Simply Sam

Sam Spagnola

“The leadership at the N&R just doesn’t get it. They continue to play the race card over and over only to be proven wrong. But not before more damage and division has been created in this city.  …we can look forward to the N&R creating (that’s right, CREATING) racial controversies that may sell papers or suit the agenda of a few, but cause serious harm to this city and its people. They aren’t part of the solution, they are part of the problem.”

Lawyer Sam, aka The CA, is a frequent and verbose commenter on local blogs, most recently at the 100-comment-and-counting love-fest going on over at head N&R editor John Robinson’s place regarding the Rhino, Jerry Bledsoe and the ways of journalism. 

I disagree with Sam on the N&R being part of the problem of local race relations, much less creating them.

As I wrote in my N&R column earlier this week, our local publications are certainly reflective of Greensboro’s legendary racial divisions – and different publications take different points-of-view, but they hardly create them.  If Sam wants to identify the actual creators of racial controversy herabouts, he needs look no further than to some of our bumbling, self-promoting, insensitive and smug elected ‘leadership’ – both black and white.

Blaming the messenger, as Sam is wont to do so frequently, is just too… too… easy.

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  1. Posted February 1, 2007 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    I never said that the N&R was alone in creating racial controversies.

  2. Posted February 1, 2007 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    True. You do seem to think, though, that the N&R is the only news outlet that does so.

    Ever read the Carolina Peacemaker?

  3. jerrold
    Posted February 1, 2007 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    I am so so worn out of the racial divide mass media in this area promote. Espically the N& R. I was born and raised in Greensboro. Being 26 allows me to have a perspective that race in this city is not that bad. I was not alive during the Morningside shootout, and do not care about it. Nor should I continually be told to care about it. If these people would get over these incidents. Why do I care about the Truth and Recon Commisions? WHy is the N & R so quick to critize the white population, or portray the black community as victims, or useful pawns in trying to get certain individuals elected.

  4. Posted February 1, 2007 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    “I disagree with Sam on the N&R being part of the problem of local race relations, much less creating them.”

    Perhaps lasik would help with your myopia on this subject.

  5. Posted February 1, 2007 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    If you’re payin’, I’ll go under the knife, er… laser, Bub.

    Thanks for your perspective, Jerrold. Us old farts need to hear from you more often even if we disagree.

  6. Posted February 1, 2007 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    David, I will concede your point that “different publications take different points-of-view”, the N&R included despite their consistent denials.

  7. Posted February 1, 2007 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    I might also add that I wouldn’t blame the messenger if they didn’t get it wrong so often and refuse to correct the record when they do. They seem to create a theme and then build the story around that theme to the exclusion of contrary evidence. Witness Feinsilver, Wray, and most recently, the Guilford College story.

  8. Posted February 1, 2007 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    So… might we expect a billion or so words to be written to the editor and publisher of the Rhino, Peacemaker and Yes!? Or are you just an opportunists who jumps on those who are most accessible?

    You say, ” they create a theme and then build the story around that theme to the exclusion of contrary evidence.” So then be an equal opportunity blamer or at least become a better read citizen.

    I can’t recall how you jumped on the Rhiino when they raked Deena Hayes over the coals on their accusations about her boyfriend and business relationships. I don’t recall your indignation when the Peacemaker was publishing reports from that jerk out of Wilmington during the early days of the Duke lacrosse mess.

    You have a blog… use it for something useful besides your snore-inducing diatribes against a single, available, and willing adversary.

    Be fair about it, Sam.

  9. Posted February 1, 2007 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have a strong opinion about the NR…but I sure as heck hope that those times when they are right that the chief moaners and groaners follow their own advice and sing great praises to JR and the NR. Otherwise….sigh….

  10. Posted February 1, 2007 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Amen to your sigh, meb.

    Credibility is only acquired through fairness. ‘Loyal opposition’ only goes so far with me too.

  11. The CA
    Posted February 1, 2007 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    “I can’t recall how you jumped on the Rhino when they raked Deena Hayes over the coals on their accusations about her boyfriend and business relationships. I don’t recall your indignation when the Peacemaker was publishing reports from that jerk out of Wilmington during the early days of the Duke lacrosse mess.”

    How is the Rhino story you mentioned creating or couching a story in terms of racism? The Duke story does have allegations about race that are integral to the story- the accuser claiming she was called racial epiphets. Beyond that, I don’t read the Peacemaker very often so I can’t comment on those specific stories you refer to. I will say that The Rhino and The Peacemaker have a definite point of view- they admit it, the N&R consistently denies that they do. That is a huge difference. It’s dishonest when they pass off bias as straight news.

