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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A follow-up to a story we told you earlier this month about candidates in Columbus and Bladen Counties hiring people to get out the vote during elections. District Attorney candidate Jon David went on the record with us saying it’s a bad idea. The Whiteville News Reporter took our story and expanded on it, but reported that David also tried to hire some help. While tracking down more information, we found that the reporter who covered the story for the paper made a campaign contribution to David’s opponent.

The Whiteville News Reporter’s Bob High wrote this article last week, which painted David in a rather unflattering light. David has been critical of the get-out-the-vote practice in which candidates, including his opponent Butch Pope, have spent thousands of dollars paying people to round up votes. But the article implies David tried to recruit McRae Dowless, a convicted felon who’d already been hired by Pope, to help with his campaign.

“There’s apparently an allegation that I met Mr. Dowless at a public event where there were hundreds of people present,” David said. “It wouldn’t be uncommon for me to walk up and speak to people, ask for their support and ask for their family’s support, but the suggestion that I tried to hire him or anybody else for get out the vote is simply wrong, and I deny that.”

Despite the fact that David told High the allegations were untrue and Dowless’s criminal record casts doubt on his credibility, High reported Dowless’s allegations as if they were fact. He cited corroboration from an unnamed third source.

We then found out that High has contributed money to Pope’s campaign. It’s a practice that’s strictly banned by many media outlets. We contacted a journalism ethics professor at UNC Chapel Hill to help explain why.

“The conflict of interest may arise if someone is contributing to a particular campaign or a cause, but the perception may be, whether it’s true or not, the perception may be that this individual is in someway biased and not able to be objective in their reporting,” Dr. Lois Boynton said.

Boynton said the closer a journalist is to the front lines, the more important it is for them to remain impartial.

We spoke with High this afternoon, and he told us his wife made the contribution from their joint account. The campaign report makes no mention of his wife, and we’re told this is not the first candidate High has contributed to.

The owner of the News Reporter, James High, who is no relation to Bob, also has contributed more than $500 to Pope’s campaign so far during this election.

Comment on this Story

  • Guest

    Is there a place that I can find out if that is true?

  • columbus county son

    O could not Have said it better myself way to go. VOTE POPE

  • Guest371

    Beautiful … the Federal system pays to house people in jail who Jon David coins as adversaries to him, Bravo Jon ! Its much, much much ” cheaper ” to keep them ” in ” longer so these possible undermining people don’t bother holding signs for your opponents for future elections. Kinda like, well, Jon being on FEDERAL WELFARE with the FEDS underwriting the cost of Jon staying in his job !

  • guesty

    From Guest helmv “…get sick of them in New Hanover with all their high flying crap with all their paid time they spend on the phone with the Eastern District United States Attorney’s office trying to drum up federal charges…”

    So you are upset because they are doing their jobs? Wow, you must have been prosecuted by them in the past.

    If they get federal charges on a person, 1) they will get a longer jail term and stay in jail longer before any chance of parole 2) the cost will come out of the federal budget, not the state.

  • brunswickbeauty

    It amazes me that Jon David would manipulate situations in order to point fingers at Butch Pope when there is not ANYTHING he has negative on Butch. Jon David’s knowledge of this district, columbus, bladen, and brunswick counties does not hold a candlestick to Butch’s knowledge of what this district needs in the D.A.s office from the little towns to the big towns. Jon David probably doesn’t even know how to get to Hallsboro, white oak, or Winnabow. I bet Butch could drive there blindfolded. Just a note, DO NOT vote for a candidate based on news media, it’s not always accurate or fair, and many times what it takes to make a GOOD story isn’t always full of truthful facts.
    VOTE BUTCH POPE, he has no other political motives like is his candidate, I know Butch and have known Butch for over twenty years, and he wants to be your d.a. and make major changes to our criminal justice system, much needed changes

  • Guest helmv

    yeah he decided to get married too & put his wife to work in a job across the bridge to drum up votes. I think people got it all wrong on who’s coat-tail-who-is-riding. Jon is probably running for Brunswick so he and his brother Ben David will have a job once people get sick of them in New Hanover with all their high flying crap with all their paid time they spend on the phone with the Eastern District United States Attorney’s office trying to drum up federal charges against Everyone they can in Wilmington North Carolina.

