Morning News Report; March 20, 2012

Before we get started today, allow me to wish Darrell Hanks — my awesome little brother — a happy birthday. He’s about the coolest person I know — seriously (even cooler than Jon Dawson? Yes!) – and arguably the best dad out there. Want to wish him a happy birthday, too? Check out his blog by clicking here. Happy birthday, Darrell!

And now … your MNR:


A press conference has been called by the Denver Broncos this afternoon to allegedly announce the signing of Peyton Manning to their roster.

Of course, this means the Broncos have two starting quarterbacks on their team — remember Tim Tebow? — meaning Denver is probably looking to trade the Chosen One.

My take: Gotta admit — I’m surprised because I figured Peyton would end up with Miami or Arizona. He’s 38 35 (thanks, Paul Thompson!), has a creaky neck and has ALWAYS played his home games in a dome. He DOES know it gets cold in the Mile-High City, right? Wondering how he’s going to do in December when it’s 10-below at game time.

That’s why I thought warm weather locales like Miami and Arizona (and even San Francisco, who got involved over the weekend) would be better fits. But hey, he knows best, right?

As for the trainwreck known as Tim Tebow, can’t wait to see what franchise he wrecks next. Probably Jacksonville, where his cult followers will sell out that ratty-ass stadium that has had to black out home games for several years now, although Miami is also listed as a possible destination (although the Dolphins signed former ECU QB David Garrard yesterday).


All eyes are on Illinois today as GOP front-runner Mitt Romney and underdog Rick Santorum battle it out for valuable delegates in one of President Obama’s home states.

My take: Admittedly, Santorum is making this a race worth watching, although the experts say he is merely forcing Romney to spend more money to win a nomination that is probably already Romney’s.

One argument I’ve heard against that though, is this: it didn’t hurt Obama when he and Hillary Clinton went head-to-head in 2008 … and that’s a pretty damned good argument. They kept their names in the news during what would’ve been meaningless primaries while John McCain ran away with the GOP nomination.


A female student had her throat stabbed this morning at Southern Nash High School by another female student.

My take: Yikes. Justin “The Kid” Hill and I spoke to a group of sixth-graders at Woodington Middle School last month and we ate in their lunchroom. I was shocked to learn that you couldn’t get a real knife, spoon or fork — you could only get one of those in the plastic variety.

Seriously? I had yummy Salisbury steak that day and nearly broke my plastic knife and plastic fork trying to eat it.

But it’s stories like this that make me realize that yes, it’s 2012 and we can’t allow kids to have silverware because they’ll stab each other with it. Wow.

The iPod shuffle

Millionaire — Kelis featuring Andre 3000

Your Love Is My Drug — Ke$ha

Megablast — Public Enemy

Union Of The Snake — Duran Duran

Live Your Life — T.I. featuring Rihanna

Afternoon News Report; March 9, 2012

Ok, it’s ACC Tournament Friday and I’m having trouble concentrating since every TV in our building is on the Carolina-Maryland game. Going to do this quickly!


Kinston’s Josh Dawson, who has helped lead the Vikings to tomorrow’s 2A state championship game in Raleigh, was named to the 2A all-state team today.

The 2A state player of the year, though, is Waxhaw Cuthbertson’s Shelton Mitchell — who Dawson and the Vikings face tomorrow for the title.

My take: I know Josh pretty well and the young man doesn’t need much motivation … but I think this might just be one of those things he’ll use tomorrow. Just sayin’.

And congrats to Josh — this is a well-deserved honor for the heart of Kinston’s team.

Also — don’t forget I’ll be blogging play-by-play from the game tomorrow; Ryan Herman will be tweeting the game (@KFPSports). I’m also helping with the pep rally at 2 p.m. today, so come on out if you have a chance.

Finally, if you haven’t checked out this podcast, featuring Wells Gulledge, Perry Tyndall and Ryan Herman, you’re cheating yourself. One of our best.


Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, one of the leading Democrats in the N.C. governor’s race, visited Kinston and The Free Press yesterday.

My take: While I still think he jumped into the pool a day early, I was pretty impressed with the lieutenant governor yesterday. He’s confident, well-spoken and ready to take on the presumptive GOP candidate, Pat McCrory. Should be a great race.


