NC State Senator: Press Wages ‘Jihad’ When Doing Its Job (TWEETS, VIDEO)

It’s no secret that a large number of Republican politicians from Donald Trump on down hate the press. Really, really, really, hate the press. To hear them talk, the press should sit down and shut up until it figures out why Trump won. Moreover, they’d have you believe that the press shouldn’t tell the truth because it could actually endanger democracy. If that isn’t enough, they also think anyone who criticized Trump during the campaign should be fired.

Well, a Republican state senator in North Carolina took it to a new level. In his eyes, when newspapers and television stations produce even mildly critical stories, they’re no different from terrorists.

Dan Bishop represents North Carolina’s 39th Senate District, centered around the wealthier portions of south Charlotte. He served one term in the state house of representatives before moving up to the state senate last November. You may know him as the primary author of North Carolina’s infamous House Bill 2, the odious “bathroom bill” that was rammed through the state legislature in a mere 12 hours.

But Bishop added an even more odious item to his resume on Wednesday morning, when he read The Associated Press’ writeup of Karen Handel’s victory speech in the special election for Tom Price’s former congressional seat. The story noted that Handel thanked Trump at the same time that she promised to reach out to the supporters of her opponent, Jon Ossoff. Apparently that didn’t sit too well with Bishop.

Well, that’s interesting. Saying that Handel thanked Trump in the same breath that she promised to build bridges in her district is an act of terrorism?

Bishop hit the ceiling again on Wednesday night, when The (Raleigh) News & Observer revealed that the Republicans used the state budget to launch a renewed assault on Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s power. The budget limits Cooper’s ability to hire private attorneys if he decides to challenge legislation in court. It also requires the state attorney general–currently Josh Stein, a Democrat–to defend the legislature in the event of such a suit. At the same time, it slashes the state Department of Justice’s budget by over $10 million–a move that Stein contends will force him to lay off over a hundred full-time staffers, including several attorneys.

It’s the latest attempt by the Republican-dominated legislature to clip Cooper’s wings. How did Bishop respond? He told N&O state government reporter Colin Campbell–whose byline didn’t appear on this story–that his paper had turned jihadist.

Hearing that kind of language from an elected official would send a chill down anyone’s spine. But Bishop’s screeds were particularly ill-timed. Flags across North Carolina have been flying at half-staff in honor of Corporal Dillon Baldridge, who was killed in Afghanistan last week while fighting actual jihadists.

So it made sense for Nick Ochsner of WBTV in Charlotte to call it out.

Bishop didn’t seem to understand what the fuss was about.

The message was obvious to Ochsner–Bishop was doubling down.

It was also obvious to Campbell.

But just in case there was any doubt, Bishop erased it.

Michael Gaff, editor of Charlotte magazine, was particularly appalled that Bishop would even think it was acceptable to defend the use of the term “jihad” to Ochsner, whose father was blown up by an IED in Afghanistan in 2005.

But Bishop still didn’t think that was a problem.

State Representative Grier Martin, a Raleigh Democrat and reserve lieutenant colonel who fought in Afghanistan in 2002 and 2003, offered his condolences to Campbell.

Even in a legislature that seems to be on a quadruple-time march to the right, Bishop’s comments went too far for members of both parties, as WCNC-TV in Charlotte revealed on Thursday night.

State Senator Joel Ford, a Charlotte Democrat, said that elected officials “have to take the good from the bad” in the press. He denounced Bishop’s tweets as “irresponsible.” Ford’s sentiments were echoed by Jeff Tarte, a Cornelius Republican–one of two Republicans representing a significant part of increasingly heavily Democratic Charlotte in the state senate. Tarte said that elected officials have an obligation to “act as good role models on social media.”

However, state senate president pro tem Phil Berger didn’t get the memo. Through a spokesperson, Berger said that while he wouldn’t have used the same words as Bishop, he understood Bishop’s consternation with “the overt liberal bias” from North Carolina’s press. As evidence, he called out the media’s silence when former NAACP president William Barber called Republican lawmakers “all-white extremists” and “hijackers.” No, Phil. Bishop’s comments were despicable, period.

For his part, Bishop isn’t backing down. When one of his supporters urged him to keep his back up, Bishop responded with an ugly twist on the war cry inspired by Elizabeth Warren being gagged in the Senate.

Bishop might live to regret his ugliness sooner than you think. His territory is a mix of country-club Republican turf in and around Charlotte itself, and more fundified territory in the suburbs. Indeed, it was one of the earliest areas of the South to turn Republican. I know this area–my high school, Myers Park High School, is located here, and a number of my friends from high school and Carolina grew up here.

That changed in 2016, when it swung over dramatically to support Hillary Clinton. According to Daily Kos’ database of state legislative election data, Hillary won the district 50.1-46.6–a marked turnabout from Mitt Romney defeating Barack Obama 58-41 in 2012. What makes this even more staggering is that this district was drawn to grab most of the ancestrally Republican territory in southeast Charlotte. This is a long-winded way of saying that if the Democrats can find and fund a candidate here, Bishop could potentially pay the ultimate political price for his outrageous tweets.

But it’s not too soon to hold Bishop to account. Give him an earful on Twitter, or drop him a line at his campaign Website and demand that he apologize. You can also drop him a line at his state senate email, Dan.Bishop at ncleg dot net.

(featured image courtesy Bishop’s Facebook)

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.