  • Guest

    So you want to talk about ethics. Well, let’s talk about the ethics of the people that are in charge of educating these leaders of tomorrow (students). Their ethics have been thrown out of the schools when the devil took over the schools. Parents need to wake up and take a stand and make often visits to the classrooms and schools just to see and hear the ethics that are there.

  • Guest

    i cannot believe this is news. for some reason, wway tv3 is very slanted against certain people in columbus and brunswick counties.

    on a separate note, jon david has no business running for DA in this district. he works in new hanover for his brother and has never worked a day in his life in brunswick, columbus, or bladen counties, has done nothing significant for those communities, but he thinks he deserves to be our DA just because he moved across the river in order to be able to run for our DA? what a joke. why don’t you report about that WWAYTV3?

  • Retlaw

    Mr. High has a history of controlling and slanting the news. He did a report last year about a burned out home in downtown Whiteville. He quoted the mayor who misstated facts about an insurance policy. When I questioned him about it via letter to the editor, he changed my report and reduced it to 200 words or less. Just a week before, a black male sent a report about his rights being violated at the Columbus Regional Medical Center because he could no longer smoke on campus. The letter was almost a half of a page in the News Reporter. Mr. High is biased and always has been!!!

  • don6977

    You gotta be kidding me. The Media? Biased??? And this is news? Come on people, this is news????. Give me a break. This guy just got caught, that’s all. The mainstream media has been picking politicians for years. Find me one media outlet that doesn’t participate in this one way or another and I’ll withdraw my surprise. When was the last time any “reporter” actually did the research and reported the unbiased, unvarnished truth? Media Biased? Whoda thunk!!!

  • John Difloure

    If High isn’t fired, people should cancel their subscriptions. Talk about sleaze!

  • Guest

    Hey Idiot,

    How would you suggest he be fired when He owns the paper and most of the politicians in Columbus County….

    BTW: WWAY is the ONLY media that reports the facts about Columbus County Good Ole Boys Politics….

    Smoke that in your pipe…

  • Guest

    I think it is ironic that WWAY is accusing another media outlet of biased reporting. WWAY is nothing more than tabloid television. Your “news” programs and biased, libelous website rank alongside Extra, Entertainment Tonight and TMZ. Actually, I would put more stock in the news I get from their programs and websites. Your base personal attacks serve no real purpose and are unprofessional. I hope that one day you will be able to rise above tabloid journalism and produce something worth reading or watching. Until then all the public has to look forward to from you is more libelous garbage. No thank you.

  • guest 1121

    Just look at the rooms these two candidates were interviewed in, within the ‘newsroom’. Haha, one is interviewed in the kitchen it appears and the other is sitting on a nice sofa! Too funny! Biased, you’d say?

  • off the cuff

    Seems Jon David has got to try to dig up dirt somewhere. I never, ever vote for mud slingers Jon….many other voters feel the same way.

    Don’t tell me what the other guy has done wrong, tell me what you plan to do that would be better. I know enough about dirt without you helping me out!!

  • Pope supporter

    MR. HIGH, THE NEWS REPORTER, CONTRIBUTED TO JON DAVID’S CAMPAIGN 4 YEARS AGO WHEN HE RAN AGAINST AND LOST TO REX GORE. So, where is that reporting, WWAY? Why is it suddenly unethical for High to support Mr. Pope?
    Who has been “put in a rather unflattering light?’ WWAY is contributing everyday to Mr. David with their BIASED, PARTIAL reporting! Obviously they are PARTIAL to the wrong man! VOTE POPE!

  • GHarrelson

    Why is it that everyone is worrying about what happened years ago? We are talking about today and the future of our kids and thier kids. People has made this into some middle school drama that I would expect my kids to come home with. It is crazy. Butch Pope is the best man for this plain and simple. Jon David has tried before he failed..Now all he knows to do is put others down to try to slide his way in. Please sit back and let us have a real man as DA.

  • Guest4567

    In The News Reporter article Mr. Pope is quoted as saying,”I didn’t check Dowless’ criminal record because there was no need to do it. The man has paid his debt to society.”

    It tells me that Pope was aware that Dowless was a habitual criminal, and that Dowless is the kind of person Pope wants to be associated with and be the face of his campaign.

    If Pope is elected, will he take the time to check the past criminal record of those he is prosecuting, or will just say, “He’s paid his debt. Let’s give him another chance.”

  • Shockandawww

    Seriously??? Really???

    Did you read the article??

    Mr High only reported what the WORKER said….


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