Leading GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is touring the Deep South — and is now saying “y’all” and eating grits.

My take: A bit funny, but he doesn’t need to try too hard. He certainly doesn’t need a Michael Dukakis in the tank photo that buried that candidate:


The iPod shuffle

I Will Buy You A New Life — Everclear

Melissa — The Allman Brothers Band

Just You ‘N’ Me — Chicago

Dip It Low — Christina Milian

Love Me Tender — Elvis Presley

Morning News Report; March 7, 2012


GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney won six of the 10 Super Tuesday primaries yesterday — including the key state of Ohio — while challenger Rick Santorum took three and Newt Gingrich won his home state of Georgia.

My take:While the pundits want to scream that this isn’t over, I can’t understand why folks don’t realize that it is.

Romney has more delegates than Santorum, Gingrich and Ron Paul combined. He’s exponentially outspending them. Unless there’s something in his closet that hasn’t come out yet — and I sincerely doubt that’s going to happen — Romney has the GOP nod wrapped up.

I’m not trying to go all conspiracy theorist on you here, but there’s one group who sincerely hopes this gets dragged out to the Republican National Convention in Tampa — Obama supporters. And who is characterized as being most closely aligned with Obama supporters? The alleged “mainstream media.”

While I don’t think CNN, Fox News and MSNBC (OK, I do believe MSNBC wants Obama reelected) are advocating for four more years of Obama, I know this much: as long as there are competitive GOP primary races, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC get better ratings — and more advertising dollars.

If the GOP was smart, though, they’d start concentrating on Obama instead of beating the hell out of each other the way they are now. I watched more political coverage last night than I have in the past year and couldn’t believe all the shots the four took at each other.

You know who loves that? Obama … and the networks. We have a poll up at asking which GOP candidate has the best chance of beating Obama — and the option “no one can beat Obama” is leading at 42 percent. Romney is “winning” at 28 percent, followed by Santorum (12 percent) and Gingrich (9) and Paul (9).


Today at noon, future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning will bid farewell to the Indianapolis Colts, a franchise for whom he won a Super Bowl.

Speculation is that he’ll end up signing with a new team soon; frontrunners include my beloved Washington Redskins, along with Miami, the New York Jets, Seattle, San Francisco, Kansas City and Arizona — among others.

My take: Honestly, I’d rather have Peyton than Robert Griffin III, for whom the Skins are allegedly attempting to trade up in the NFL Draft. At least with Peyton, you have a known entity (assuming he stays healthy) and all you’re spending is money, not draft picks.

With RG3, you’re spending money AND draft picks to obtain an entity you’re not entirely sure is going to be successful.

As for Peyton … it’s a bittersweet day for Indy fans. Yes, it’s sad he’s leaving your franchise, but it’s a pretty sweet prize to get Andrew Luck in the draft, a player virtually everyone has marked for stardom in the NFL.

Here’s my brother’s take on the Manning situation — and he takes a look at the possibility of the Colts being traitors for letting their quarterback go.


Duke forward Ryan Kelly will miss this weekend’s ACC Tournament in Atlanta after spraining his right foot at a Tuesday practice.

My take: I think that seriously hurts Duke’s chances of winning the tourney this weekend, too. Although he has much more talented teammates (see Rivers, Austin and Curry, Seth), Kelly is the heart of that team. I think Duke won’t make it past Florida State without him — and the Blue Devils might not make it past Miami on Friday.

But here’s the rub — I think UNC is going to have a tough time winning the tourney, too. Ol’ Roy is famous for not putting weight on the ACC Tournament and, frankly, it’ll mean more to Virginia (UNC’s likely Saturday opponent) or FSU (UNC’s likely Sunday opponent).


In what was a surprise to virtually no one, UNC’s Tyler Zeller was named the ACC player of the year, UNC’s John Henson took top defensive player of the year honors for the second year in a row and Duke’s Rivers was unanimously named the league’s best rookie.

What was a surprise — at least to me — was that FSU’s Leonard Hamilton was picked the league’s top coach … by a single vote over Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.

