@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

NCGOP seeks ouster of UNC-TV host

Posted August 2, 2013

— The North Carolina Republican Party is calling on UNC-TV to break its ties with host and columnist D.G. Martin. 

Martin is the longtime host of the popular "NC Bookwatch" program on the statewide public television station. He's also a longtime political columnist whose left-leaning columns appear weekly in publications around the state. The two are separate ventures.

In his most recent column, Martin seems to compare supporters of Republican legislative leaders to apologists for the recently ousted Egyptian government and for the Nazi regime in Germany.

The column in question is titled "Egypt, Nazi Germany, and North Carolina," datelined July 29. 

"Similar explanations were made to explain away Nazi excesses when they took power in Germany in 1933 according to Erik Larson’s recent best seller, “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin,” based on the experience of North Carolina native William E. Dodd, who was U.S. Ambassador to Germany during this period.

"According to Larson, when the new Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels faced questions about abuse against Jews, he told reporters, “Let me explain how such a thing might occasionally happen,” Goebbels said. “All during the twelve years of the Weimar Republic our people were virtually in jail. Now our party is in charge and they are free again. When a man has been in jail for twelve years and he is suddenly freed, in his joy he may do something irrational, perhaps even brutal. Is that not a possibility in your country also?

"In our state, too?"

In a news release Friday, GOP Chairman Claude Pope called Martin's comparison to Nazi apologists "inexcusable, disgusting and shameful" and called on UNC-TV to suspend its broadcasts of Martin's show, lest his comments "damage the reputation of an otherwise upstanding organization."

“It’s a shame that UNC-TV televises such a divisive, toxic personality with our taxpayer funds,” Pope is quoted in the release.

"We call on UNC-TV to suspend this program while they evaluate their relationship with their host who made such an outrageous and damaging comparison. Such divisive hyperbole only serves to confuse and trivialize issues that are important to North Carolinians, who all deserve a formal apology,”  Pope said. 

"The apology needs to be delivered from the author to the people of North Carolina," added NCGOP spokesman Mike Rusher.

Martin apologizes

Reached by phone, Martin said he understands the GOP's point.

"I'm very sorry that I offended some people, and I apologize. Period," Martin said. 

UNC-TV Communications Director Steve Volstad released a statement late Friday, noting that Martin "has volunteered his time to host Bookwatch for more than 10 years." 

"Mr. Martin wrote an opinion piece in his own personal capacity. It was not written on behalf of UNC-TV. Mr. Martin is not an employee of UNC-TV and he is not compensated by UNC-TV," Volstad said. "He has apologized for the comments for which he has been criticized."

This isn't the first time the public television station has been pulled into political battles. In 2011, UNC-TV was involved in a controversy that resulted in state lawmakers forcing the station to hand over a report on alleged contamination of state waters by aluminum company Alcoa.

The station has no stake in or responsibility for Martin's columns.

295 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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  • razor2 Aug 4, 10:31 p.m.

    The NCGOP deserve every bit of bad publicity they get they earned
    it.... Just because Mr pope doesn't like what he said doesn't give
    the NCGOP the right to call for his dismissal. On a personal note I wish the whole NCGOP were made to resign if for nothing else being pro wealthy at the expense of the most vulnerable of this state. Naturally if would be too much to ask for them to represent all the people of this state not just those who happen to be rich or Corporate entities.

  • krimson Aug 4, 4:35 p.m.

    USCon = first amendment
    GOP = Boo-hoo

  • bmjteacher Aug 4, 9:38 a.m.

    Nazism is incorrect...fascist. And the sad thing McCrory is Pope's little Mussolini

  • sixnitepkg Aug 4, 8:20 a.m.

    So it's OK with you if Republicans call Obama a Nazi, a Communist and a mass murderer? You good with that?
    Wood Chipper

    no, because it's patently untrue... this is the problem, the GOP controlled supreme court said that lying is a first amendment right... but apparently telling the TRUTH is not...

  • cushioncritter Aug 4, 8:05 a.m.

    To the extent the NCGA funds any of the operating cost of UNC-TV such as electricity, salaries, benefits, etc., it can reasonably demand that UNC-TV not be a mouthpiece for the ousted democrat minority. Compare broadcast wattages for UNC-TV transmitters to commercial stations like WRAL, and see that the commercial stations only broadcast at a fraction of the UNC-TV power.

    Many have implied that the NC General Assembly has no financial role in UNC-TV, and there is no real transparency on the UNC-TV website on their funding pie chart, however, they do state:

    "the General Assembly, decided to include funding for UNC-TV’s digital conversion in the Higher Education Improvement Bond referendum, which was on the statewide election ballot in 2000. It was a bold proposal, with the $3.1 billion total making it the largest bond issue in the history of American higher education."

  • sixnitepkg Aug 4, 7:59 a.m.

    SCARY SCARY SCARY!!! the NC GOP is so much like Herr's Himmler, Goebels and Hitler that if you take out the word "jew" in speeches made by those infamous SS men and replace it with "liberal" they sound awfully and scarily similar!


    "Comparing the GOP to Nazi's is so patently stupid on it's face it isn't even worth arguing about." Wood Chipper

    Really? hmmm.... looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, guess what? IT'S A DUCK!!!

    "NAZI should become the next 'N' word."
    Logical Dude

    wow... more evidence that in a GOP controlled NC you can't admit the TRUTH or that simple common sense such as 2+2=4 or you can't call an apple an apple

  • christopher27519 Aug 3, 9:53 p.m.

    I agree with cjw...why should my tax dollars pay for such drivel...

  • peace2u Aug 3, 9:38 p.m.

    "I don't mind someone exercising their First Amendment rights, but not on my dollar."cjw6105

    This statement doesn't even make sense! LOL

  • peace2u Aug 3, 9:34 p.m.

    I love NPR and UNCTV so much that I am a sustainer--meaning I donate to them monthly. I find fheir programming far superior to the trash on most of TV and radio.

  • razor2 Aug 3, 9:18 p.m.

    Typical republicans dish it out but can't take it. Mr pope get
    over yourself . If the NCGOP didn't act so hateful and without
    regard for everyone but the wealthy things would be different.

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