHY ABOMINATION,” and a “satanic cult of sexual perversion.”

... “Nothing is more disgusting to me than effeminate males who carry purses and have ear rings in their ears. #stomachturningmadness,” Robinson wrote in August 2016.

... In one of the two speeches that sparked campaign buzz, ... Robinson touted his status as the “first Black lieutenant governor of North Carolina.” However, on Facebook, Robinson indicated several times that he often doesn’t exactly see himself as part of that community.

“Someone asked me if I considered myself part of the ‘African-American’ community.

“I told them NO!” Robinson wrote in 2017. “They asked me why and I said; ‘Why would I want to be part of a ‘community’ that devalues it’s fathers, overburdens it’s mothers, and murders its children by the millions? Why would I want to be part of a ‘community’ that sucks from the putrid tit of the government and then complains about getting sour milk?”
So how does The New York Times cover the possible next governor of North Carolina? Since the polls closed, the Times has published two stories about Robinson, both written by Eduardo Medina, a 2020 graduate of Auburn University who was an intern and reporter at several other papers before landing a job with the Times. Medina is very young and has a lot of territory to cover as a reporter. ("My region of coverage includes the Carolinas, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee. I report on news across the region, the cultural trends of the South and how major national issues impact individual lives.") But did the truly inflammatory things Robinson has said never come up when Medina was Googling him? Or is this the Times making an editorial decision to normalize a hatemonger again?

Here's what we get in Medina's first story, headlined "Mark Robinson Wins Republican Primary for North Carolina Governor":
His win proved that his blustering, Trump-aligned style is favored by conservatives who are gearing up for what will probably be the most expensive and closely contested statewide race in the country....

Mr. Robinson’s nomination notched another success in what has been a remarkable rise for the lieutenant governor: In 2018, he was working in furniture manufacturing. A year later, after he drew national attention in conservative circles with a video showing him criticizing gun control at a public meeting in Greensboro, he entered the race for lieutenant governor.

Now, four years after being elected to statewide office as a political firebrand and newcomer, Mr. Robinson is charging toward the executive mansion in Raleigh with a brand of conservatism that focuses on culture war issues, testing how far right North Carolinians are willing to go in their purple state.
Yes, Robinson is just a "firebrand" who "focuses on culture war issues" -- you know, normal stuff. This is as close as Medina gets to a true sense of Robinson's rhetoric:
Mr. Robinson has characterized the civil rights movement as a communist and socialist plot to “subvert capitalism,” promised to arrest transgender women who use women’s restrooms and said that Christians are “called to be led by men.” He has disparaged the L.G.B.T.Q. community, made comments widely perceived as antisemitic and called for limiting discussions about racism in public schools.
This makes him sound like a very far-right but within-the-pale conservative Republican. None of his Very Online bigoted trash talk is quoted.

In Medina's second story, headlined "Who Is Mark Robinson, the Republican Nominee for North Carolina Governor?," we're told that "His political career was fueled by online support," "He made history as the first Black lieutenant governor of North Carolina," and "His upbringing was difficult." Eventually, we get this:
He has long held anti-L.G.B.T.Q. views.
Since gaining a political platform, and even before that on his personal Facebook page, Mr. Robinson has hurled disparaging remarks at the L.G.B.T.Q. community, rooting his attacks in his Christian faith.

He has said that it makes him sick to see a church flying the rainbow flag, describing it as a “direct spit in the face of God.” He also told a congregation that “there’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth.”

In February, Mr. Robinson said that transgender women who use women’s restrooms “will be arrested,” echoing the so-called bathroom bill that the state legislators passed in 2016. That measure proved to be unpopular because of its negative economic effects, and [then-governor Roy] Cooper signed legislation repealing it in 2017.
This is a tiny glimpse of the real Mark Robinson. But we don't see the depths of his hatred for LGBTQ people, as other reporters have:
Speaking to parishioners at the Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem ... North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson attacked the LGBTQ+ community in remarks caught on the church’s livestreaming video on YouTube....

The state’s Republican Lt. Governor then went on to compare being gay to “what the cows leave behind” as well as maggots and flies, who he said all serve a purpose in God’s creation. “If homosexuality is of God, what purpose does it serve? What does it make? What does it create? It creates nothing,” Robinson said.
There's nothing in Medina's story about his other bigotries, including his clear loathing for his fellow Black people. (As TPM notes, Robinson regularly posts images of the Confederate battle flag, expresses support for "white pride," and refers to "the hood" as a "steaming pile of human waste.") We aren't told that he loathes Muslims, or that he has called Michelle Obama a man (“I’ll be glad when he takes his boyfriend and leaves the White House”).

I don't fully blame Medina. He's a young, ambitious reporter who's punching his ticket until the Times or another high-level media outlet gives him a better assignment. I blame Medina's editors, who don't appear to understand that the rot in the Republican Party isn't limited to Donald Trump -- or perhaps they believe that if there's rot outside the Acela Corridor, it don't really matter.

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