My take: While I agree that Hamilton did a fine job, he would’ve been my FOURTH choice for COTY, behind Virginia’s Tony Bennett, N.C. State’s Mark Gottfried and Krzyzewski.

FSU was picked to finish third … and the Seminoles finished third. Duke was picked second and finished second and even my Hoos were picked fourth and finished … you guessed it, fourth.

Gottfried’s squad was picked to finish eighth and are in fifth place and on the threshold of the NCAA Tournament in his first season.

The iPod shuffle

Imagine — John Lennon

Fergalicious — Fergie featuring

W.T.P. — Eminem

Don’t Do Me Like That — Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Lookin’ Out My Back Door — Creedence Clearwater Revival

P.S.: Democratic N.C. gubernatorial candidate Walter Dalton is coming by The Free Press tomorrow; if you have any SERIOUS questions you’d like to have asked of him, post them here or email them to me at I’ll get to as many as I can in the short amount of time we have him in our office.

Morning News Report; March 6, 2012


Four hundred and 37 delegates — more than have been awarded in Republican primaries to this point — are up for grabs in 10 states in today’s Super Tuesday races.

My take: It’s pretty much do-or-die time for Rick Santorum today if he hopes to legitimately stay in the race with Mitt Romney. And although some Republicans are less than thrilled to have Mitt at the top of their ticket, today will likely cement that certainty.

Hard to believe that in 2012, we can’t do better than Mitt Romney vs. Barack Obama. Seriously.


A La Grange registered sex offender was arrested last week for masturbating at a computer at the town’s library.

My take: Yep.

What the hell was this dude thinking? No one would see him WITH HIS PANTS AND UNDERWEAR DOWN AROUND HIS ANKLES? Seriously?

And what is a registered sex offender doing at a library anyway? I know it was 11:20 in the morning when he was allegedly saying hello to his little friend, but I think I can safely assume there were small children with their mothers there, too.

I’ve heard of some pretty sick and some pretty dumb things … but churning butter at the library is about the sickest and dumbest.


The UNC starting front line of Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Harrison Barnes were named to the All-ACC first team. The trio was joined by Virginia’s Mike Scott and Duke’s Austin Rivers.

UNC point guard Kendall Marshall was the first player on the second team and was joined by Maryland’s Terrell Stoglin, FSU’s Michael Snaer, Virginia Tech’s Erick Green and N.C. State’s C.J. Leslie.

My take: I’m not surprised that Marshall didn’t make first team, although I’m a bit disappointed. I still stand by what I said yesterday — without Marshall, UNC is a fourth-place ACC team, but without Zeller, Henson or Barnes, the Tar Heels would be a lesser team, but wouldn’t notice their loss as much. It’s this simple: Kendall Marshall is the most important player in the ACC …period.

What does surprise me, though, is that Scott wasn’t a unanimous pick to the first team on all 62 ballots. There were actually TWO voters (or one who put him on the third team!) who didn’t think Mike Scott was one of the top five players in the ACC this year. Craziness.

Player of the year, rookie of the year and coach of the year are announced today. I still think Marshall is the POTY, Rivers is the obvious ROTY and Virginia’s Tony Bennett would be my vote for COTY, although I wouldn’t be opposed to voting for Miami’s Jim Larranaga.

Why Bennett? Because of transfers and injuries, Virginia has six scholarship players remaining on the roster — and the Cavaliers still finished fourth in the league’s regular season. Larranaga has a good argument, too, for the strong job he has done at Miami — and I wouldn’t be surprised to see State’s Mark Gottfried garner a vote or two.

The iPod shuffle

Shoot To Thrill — AC/DC

Peace Of Mind — Boston

With A Little Help From My Friends — The Beatles

Call Me The Breeze — Lynyrd Skynyrd

The Dem Wrappas — Nelly

Morning News Report; Monday, March 5, 2012


Following UNC’s 88-70 whitewash of Duke in the regular season finale for both teams, the Tar Heels are the No. 1 seed and the Blue Devils are No. 2 in this week’s ACC men’s basketball tournament in Atlanta.

My take: Gotta admit — Carolina is the class of the ACC and I doubt anyone is going to make a run at the Heels, especially with the added motivation and knowledge that they probably need to win this week’s tourney to get a coveted No. 1 seed.

