News of the Weird

Democrat Sam Duncan won his reelection campaign for the Union County, North Carolina’s Soil and Water Conservation board. Democrats dutifully helped the candidate by distributing literature and running newspaper advertisements. The problem was that nobody knew that Duncan had died a month earlier. According to an article in Editor and Publisher:

“Union County elections officials knew about his death for weeks, but did not inform voters, even though the newspaper ads and endorsements continued.”

What is the media’s responsibility in a situation like this? If editors knew the candidate had died, it would be their responsibility to run an obituary or an article or two in the local newspapers. Are they then obligated to cease running campaign advertisements for the late candidate?

According to the article, the writers did a quick search for Duncan’s obituary and were unable to find one.

I wonder if the local media were really unaware of Duncan’s death. Then I wonder how that would be possible. Was the omission of an obituary an endorsement of the Democratic party? Was it a way to swing the election? Or was it simply an honest mistake?

Even the former sheriff was unaware of Duncan’s passing.

”’Former sheriff Frank McGuirt said he had helped Duncan gain enough votes to knock out a board chairman who had served for many years. "I was shocked to know that poor Sam was gone,’ McGuirt told the Charlotte Observer.”

Yet if the local media had definitively known of Duncan’s death, were they obligated to continue running his campaign ads? Or were they required to forfeit the advertising dollars once the public was informed of his death? I would probably side with the latter.

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