Anonymous Reddit post, articles about ‘unruly’ NC lawmakers challenged

Media outlets like WRAL, the News & Observer and The Assembly based their stories off a Reddit post

This file photo shows barrels in a Bourbon aging warehouse. (FILE)
This file photo shows barrels in a Bourbon aging warehouse. (FILE)

RALEIGH — An anonymous post on the social media platform Reddit claiming North Carolina lawmakers were drunk and rude during a visit to an unnamed Kentucky distillery appears to have been blown out of proportion.

The post, written by an anonymous user called “ItIsCroy,” claimed lawmakers were rude, “unruly,” didn’t tip, vomited in a sink, showed up to the tour drunk and late, violated open container laws, and made no apologies for the alleged behavior.

“What should have been an opportunity to showcase our hospitality and craftsmanship turned into a display of appalling behavior that left us shocked and disappointed,” the post reads in part.

Reddit, ItIsCroy
Post from Reddit by anonymous user “ItIsCroy” claiming NC lawmakers had acted rudely at a Kentucky distillery.

Neither the distillery name nor the identity of “ItIsCroy” have been released.

A source familiar with the trip who did not want to be identified indicated to North State Journal that the distillery has refuted the claims in the Reddit post and that “ItIsCroy” is not an employee but a contract worker.

So what’s the truth and what’s not?

It is undisputed that a group of around 30 individuals that included some lawmakers went on a tour to a Kentucky distillery recently and that NCGOP Finance Director Sarah Newby was present but not there on behalf of the party.

The tour was organized by “Greater Carolina,” a 501 (c)(4) described as “supporting North Carolina being one of the best states in the nation for business and free enterprise.”

“ItIsCroy” mentions the “NCGOP finance director” in a least seven points in the post’s replies, however, in a positive manner, stating in one reply that, “She stood out because she was a lot nicer and more composed than the majority of the group.”

NCGOP Communications Director Matt Mercer said he has seen the posts and “can confirm it was not an NCGOP event or affiliated with the state party.” Mercer joined the NCGOP in March and is the former editor-in-chief of North State Journal.

After legacy media outlets in Raleigh such as WRAL and the News & Observer, along with newcomer online publication The Assembly, ran with the post’s claims, political consultant Jonathan Felts issued a statement on behalf of Greater Carolina discrediting the post and news articles based on it.

“Treating an anonymous social media commenter, best known for asking how to watch Sex in the City in Russian, as a credible source for a NC political story makes about as much sense as sourcing a wiener dog puppy about what it must have been like for the military dog who was rolling with Seal Team Six on the Bin Laden raid,” Felts told North State Journal about the news stories.

Felts’ press release offered his view of the distillery visit through the high-octane sarcasm he’s well known for in political circles. One of the responses in the release blasted local media for ginning up the anonymous post:

Well, we have an EXTREMELY CREDIBLE SOURCE who says the attendees at your event were terribly behaved and this really credible source has even questioned if taxpayer dollars were being used!!!

Just so we level-set and are all on the same page, what you label as a “credible source” is an anonymous social media account with the moniker “ItIsCroy” who was heretofore best known for asking for tips on how to watch Sex in the City dubbed in Russian. If the only criteria for being a “credible source” is now just being an anonymous social media troll with really bad taste in TV, then please join me in weeping for the state of journalism today.

Other key points from the release:

Were legislators at the event?
Of course. No offense to think-tankers and poli-sci profs but Greater Carolina deals in public policy so, yes, our donors want to talk to policymakers. Legislators were there.

Why won’t you name them?
Because I don’t have to per the letter of the laws that govern (c)(4)’s. And, no offense or anything, but while I, personally, find most of you to be perfectly charming, a lot of folks don’t like talking to journalists. I mean, you work in a business where the mantra is “If it bleeds, it leads.” Y’all might want to work on your pitch a bit.

Did a legislator barf everywhere as my anonymous Internet source/troll said?
No. One attendee was a bit queasy upon arrival due to getting car sick en route because the air conditioner was not working on the bus. The person then, fortunately, made it to the first thing that had a drain and vomited. Upon completion of the vomiting, the person and friends/colleagues helped to clean up.

Well, I’m a serious journalist working on a serious story here and the public HAS TO KNOW, are you bad tippers as our anonymous-Russian-Sex-in-the-City-social-media-poster alleges?!
No. A generous tip was included in the contract with the venue in question.

But, and we got you on this one…YOU WERE LATE! AND THAT’S RUDE!
Traffic was bad and we were late. Multiple apologies were offered upon arrival.

Felts’ answers to the Reddit post also knocked down aspersions about Greater Carolina being a “dark money group,” as inferred by some of the media outlets reporting on the story.

Is it…is IT…IS IT A REPUBLICAN DARK MONEY GROUP?!
No. Calm down. It’s a 501 (c)(4) set-up just like the Left-leaning Moving North Carolina Forward.
It’s technically non-partisan but the majority of policy wonks who support the free enterprise system tend to lean Right.

The full press release can be viewed here.

About A.P. Dillon 1293 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_