The bigger question is this: who will get into the NCAA tournament from the ACC? I think the top 3 — UNC, Duke and Florida State — are locks and that my beloved Virginia is a highly probable. And that’s it — unless N.C. State or Miami get hot this week, the ACC will only get four teams into the tourney.

And although I no longer have a vote for ACC player of the year and All-ACC, here’s how I would vote for player of the year — Kendall Marshall, UNC. Marshall is the most indispensable player in the league, period. Could Carolina win without Tyler Zeller, John Henson or Harrison Barnes? Yes — but they’d be a fourth-place ACC team without Marshall.

My first-team All-ACC: Marshall; Mike Scott, Virginia; Zeller; Henson; and Austin Rivers, Duke. I can hear Heelatious already losing his mind — “What? No Harrison Barnes on first team? Oh my God!” It’s this simple — Barnes is a one-trick pony; he’s a hell of an offensive player, probably the best in the ACC. But at this moment, Rivers is a better player than he — and a better pro prospect.


In my Sunday column, I took a look at the local races; later this week (very likely, tomorrow), I’ll do a quick hit on the statewide and national races — hopefully, with your input.

My take: A preview, though (although I’ve touched on this several times): the presumed front-runner for the governor’s race, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, has already fallen to second in a statewide poll — because of his early-campaign gaffes. Ironically, Dalton will be in Kinston Thursday night and I’m hoping he’ll come by The Free Press office to talk about his campaign.


Deron Williams finished with a franchise and career-high 57 points against the Charlotte Bobcats last night.

My take: Congrats to Williams — but to me, the bigger issue is how bad the Bobcats are. Charlotte is 4-31, which brought a fantastic tweet from former Free Press sports editor R.L. Bynum. He speculated the Carolina Panthers might end up winning more games in 2012 than this season’s Bobcats — and that’s highly likely.

Heck, I’ll take it a step further — this year’s Bobcats might not win more than the 2011 Panthers, who finished with six wins. That would mean Charlotte would need to finish 3-28 over the final 31 games, a winning percentage of .097; the Bobcats currently have a winning percentage of 0.114.

Wow. And does anyone seriously think it’s going to get better in coming years? Kemba Walker is a nice player, but no one thinks he’s going to be a legitimate star. D.J. Augustin is all right and Gerald Henderson could start for four or five NBA squads — and he’s considered the “star” of this team. Going to be some tough, tough winters in Charlotte.

The iPod shuffle

Broken Wings — Mister Mister

Another One Bites The Dust — Queen

Wake Me Up When September Ends — Green Day

Believe It Or Not — Nickelback

Poundcake — Van Halen

Morning News Report; Feb. 7, 2012


Remember that cool Super Bowl commercial with Clint Eastwood in which he declared it’s halftime for America? He spent yesterday claiming it wasn’t a veiled reelection commercial for President Obama.

My take: And that was EXACTLY what I thought when I watched it — that he was talking about the halfway point of Obama’s tenure; glad I wasn’t the only one who thought that.

However, Eastwood has a long history of conservative views — which made the ad all the more confusing.

Still — a hell of an ad and it made me want to go out and buy another Jeep:


Experts in this story are predicting gas prices will increase to $4.05 a gallon this spring before they start falling again.

My take: And you know what we’ll do? Continue filling up our gastanks with nary a complaint.

It’s amazing how we’ve been conditioned to accept this crap. Can you imagine 10 years ago — when gas prices topped out at $1.55 a gallon (and we bitched about that!) — that we’d be filling up every day at $3.60 a gallon?


Following New England’s loss to the N.Y. Giants in Sunday’s Super Bowl, Patriots players — including “injured” tight end Rob Gronkowski — danced the night away in Indianapolis.

My take: The only bothersome thing here is … well, nothing. These guys are human. So, they want to dance.

And don’t forget — IT’S ONLY A GAME.

