When Politicians Attack - Word&Way

When Politicians Attack

“Your accusation that I had ‘another campaign event’ is a slanderous lie.”

Former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, who is currently seeking the GOP nomination for the open U.S. Senate seat in North Carolina, sent that message to one of us (Brian) on Sunday, March 27. We wrote about Walker’s strategy of campaigning in churches the week before — including noting the egregious incident of a church even playing a Walker campaign ad during the worship service.

So, after Walker posted on Twitter about being in another church, Brian tweeted out a link to our piece with the note: “Another Sunday means another Mark Walker campaign event during a worship service. This isn’t good for our churches.”

That innocuous tweet sparked a direct message later that day from Walker, who questioned Brian’s Christian faith and threatened some sort of exposure for our reporting.

All this caught the attention of WNCN, the CBS affiliate in Raleigh, North Carolina. The station ran a report Tuesday night featuring comments from both the former congressman and Brian, as well as a nice screenshot of A Public Witness (which we’re sending to our parents to show we’re famous).

Screengrab of A Public Witness appearing in WNCN’s report on April 5, 2022, about Mark Walker campaigning in churches.

In the segment, Brian talked about the problem of candidates politicking in churches while Walker repeated his claim that “what you’re doing is slanderous, it is a lie because I was not doing a campaign event.”

There’s just one problem with that argument: Walker is lying.

We know it might surprise you to hear about a politician accusing someone else of doing what that politician is actually guilty of, but that’s exactly what’s going on. This case is particularly sad since Walker was a Baptist pastor before entering politics. Despite prominently putting his faith on display throughout the campaign, Walker struggles to obey the 9th commandment.

While Walker claimed he didn’t campaign because he didn’t preach that morning at Currytown Baptist Church in Lexington, the pastor in the sermon repeatedly mentioned that Walker had just spoken to the congregation (apparently during the Sunday School hour). And from what the pastor referenced, it’s clear that Walker gave the same basic speech he rolled out at other church stops we watched for our report.

To put it simply: Walker campaigned in a church that morning and then lied about it as he attacked us for “a slanderous lie.” If you need more convincing that this was a campaign event despite Walker’s protests, note the campaign logo he put on the pictures of him at the church.

In this incident, we find some lessons worth unpacking. And this also shows the importance and impact of our reporting — which is only possible because of the support from the growing community of paid subscribers like you. So, in this issue of A Public Witness, we take you behind the scenes into why we’re covering stories like this.

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