  12. The CA
    Posted February 2, 2007 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    RE: your last part. Ed Cone thinks that’s him. Now you’re telling me it’s the N&R. I am obviously not alone in my sentiments as the comments on JR’s thread, this thread and my thread demonstrate. Not to mention the number of Rhino readers out there.

    And I am fair to the N&R. I don’t disagree with JR about everything, or Allen or Doug or Joe. I have no choice but to disagree with Lex because he’s usually wrong.

  13. Posted February 2, 2007 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    The Rhino didn’t couch “a story in racism” with the Deena Hayes slam but they did what you accuse others of doing. Namely, they, (your words here) “create(d) a theme and then buil(t) the story around that theme to the exclusion of contrary evidence.”

    Shocking, huh?

    I might suggest that you read the Peacemaker if you want to be truly, completely, versed on local points of view – but whatever….

    How’s about this, Sam.

    You know, I know, (they probably suspect), and everybody else knows that the N&R staff has a point of view on everything… EVERYTHING. You see, behind it all, “they” are human and can’t escape that desite your constant imploring and criticisms.

    Due to the fact that they are the ‘newspaper of record’ they can NEVER admit to any bias no matter how much you implore them to to do so. That is mainly due to the fact that they truly believe they are above reproach on that subject and exhibit fairness in their reporting.

    And they succeed in that as well as can be expected.

    I don’t blame you for demanding unbiased perfection from the N&R, I hope for it too. But get real. Reporters and editors there and everywhere have a point of view might clash with yours… and sometimes mine… but I am a thinking, inquisitive person and don’t always settle for the daily narrative that is easily discovered.

    I take all my news with a grain of salt. But where the N&R is concerned, you seem to gulp them down with such resentment that I think it is going to choke you to death.

  14. The CA
    Posted February 2, 2007 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    David, it’s funny how everybody I criticize can make a claim that somehow I am so obsessed with them that it controls my life or as you say, “chokes” me to death. It’s getting to the point where it’s becoming clear that I am simply not supposed to be criticizing anyone. The N&R, Ed Cone, etc because if I do, it suddenly becomes an “obsession”. I don’t know if this is a concerted effort to discredit me or what, but in any case, it is false.

    I don’t criticize the N&R about everything. There are a number of good things about the N&R that they do very well. There is nothing wrong at all with most of the paper, even in the News division. However, this racial obsession is one area where I refuse to yield. I truly believe that there is an agenda at the N&R that causes them to hype these stories. I truly believe this is damaging to the reputation of this city and to the efforts by people to get along racially. It is much more difficult to do when there is this suspicion of racism in nearly everything constantly hanging in the atmosphere in large part by the racial themes presented in the N&R and also as you point out, by some leaders in our are who also play that card.

    The N&R is real big on digging for racial angles, reporting on racist hype, and not correcting the record when the boy cries wolf.

    I have not chosen to pick a fight with the N&R. I have ran for office twice in this area, and the first time, the N&R actually had some good things to say about me. I know that it is usually not a wise thing to take on the local media if you are planning on running for office because they have a lot of power to cause you harm. I don’t take my criticisms of the N&R lightly because I am aware of the potential for adverse consequences should I decided to run for office again. My criticism of the N&R on this issue of race is deeply felt and I believe is supported by the evidence. I criticize them not for sport, or to run my mouth, or because I can as has been suggested, but because I truly believe that what they do is a bad thing for improving race relations in this area. I am not alone in this sentiment.

  15. tony
    Posted February 3, 2007 at 1:42 am | Permalink

    I’ll take it a step further and say that I believe they are not only one of the problems, but the WORST problem this community has when it comes to race relations. (and that includes Skip “the white milk on my cereal is racist” Alston)
    Hogg, can you honestly say that they do not create racially angled stories that are not racial in fact and continuously cram them down our throats?

  16. Posted February 3, 2007 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Yes I can, tony.

    They report the news and unfortunately the news around here has a lot of racial angles a lot of the time. They would be slammed from a different direction if they ignored it.

    You are focused way too much on the messengers around here. Spend a little time on fixing the message and it will be much more productive.

  17. Posted February 3, 2007 at 9:43 am | Permalink



    Race has always been — and unfortunately, always will be — the live grenade Greensboro juggles in the room. I think what you’re seeing played out in our supposedly progressive city is what’s happening nationwide. Folks are incredibly skeptical of their media outlets, and they believe we all have some agenda to sell papers or boost ratings.

    And that’s OK. Man, we all need that kind of dialogue to keep we in the MSM on our toes. And in our local rough-and-tumble blogosphere, I’m intrigued to see all the conspiracy theories tossed about on about what the N&R does and why the newspaper does it. But I have two words for those folks quick with their keyboards: You’re wrong.

    In my 17 years at the N&R, I’ve never seen us push any sort of agenda other than digging for what’s happening in and around our backyard. And sometimes, it ain’t pretty. We’re watchdogs for God’s sake.