The iPod shuffle

Splurge — Nelly

Jaded — Aerosmith

Within You Without You — The Beatles

Who Wears These Shoes — Elton John

I Run To You — Lady Antebellum

Morning News Report; Feb. 6, 2012


The N.Y. Giants won Super Bowl XLVI, 21-17, over the New England Patriots last night — and much like their win four years ago, it came in spectacular fashion as MVP Eli Manning hit Mario Manningham on an unbelievable pass on the winning drive.

My take: Of course, if you’d read my Sunday column, you would’ve known to pick the Giants in SBXLVI.

I must say — it’s awfully sweet to see Bill Belichick (who’s MUCH smarter than you are and every other person in the world) get his again.

And it’s cool to see the perennially underrated Eli Manning get another MVP and title — one more than his brother. Which begs the question — is Eli now a better quarterback than Peyton? Did this solidify Eli’s place in the Hall of Fame?

Don’t forget, kids: my Washington Redskins swept the Giants this season; thus meaning my Skins are, by default, the Super Bowl champs. Right?



FOB Richard Clark found a dog in Trenton that the HB and I have been fostering since midweek last week. Read the link for all the details.

My take: I’ll say this — whoever had this dog should burn in hell, if this was intentional mistreating. He’s sweet a dog as you’ve ever seen, it’s gentle … and it was nearly starved to death when Richard saved his life.

Anyone who can treat an animal this way should be put in jail. As my HB reminds me though, that’s some hunter’s mentality though — if the dog can’t hunt, let it go. However, they would’ve done better to just put it down than to release it and let it nearly starve to death. I’m just thankful God led the dog to Richard.

Anyhoo — we’ve had several calls for the dog we’re calling “Buddy;” if you think you might be interested, give me a call at the office at 252-559-1074 after 2 p.m. today.


Mitt Romney easily won the Republican primary in Nevada on Saturday, prompting the question — are there any legitimate challengers keeping him from winning the GOP nod?

This Washington Post piece states that Rick Santorum might be the only one who does.

My take: I disagree — it looks like it’s Obama vs. Romney for the presidency (and Obama leads Romney in an ABC poll). The only question to me, though, is who will be Romney’s running mate.

The iPod shuffle

Sweet Hitch-Hiker — Creedence Clearwater Revival

Talkin’ 2 Myself — Eminem featuring Kobe

Love Comes — The Posies

Party Like A Rock Star — Shop Boyz

Can’t Help Falling In Love — Elvis Presley

Morning News Report; Dec. 16, 2011


Republican leadership is not relishing the idea of having RINO Newt Gingrich as its potential presidential nominee in 2012.

My take: With the vacuum of leadership in the GOP right now, I can see why the party is concerned. It seems like every week there is a new poll leader.

And you know who loves this? The Democrats — who will almost certainly have President Obama reelected if Newt is the GOP nominee.


Chicago Bears backup wide receiver Sam Hurd was arrested this week when he told an undercover cop he wanted to buy 1,000 pounds of marijuana and 5 to 10 kilograms of cocaine a week to distribute in the Chicago area.

My take: Now THAT’S a party. Obviously — if he wasn’t just trying to impress someone (which you know is going to be his defense) — he had a network that would help him. Can’t wait to see how this all turns out…


I really can’t do this story any justice … so just check it out yourself.

My take: There are not many things that are worse than sticking your hand in a glove filled with someone’s defecation. Just sayin’.

The iPod shuffle

Awake (Live) — Josh Groban

Animals — Nickelback

Feels Like The First Time — Foreigner

Can’t Help Falling In Love — UB40

Ok — Beastie Boys

Morning News Report; Nov. 30, 2011

Well … waiting to post since the powers-that-be are doing a changeover, but too much good stuff to wait! Going to get this MNR, standings update and some other goodies to you today here before the change to the new server, which will have a new URL.


With yet ANOTHER woman stepping forward professing to having improper sexual relations with Republican Herman Cain, the former front-runner for the GOP nomination for president in 2012 is reassessing his decision to run.

My take: You know that old adage about “where there is smoke, there is fire?” There’s a heck of a lot of smoke around Mr. Cain right now — and you have to figure that there has to be a bit of truth to this.

Does that make him unworthy to be president? One of the best presidents in my lifetime was a philanderer and it didn’t stop him from doing a good job.


