In a column a few weeks ago, I wrote about how former House Speaker Richard Morgan had lost 100 pounds and felt great. Morgan and I had two nice chats as I reported the column.
We have not always been friendly. In 2007, The N&O's Dan Kane reported that Morgan pocketed more than $356,000 in campaign contributions, withdrawing the money just days before a new law took effect barring lawmakers from personal use of campaign funds. Morgan declined to talk with Kane but he did complain to his hometown paper, The Pilot in Southern Pines. Morgan said Kane "has no scruples."
That didn't sit well with me. Kane had done his job and done it well, honestly and fairly. Reporters called for a response to Morgan's comment and I released a statement that said: "Richard Morgan can attack us all he wants but the facts don't lie. Morgan removed $356,000 from his campaign account five days before a law went into effect that would have made that action illegal. ... For Richard Morgan to say Dan Kane has no scruples is quite humorous. I will also point out that Mr. Morgan had numerous chances to comment for our article but did not have the courage to do so." I also criticized Morgan in a column.
When Morgan's book came out a year later, he sent me a signed copy that said, "Many thanks and best wishes." I'm not sure why he was thanking me but it was a nice gesture.
When a mutual friend recently suggested we write about Morgan's weight loss, I didn't hestitate to call Morgan. Political journalism can be confrontational. That's the nature of the business. There will be disagreements, fights and sometimes lawsuits. But to me, those are temporary battles and there's no reason to have hard feelings or long-term enemies. You do what you need to do in the situation in front of you and then you move on to the next one.
Morgan was known as a combative fellow and he's certainly had his share of fights. I'd been told that he has mellowed. That might have something to do with age; it might have something to do with his improved health. I asked him if he had mellowed and he said, "By observation from others, I think so. I think so." As far as I'm concerned, the 2007 spat is history. --John Drescher