    Granted, we’ve done some things wrong. We’ve stumbled. And in the past six years, we’ve had to do more with less people and less resources. But at the N&R, there has never been some intentional move where editors gather in some windowless room and dispatch their reporters out to push some point of view. And there sure isn’t some rogue columnist or rogue reporter running around to find the latest place to throw the race card.

    At least not from where I sit. And from my prairie-dog cubicle, you think I’d have seen that by now. And if it was, I would be out on the next bus, taking my family with me. But quite honestly, many of us at the N&R follow that worn journalistic adage: “Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.” If that’s an agenda, well, color me guilty.

    So, Tony, we’re not trying to, as you write, “cram it down our throats.” We’re just trying to do our damn job the best way we can in a Southern city where race is a riptide that tugs constantly at people navigating the halls of power around us.

    But if you don’t believe me, Tony, that’s cool. But after reading all these dispatches here and on other blogs, I couldn’t sit by and be siletn. OK, debate away.

  18. Posted February 3, 2007 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    But Jeri – you aren’t to be believed by tony and the like because of where your paycheck comes from.

    I really believe that many of the more … strident … bloggers here, and many in the community at-large believe you guys have bi-weekly meetings just to make sure you are all “on message”. That message being… whatever they think it is that they don’t want to hear about.

    Did you get to try on the Donkey Suit? I’m jealous.

    BTW, Jeri, I missed you at last Thursday’s message meeting. JR was livid that Lorraine was working on a story that didn’t mention race relations atall. You shoulda heard him go on about it.

  19. Posted February 3, 2007 at 8:12 pm | Permalink


    I did miss Thursday’s meeting. Damn.

    Now, remember, don’t show anyone the secret handshake. Just get me away from the coffee when I’m pounding on a blog response on a Saturday morning after four cups of coffee. “Less people.” Huh? Where is that “fewer” key on the keyboard when I need it.

    As for the donkey suit, yeah, I tried on the head. The damn thing is hilarious. Can hardly see a thing. And I swear, people got freaky funky when they see it.

    But the funniest thing is what I heard this morning. After a handful of columns dealing with death, the loss of our corporate HQs and the local response to the Iraq War, I thought I’d have some fun. Hell, I needed it. Just some levity. So I tailed a guy in a donkey suit on the UNCG campus twice last week. Just for grins and giggles. Just something funny. The day before the Super Bowl. On a Saturday. Just to make people chuckle about the life around us.

    Then, I get this phone call this morning from an astute N&R reader about being “half a fag” for writing a “stupid-ass article.”

    Hmmmmm. OK.

    As Robert Plant said, back when purple bell-bottoms were the epitome of rock ‘n’ roll cool in the mid 1970s, “Does anybody remember laughter?”

    I just know I can’t miss any more meetings. Gotta get back on message and fix that computer chip in my head.

    Have a good Sunday. Go Horseshoe Heads!

  20. The CA
    Posted February 3, 2007 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    The problem with the mantra that Greensboro is somehow uniquely troubled with racial ills is that it is a myth. There are no more racial problems in Greensboro then anywhere else that I can tell and I’ve lived in a few places. The difference in Greensboro is that there is the idea of a great racial strife with little evidence to support it. Sure there is political posturing by leaders with racial overtones, but I don’t think the average person on the street sees this city as a hotbed of racial division, black or white. There does seem to be an agenda to get us to think that way by throwing that theme out there over and over even when the facts in any given specific case almost always prove to be false.

    Quite simply, we will believe there is a huge racial divide if we’re told there is enough times, even if we don’t experience it in our daily lives. That is the destructive force that the N&R and some of our leaders have brought into the picture. Individuals are trying to make progress in race relations every day in the way they lead their lives and treat others only to be given a new reason to be skeptical about improvement. They may not experience it harshly on their individual level, but they cannot be blamed for believing that their neighbor must be feeling it.

    The cries of a city run rampant with racism are many, the evidence to support it is little. The devil is in the details and frequently the specifics are lacking. Nobody can say with specificity what makes Greensboro a racially divided city, yet they make the blanket claim that it is over and over again to the detriment of reality, the truth, and the individual acts of people who for the most part seem to be doing a fine job of eliminating bigotry in Greensboro and in other cities across the country.

  21. Posted February 3, 2007 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    Let’s all just shut up about it and it will all go away.

    I got it, Sam.


  22. The CA
    Posted February 4, 2007 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Tell me where IT is, David, and what evidence you have that IT is worse in Greensboro than elsewhere? Nobody is saying their aren’t bigots in this area, but the idea that this is a hotbed of racism is more hype than substance. If you believe otherwise, please cite specific examples and how widespread those examples are. Otherwise, you are just giving into the concept rather than the facts.