North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr — who joked about Hillary Clinton being covered by a bullseye — has cut off The News & Observer, which serves the Raleigh metropolitan area and is the second largest newspaper in North Carolina, because he claimed it was providing unfair coverage of his campaign.
“Paul (Shumaker, Burr’s lead political strategist) put an embargo on sending you scheduling details until you demonstrate the ability to cover this race from a balanced point of view,” said Jesse Hunt, spokesman for the Burr campaign, in a Monday email to the paper. Although Hunt adds that the paper won't be banned from attending Burr's campaign events, it won't be told about them.
The ban comes less than a week after The News & Observer ran a story about Burr missing an important Senate Armed Services Committee meeting about an expensive military aircraft in order to attend a campaign fund-raiser. It also mentioned that Burr had missed 58 of the 84 Armed Services Committee hearings held in 2009 and 2010.
This came up in Hunt's email, which mentioned that the ban “applies to you because Colin Campbell [author of The News & Observer's story] and The News & Observer have failed to cover the Senate race objectively and on its own merits.”
The News & Observer's story was validated by The Huffington Post, which discovered that Burr had missed 70 percent of the committee's meetings, often to attend fundraisers.
The Senate race between Burr and his opponent, former ACLU lawyer Deborah Ross, is neck-and-neck, with RealClearPolitics averaging out Burr's lead to less than a single percentage point.