May 3, 2024

Carli Brosseau: The Making of Michele Morrow

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Michele Morrow is running for North Carolina’s superintendent of public instruction, and she’s doing it from a stance far, far on the religious right, backed by an assortment of far right figures. This profile is by far the best deep dive into Morrow. This is how bad it can get.

“Why do they fear you? Why do they hate you, ma’am?” Steve Bannon asked Michele Morrow, the Republican nominee for North Carolina’s superintendent of public instruction, in an appearance on his podcast, War Room, last month. It’s a version of Meet the Press for the far right, with special caché because Bannon was one of former President Donald Trump’s closest advisers.

Three weeks earlier, Morrow had defeated incumbent Catherine Truitt in what was widely regarded as North Carolina’s most surprising primary result. The win drew national attention; CNN covered Morrow’s thoroughly archived social media habit of calling for the execution of “traitors,” including Gov. Roy Cooper, President Joe Biden, and former President Barack Obama, whom she said she would like to see shot by a firing squad on pay-per-view.

Morrow had been busy defending herself using the can-you-believe-it tone that marks much of her online writing. On X, she’d responded to a CNN reporter’s post: “The insanity of the media demonstrates the need to teach K-12 students real history and critical thinking skills.” Her campaign manager posted an image of comedian Kathy Griffith holding a bloody mask resembling Trump, writing “Now they clutch pearls.”

A spokesperson told The News & Observer that Morrow’s past statements were “taken out of context, made in jest, or never made in the first place.” To The Assembly, they said that voters are “angry about the media’s attempt to change the subject of our failing education system.”

Morrow offered another take to Bannon, the godfather of the MAGA movement and probably its second-most consequential influencer, after Trump: “CNN has been the media arm” of the Democratic National Committee. “They have lied and smeared President Trump in an effort to destroy him, and I think I’m just next on the hit parade.”

“I think that the Democrats know that North Carolina is their top swing state, because we have so many unaffiliated voters,” she told him. “And the other thing is, I’ve been speaking truth.”

Morrow’s truth is peppered with lies, according to leaders in both political parties, but it coincides with ideas Bannon loves to hammer on War Room: that there’s a “radical agenda” in public schools that is “poisoning our children’s minds and keeping them from getting a good education.”

Her ascendancy has also neatly aligned with Bannon’s political prescriptions. He has promoted the “Precinct Strategy,” urging MAGA true believers to take low-level leadership positions in the GOP to fundamentally transform the party. Around the time that effort was heating up, Morrow told a local podcaster she was involved in a plan to turn the Wake County GOP into a “gathering of patriots.”

When Bannon called his listeners to Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021, to experience “living history,” Morrow showed up and live streamed.

Read the full piece here at The Assembly.

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