Triad business interests and North Carolina state government officials have issued verbal warnings to reporters, commentators and news media personalities whose public remarks on the economy are out of step with federal, state and local government’s upbeat statements, according to government officials and economic commentators with knowledge of the matter.
George Hartzman, who has been outspoken about rising corporate and government debt, the real estate market and crony capitalism in Greensboro, North Carolina received a warning in recent weeks, these people said. It was at least his second. The first came from the Securities Exchange Commission, and the later one, these people said, from North Carolina's Treasurer's office, which instructed him to avoid making “overly bearish” remarks about the economy, particularly investment fees in the state's retirement plans and commercial real estate.
At least one local non-profit foundation was told by City of Greensboro and State officials not to cast doubt on a planned government program to build a megasite in Randolph County involving the state owned North Carolina Railroad, which is refusing public information requests.
Hartzman has told investors that “a lot of official data aren’t reliable” and the economy still faces “big problems,” according to people who attended the closed-door event.
Words of those remarks crackled across social media.
Hartzman and representatives at his firm didn’t return requests for comment, as his name is virtually banned from appearing within local papers and other news outlets.
While restrictions on economic related media have always been tight, they are becoming tighter, with a growing list of publications receiving pressure to produce calming narratives including Greensboro's News and Record, the Triad Business Journal and the Rhino Times.