Fact Check: Did McCrory defend Black Lives Matter protests and condemn Trump supporters?
It’s time for a fact check of North Carolina politics. This week, we turn our attention to next year’s U.S Senate race. A new 30-second attack ad targets Republican candidate and former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory by suggesting he supports Black Lives Matter protestors while condemning supporters of former President Donald Trump. The ad pulls audio clips of McCrory speaking on his radio show in which he says, “People rightfully protested for Black Lives Matter” and, “Riots by Republicans. Who in the hell do they think they are?”
For a closer look, we turn to Paul Specht of WRAL.
Marshall Terry: First, Paul, who's behind this ad? And where do those clips of McCrory come from?
Paul Specht: This ad is from Club for Growth Action. That's the political action committee associated with the Club for Growth, and that's a Washington-based antitax group is sort of how they're known. This election, they're throwing their weight behind Congressman Ted Budd, who's also running for U.S. Senate in North Carolina against McCrory and against former Congressman Mark Walker. They're hoping to give Ted Budd a boost. The thinking here is that he doesn't have as much name recognition yet as Pat McCrory, and these clips come from his radio show from WBT Radio with his co-host Bo Thompson.
Terry: OK, so you took a closer look at both of those clips of McCrory we heard a moment ago. Let's start with the first one where he said people rightfully protested for Black Lives Matter. Now, that makes it sound like he supports those protesters. Is that true?
Specht: No, it's not true. This clip comes from McCrory's Jan. 7 radio show, and people will recognize that date's the day after people tried to storm the U.S. Capitol. And so this particular quote comes from a longer rant, if you will, a longer point that McCrory was trying to make about what he called a mob mentality — like what happens when there is a protest and then some people get out of hand and the situation kind of devolves from there. He was not saying that he supports Black Lives Matter.
TODAY: Pat McCrory says there "it only takes five to twenty people" to cause destruction within a peaceful demonstration. #MTP #IfItsSunday@PatMcCroryNC: "You’re dealing with people with legitimate protests. But you’re also dealing with people who are basic terrorists." pic.twitter.com/74C6qcboKb— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) May 31, 2020
In fact, he was saying that he saw mobs get out of hand during Black Lives Matter protests. He said, "I think a lot of these protesters didn't plan to get violent," and I'm paraphrasing his quote here, but "when you follow the mob, you become part of the mob. I saw this during protests in Charlotte, where people rightfully protested for Black Lives Matter. But then they didn't stop other people from breaking windows. They didn't defend the police, and I saw that same thing happened yesterday in Washington, D.C." And that's my paraphrase of his quote, but you can see he's not making a defense of the Black Lives Matter group. He's telling you what he saw during their protests, so that's definitely taken way out of context here.
Terry: Now what about the other clip where he said, "Riots by Republicans? Who the hell do they think they are?" What was he referring to there?
Specht: This is actually two quotes again from the same episode, Jan. 7. He's talking about the people who stormed the Capitol, but this is not one coherent thought, as presented in the Club for Growth Action ad. This actually comes from different parts of that episode. The "riots by Republicans" comes earlier in his episode. He says — and again, I'm paraphrasing for the sake of brevity here — he said, "A few weeks ago, I said I was proud to see, since Donald Trump was defeated, that there were no riots by Republicans."
Our police being thrown under the bus defending our Iives and property while they are being verbally and physically abused and murdered during riots.The governors, mayors, media, clergy, business leaders criticize and then take them for granted when they need protection! Shame— Pat McCrory (@PatMcCroryNC) June 4, 2020
That's, again, a paraphrase of his quote, but that's where that "riots by Republicans" snippet comes from. And then four minutes later, he'd moved on from that particular quote and started talking about how it was shameful — his words — to watch protesters go after police. And so the "who did they think they are?" quote comes from about the seven-minute mark of this, and again, the "riots by Republicans" was about four minutes earlier.
And McCrory says here, "To see protesters during this past year and now yesterday at the Capitol, going to the chambers of the House of Representatives, it felt like an assault on our government, and then to see police officers defending themselves and having to spray individuals who were attacking them. That's inexcusable." And that's when he said, "Who in the hell do they think they are carrying an American flag and assaulting a police officer?"
So, here he's not condemning all Trump supporters or all Republicans who protest. He's talking about a very specific number of people who stormed the Capitol and then were assaulting police officers. So, we think that context is very important and really paints a different picture of what he was talking about than the ad does.
Mob rule and violence was unacceptable in our cities across our country this past year and it is even more unacceptable today in our nations Capital. We must support peaceful transition of power together! I did it as a governor and our President must do the same. God bless USA.— Pat McCrory (@PatMcCroryNC) January 7, 2021
Terry: Now, did you reach out to Club for Growth Action — again, this group whose behind this ad?
Specht: We did, multiple times, and they didn't get back to us.
Terry: Now, what about McCrory? What has he said about this particular ad?
Specht: You know, he has pointed out that the group is from Washington and said when he was governor, and even after being governor, he has condemned violence from both ends of the political spectrum consistently. His spokesman told us the real audio — the full audio — makes it clear that he condemns violence at the Capitol, he condemns violent protests no matter who it is — this is his quote to us — and he's done so publicly on countless occasions with respect to Black Lives Matter, too.
Terry: So, how did you rate this ad?
Specht: This fits the definition for a mostly false claim. And what that means is there's an element of truth here, but when you take something like this out of context and ignore critical facts, like the fact that McCrory was not defending Black Lives Matter and the fact that McCrory was specifically condemning people who assault police officers, and not Republicans, you give people very misleading impression, and that's why this is mostly false.
Terry: All right, Paul, thank you.
Specht: Thank you.