The North Carolina High School Athletic Association has released its preliminary realignment plan — and there are some local surprises, including:

  • Kinston, North Lenoir, South Lenoir, Ayden-Grifton and Greene Central altogether in one seven-team 2A conference, along with Goldsboro and Midway
  • Jones Senior being placed in a six-team 1A league, along with Warsaw James Kenan, Lakewood, Lejeune, Clinton Union and Wallace-Rose Hill

My take: OK, I can’t speak for the rest of the state (and I saw some questionable moves in other areas of the state), but The Free Press WHOLEHEARTEDLY approves this recommendation! To have five of the six public schools we cover in one league is a dream come true for coverage.

Thanks, Rick Strunk!

But before we all get too giddy about this, remember: this is the first draft. There will be a few more changes before we get close to being through with this.

But … wow. Prep sports fans around here would be duly impressed with what we could do if that league came to be.


The Raleigh holiday tournament that has had GlaxoSmithKline as a primary sponsor for more than a decade has had a name change: it’s now called the Holiday Invitational. Twenty

The, which includes Kinston again this year, has also released the brackets for this year’s tourney, which runs Dec. 26-30. Kinston will face Wheeler (Ga.) in the first-round of the eight-team American Airlines bracket on Wednesday, Dec. 28 at Raleigh Broughton High School.

My take: Pretty exciting news for the tourney, of which I am the media coordinator for the fifth straight year. The hard part is going to be not calling it the “Glaxo!”


Duke suffered its first loss of the year last night when the Blue Devils fell 85-63 at Ohio State in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge.

My take: Much like UNC losing last week to UNLV, no one thought the Dookies would go undefeated.

But to lose by THAT much? Dayum. I did enjoy this K quote: “I was trying not to lose by 30.”

The iPod shuffle

On The Road Again — Canned Heat

I’ve Tried Everything — Eurythmics

Losing My Religion — R.E.M.

Mary Jane’s Last Dance — Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Cat Scratch Fever — Ted Nugent

Morning News Report; Nov. 21, 2011


Former Speaker of the U.S. House Newt Gingrich has surged to the lead in the race for the Republican nomination for president in 2012.

My take: I’ll never understand the political game — and this is a great example of why.

Gingrich, who has famously been married and divorced several times (including cheating on his spouse), is the voice of the conservative right? I guess it’s that “do as I say do, don’t do as I do” political strategy.

I’ll say this much — President Obama and the Democrats have to be smiling like Cheshire cats and praying that Gingrich wins the GOP nomination … cuz if he wins, the race becomes a lay-up for the Democrats.


First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, the country’s “second lady,” were roundly booed at Sunday’s NASCAR finale in Homestead, Fla.

My take: You know … you have to figure that NASCAR fans aren’t exactly the Obama/Biden demographic. Just sayin’.

Oh, and Tony Stewart won the Winston Nextel Sprint Cup championship if you care about that kind of thing … which I don’t. I’ll echo what former Free Press Sports Editor R.L. Bynum tweeted last night — if it’s a “cup” championship, why isn’t a cup awarded to the winner?


Saturday was one of the most unpredictable days in recent memory for the ACC football as N.C. State absolutely shut down the league’s top team (Clemson), Virginia won at Florida State for the first time and Boston College and Duke almost pulling off upsets of Notre Dame and Georgia Tech, respectively.

My take: I know this much — if Virginia’s Mike London doesn’t get coach of the year in the ACC, there’s no justice in the world. All he’s done is take a team some had finishing behind Duke this year and has them on the precipice of an appearance in the ACC championship game.

And my Wuffie friends need to explain to me how you can beat Clemson, Virginia (on the road!) and UNC … but lose to Boston College and Wake Forest. By the by — not one player in our picks contest picked State to win Saturday, and that includes several Wuffie grads.

It’s certainly been an up-and-down year in the ACC this season — and one in which I hope my Cavahoos walk away with the title on Dec. 3 in Charlotte.

The iPod shuffle

Been Around The World — Puff Daddy & The Family featuring The Notorious B.I.G.

Across The Universe — The Beatles

St. Jimmy — Green Day

I’ll Be There For You — Bon Jovi

Funkytown — Lipps Inc.