Monday, November 5, 2007

Edwards camp tries to kill UNC student's television report

The John Edwards for President campaign tried to kill a television news story done by a graduate student journalist at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, both the reporter and her professor say.

The Edwards campaign also threatened to cut off access to journalists from UNC-CH, according to assistant professor C.A. Tuggle.

A copy of the exclusive story broadcast today on the controversy by is available at is a service of the Curtis Media Group, North Carolina's largest independently owned radio syndicate.

The report is the work of Carla Babb, a second-year graduate student and Park Fellow at UNC-CH. Her story focuses on the affluent location of Edwards' campaign headquarters in Chapel Hill's Southern Village. Edwards also lives in Chapel Hill.

She says the location had been questioned by some students who thought it conflicted with the former North Carolina senator's stance on reducing poverty. Edwards founded the UNC School of Law's Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity.

Babb produced the report for "Carolina Week," a television news program run by the UNC-CH School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She also posted the two-and-a-half minute piece on YouTube as an entry for MTV's "Choose or Lose" contest.

After her story went online, Babb says the assistant communications director for Edwards' campaign called her to express the campaign's resentment over the report. She then referred the staffer to Professor Tuggle who oversees the "Carolina Week" program.

Professor Tuggle says he was then contacted by Edwards' communications director. Tuggle says he then showed the piece to his colleagues at the university and in the television news industry. His decision to air the story is supported by the school's dean, Dr. Jean Folkerts, among other colleagues. Tuggle maintains the phone calls from the Edwards camp continued, and subsequently threatened to cut off the university's access to the campaign.

An Edward's campaign spokesman declined to immediately comment on the controversy.

To view Babb's story, go to
UNC Professor Leroy Towns first reported the controversy on UNC School of Journalism's blog TalkPolitics.
For more information, contact general manager and editor Stephen Wissink at 919-818-0976 or , or reporter Josh Ellis at 919-961-5913 or

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