by Sam Hieb
Headline of today’s N&O lead editorial:
We invited the NC governor and Senate leader to debate Medicaid expansion. One side said no.
Above that headline is a picture of Sen. Phil Berger, which would lead you to believe—am I wrong here?—that Berger was the ‘side that said no.’ To be fair, the N&O opens:
Last month, in the early days of North Carolina’s budget stalemate, Senate leader Phil Berger issued an invitation to Gov. Roy Cooper. Let’s have a debate, Berger said, about the issue that was holding everything up — Medicaid expansion. He’s repeated the call since.
The governor, along with most everyone else, ignored the invitation — in part because the governor’s office and others believed that behind-the-scenes talks would be a more fruitful path. Those talks, however, have gone nowhere. The budget is still in legislative limbo. Cooper and Berger are firing off news releases that blame each other for the lack of movement. We’re stuck. Let’s try to change that.
The N&O’s effort to get the Medicaid expansion issue unstuck is to sponsor a debate between Berger and Cooper:
Today, we’re inviting the governor and Senate leader to have a one-hour debate next month on Medicaid expansion in North Carolina. We’ll supply the venue in Raleigh, and we’ll provide a livestream for anyone who wants to watch from home. We recommend a traditional debate format — opening statements, two minute responses to questions from a moderator, then closing statements. We’ll provide one moderator, but because our editorial board has advocated for Medicaid expansion, we welcome a recommendation from Mr. Berger for a second person to ask questions.
But it’s not until the last paragraph that we read “Cooper spokeswoman Sadie Weiner told us the governor is not going to debate, and that Republicans should respond to Cooper’s compromise budget proposal.”
I get it–what good is a debate sponsored by a newspaper going to do at this point when the situation obvious–both sides are dug in. But tell me I’m not getting old an cynical when I suggest that the N&O wants readers to believe that it’s Berger who doesn’t want to debate the issue with some simple photo editing. Besides, the few people even glancing at the N&O’s editorials read the whole thing, right?